Fatal Revolutions: Caribbean Natural History, Atlantic Slavery, and the Routes of Early American Literature


ACLS Fellowship Program


Literatures in English


This project pursues the complex West Indian routes of early American nature discourse. Early American writers and thinkers understood that that the material prosperity of the new nation depended on Caribbean nature. The natural environment of the Caribbean, they understood, had been transformed radically by the labor of enslaved Africans, the enterprise of Creole merchants and planters, and the new appetites of European and American consumers for exotic West Indian commodities. Through varied aesthetic means, authors as prominent as Thomas Jefferson, St. John de Crevecoeur, and John Audubon presented Caribbean nature as the source of an ardently desired yet disruptive superabundance.