Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

It has become commonplace for cities across the United States to pass initiatives to replace the federal holiday celebrating Columbus’ discovery of the Americas with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” As a result, Columbus’ legacy has gradually diminished over time and his supposed achievements scorned. This certainly begs the question: Does Columbus deserve a seat in the pantheon of great American historical and even literary figures? To forget the contributions of Columbus, despite any of his misdoings, is to forget one’s origins and identity. Furthermore, Columbus’ literary contributions are foundational to American literature but largely misunderstood. Hence, an adequate defense must be made of Columbus’ legacy by first placing his literary work, especially his Journal of the First Voyage, in context; and second, a defense must mitigate any possible blame on Columbus for the misdeeds later committed by Spanish conquistadors and colonists.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Jesse Crisler

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Charting Columbus' Place in the Literary Canon

It has become commonplace for cities across the United States to pass initiatives to replace the federal holiday celebrating Columbus’ discovery of the Americas with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” As a result, Columbus’ legacy has gradually diminished over time and his supposed achievements scorned. This certainly begs the question: Does Columbus deserve a seat in the pantheon of great American historical and even literary figures? To forget the contributions of Columbus, despite any of his misdoings, is to forget one’s origins and identity. Furthermore, Columbus’ literary contributions are foundational to American literature but largely misunderstood. Hence, an adequate defense must be made of Columbus’ legacy by first placing his literary work, especially his Journal of the First Voyage, in context; and second, a defense must mitigate any possible blame on Columbus for the misdeeds later committed by Spanish conquistadors and colonists.