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Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue canadtenned'etudes americames Volume 29, Number 1, 1999, PP· 109-121 The Adventures of Patriot Hunters: Danger, Memory, Place, and Virtue at the Windmill Thomas P. Dunning 109 I will define adventure abstractly, as I have before in discussing the adventure tale, calling it a series of events that outrages civilised or domestic morality and that challenges those to whom these events happen to make use of powers that civil life forbids to the ordinary citizen, powers restricted (in a home country) to the police, the secret services, the army. For in the prototypal case, to engage in adventure means to engage in violence, but associated with violence are certain kinds of virtue, like leadership, cunning, endurance, courage, and so on. Adventure shows us heroes, men acting with power. Perhaps the central virtue in that list is courage-meaning ... the physical kind. (Martin Green 1993, 4) Historians must search their evidence for passages which describe (represent) moments outside of the accepted accounts/stories of things, where there is, in Myra Jehlen's words, "uncertainty over how to organise (an) historical narrative," and where "there are narrative moments in which several histories can be and are being written" (1993, 688-89). Victor Turner identifies a 110 Canadian Review of American Studies Revue canadienne d'etudesamertcatnes similar process when he says "indeterminacy is, so to speak, in the subjective mood, since it is not yet settled, concluded, and known. It is all that may be, might be, could be, perhaps even should be" (1980, 157). These uncertain or indeterminate moments can allow historians to see the historical processes of the narrative constructions of meanings from prenarrative experiences. One type of indeterminate moment is what Walter Benjamin has called a moment of danger (cited in Ware 1992, 116). "It is what terrifies in ... a social drama," according to Victor Turner (1980, 157). It is a moment when Benjamin says that individuals must seize hold of a memory to create meaning . These moments are both physical and narrative. These moments can be part of a process consisting of two sequential instants of risk, possibly separated by years or only by a few minutes. I want to posit that immediate physical danger can be a first moment of risk that initially is beyond narrative construction. This fearful time can result in involuntary physical reactions, such as incontinence, or in sudden physical changes, such as dismemberment, disfiguration, or mutilation. (Thus the corporeal components of this process are very important.) It subsequently becomes a second moment of risk when an individual wants to tell the story of that first moment. I want to explore the possibility that narrators of danger call upon memories of adventure and family to create narrative safety and that the memories that can give them security are, at least for males, heroic ones. Lastly, I want to suggest that these original risky moments occur to human bodies not only at dangerous times but in parlous places. Emergent stories then are spatial as well as chronological and corporeal (de Certeau 1984, 113ff). The heroes of my story are nineteenth-century whit~ male Americans. These men were members of a group of Americans and Canadians who invaded Upper Canada in 1838 after the failed Canadian rebellions of 1837 and whom the British transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1839. Six of these men wrote narratives about their common experiences. These accounts are retrospective and justificatory adventure stories in which these men became republican heroes who risked death and e~ile to help those people they considered to be their unfortunate neighbours, and who, in the process, experienced many indeterminate moments of danger. I want to understand how these men constructed and used memories and images of families and heroes to create and to contest ThomasP.DunningI 111 spaces, to discover their narrative voices and to defend their bodies at an indeterminate, dangerous moment and place, the Battle of the Windmill. This encounter resulted from one of three invasions of Upper Canada, planned for November of 1838. The reasons for these invasions began a year before in December, 1837, with the unsuccessful Canadian rebellions against the British colonial government...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 109-121
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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