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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes nineteenth-century tours of Florida’s Oklawaha River, voyages that helped initiate the state’s tourist industry. It considers early explorers and naturalists such as John and William Bartram, who are examined as forerunners and models for later writers. Nineteenth-century journalism by Thomas Bangs Thorpe, Sidney Lanier, Constance Fenimore Woolson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe helps us understand how the northern press became interested in pieces that “Africanized” the exotic regions of the South during and after Reconstruction, employing “penetrations” into the “primitive” as a pathway toward reconciliation. These accounts illustrate the utility of the “tropical sublime,” literary attempts to convey the usually inexpressible sensations of awe, beauty, and danger evoked by tropical jungles and waterways, which simultaneously attract and repel. By considering these inventive ways of picturing tropical nature, the chapter situates Florida as part of the circumCaribbean, thereby expanding our notion of the southernmost state.

Keywords: travel writing, Oklawaha River, tropical sublime, William Bartram, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Sidney Lanier, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, southern swamps, CircumCaribbean

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