This essay examines Charles Brockden Brown’s first novel, “Wieland” (1798), particularly as it engages and critiques gender and nationalism in the fictive treatment of familicidal murders that took place in the eighteenth century. More broadly, Brown’s novel highlights the competing realities facing men and women in the early republic, as they navigated the shifting landscape of political and religious ideology in the turbulence of post-Revolutionary America. A close examination of Wieland offers a revealing glimpse into the tensions between patriarchy and femininity, republicanism and religion, and competing masculinities in the newly born republic that was limitlessly optimistic even as it was beset by national and familial violence.
“I have been obsessed with “Wieland” for many years,” said Keller. “Perhaps more than any other early American novel, it highlights the difficulties and uncertainties surrounding American identity in the 18th Century.”
The article appeared in issue 20 of the European journal Gender Studies, The Journal of West University, Timisoara, Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies. Gender Studies is an international, interdisciplinary journal that aims to contribute to the advancement of gender as a theoretical and analytical category and to bring valuable empirical work to the attention of academic and non-academic publics.
Keller is currently the Fulbright Professor of American Literature at the University of Bergen, Norway, where he is teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature. As an associate professor of English at QU, he teaches courses in American literature, rhetoric, and literary theory. His current research examines the intersections between early nationalism and American literature. He earned his B.A. from Wheaton College, his M.A. from Northern Illinois University, and his Ph.D. in English at Marquette University.
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