Adventurers and Authors

This thesis compares the perceptions and observations of the aboriginal people of North America in the writings of Captain John Smith and Samuel de Champlain.  Such a study helps to clarify the murky subject of European-North American contact by contrasting the experiences and writings of these two men.  At its core it shows that Smith and Champlain occupied an intermediate space between the worlds of Europe and America, on which they could build a foundation for the European outposts of Jamestown and Port Royal.  However, not only did they occupy this space physically, but this thesis also demonstrates that they sought to occupy this space rhetorically as well.

In order to show this, the subject has been approached with “absolute simultaneity,” meaning that both the North American and European contexts have been taken into consideration.  This approach helps to offset the polemics that some scholars have used in this field by either seeing these men as ‘national heroes’ or couching their discussion in moralistic language.  At the most fundamental level in this thesis all parties have been treated as fully human – having been influenced and influencing, having made rational and irrational choices, and defying simplistic categorization.

This thesis was successfully defended in the Department of History at Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, NS) in September 2004 under the supervision of John G. Reid.  You can read the thesis by clicking on the links below or download it in pdf: Adventurers and Authors

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