This essay reads George Lippard’s ’Bel of Prairie Eden (1848), E.D.E.N. Southworth’s The Hidden Hand (1859), and a moving panorama, The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley (ca. 1850), to show how the serial structures and temporalities of these particular works and the narrative forms of recursion and repetition that result produce an aesthetic engagement with the past that emphasizes simultaneity and overlap. Highlighting the presence of multiple temporalities as they are represented in landscapes and topographies within popular works frequently read in relation to issues of empire surrounding the US-Mexico war, the essay refocuses attention on broader discourses of settler colonialism. Attending to the recurrence embedded in the ostensibly linear forms of these works, and to images in which they confront US settlement of lands that contain other histories of imperial violence and settlement, helps us recognize articulations of settler colonialism not merely as “forgetting” (forgetting previous claims on space, for example) to be combatted with the “hauntings” or “remembering” of postcolonial approaches, but as various, ongoing processes of “in-betweenness.” Reading popular fiction like Lippard’s and Southworth’s and visual material like The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley for how it depicts the recurrence and copresence of temporalities alerts us to the narrative forms of settlement and reminds us of earlier efforts to narrate the multiple histories of settler space.
Melissa Gniadek; Seriality and Settlement: Southworth, Lippard, and The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley. American Literature 1 March 2014; 86 (1): 31–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2395510
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