Summary Of The Sentimental Paradox

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Nicole Eustace’s “The Sentimental Paradox” examines the roles of emotion and European conceptualizations of masculinity and sentiment on the British colonization of Pennsylvania, particularly after the French and Indian War. Many eighteenth-century British and Euro-American men struggled to reconcile Enlightenment notions of humanity with the conflicts that arose along the North American frontier with Native American peoples. Europeans claimed that their sentimentality and empathy differentiated them from the “savage” native; however, they also wanted to be known for their military prowess, physical strength, and general machismo. Eustace uses the example of the 1764 Paxton Boys murders and ensuing controversy to study how European settlers balanced their assertions of moral and humanitarian superiority over Native Americans with their need to preserve their masculinity. She argues that British Americans spent a great deal of time and energy equalizing and regulating their emotions to that end, and that “their attempts set the stage for the subsequent emergence of the American nation as an ‘empire of liberty,’ a state whose citizens deliberately valorized violence while professing to pursue humanitarian aims” (Eustace 30). In “Cultural Encounters along a Gender Frontier,” Jane T. Merritt delves into the interesting relationships between the Moravian missionaries who settled near the Delaware and Lehigh rivers of Pennsylvania and the Native Americans to whom they preached.
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