Constructed Histories: the Literary Lives of Pocahontas and Virginia Dare

This thesis explores both white and Native female characters from 19th and 20th century texts about colonial America in order to show how romanticized depictions and textual constructions of historical figures change the way we understand the literary history of fictional characters. In addition, I look closely at racial relationships as a key factor in informing how texts about colonial America are written. American authors of the 19th and 20th centuries repeated many narrative features of these early colonial accounts, thereby mythologizing particular perspectives of colonial and Native interaction. Specifically, recurring romantic, problematic, and complex depictions of both white and Native women characters (Pocahontas and Virginia Dare) on the frontier create fixed character types that can be traced through particular texts from and about colonial America.