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The Traumatic ColonelThe Founding Fathers, Slavery, and the Phantasmatic Aaron Burr$
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Michael J. Drexler and Ed White

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871674

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871674.001.0001

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The Semiotics of the Founders

The Semiotics of the Founders

(p.15) 1 The Semiotics of the Founders
The Traumatic Colonel

Michael J. Drexler

Ed White

NYU Press

This chapter provides a basic literary history of the formation of the four major figures: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. At the outset of the so-called “Founding Fathers” is primarily a literary and symbolic phenomenon that requires certain reading practices, narratives, relational logics, constellations, and genres. The Founders emerged relationally, not as isolated instances of heroic figures. They initially appear as figures and gradually, with the layering of sexual and racial components, become persons. Freed from the generic conventions with which many novels struggled, and driven by the greater career opportunities for writers in political-journalistic prose, the writings about the Founders constitute an innovative canon of character exploration alongside the relatively scarce novel production.

Keywords:   Founding Fathers, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, literary history, political-journalistic prose

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