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I received your book and it is a delight. It's so meticulous. Thank you for this memento ... Madeleine Stowe

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The LOTM DISSERTATION

... the trail from Cooper to Mohican Press

CHAPTER 5  PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL OF POPULAR CULTURE!

Clearly, this site demonstrates that movements such as the Mohicans fan community can pose a serious alternative, if not a direct challenge, to the academy’s elite, monopolistic authority over matters of culture, history and aesthetics.

Through the years, we periodically received E-mail from a fellow who claimed he was working on a thesis for school and needed some input, and insight, from us. He was learned & seemed genuine so we obliged, as we usually do when asked for info [of all imaginable sorts!], but, in the back of our minds, we weren't really sure what he was really up to. Well, it appears that those minute fears were unfounded & our trust was well rewarded! This researcher, Michael A. Williams, has completed a PhD dissertation on the mythology of The Last of the Mohicans. We were the proud recipients of the final work, in .pdf format, a couple of nights ago [early December, 2002], and we can't adequately describe our feelings. The work is outstanding & scholarly. Superb, really. It begins with the James Fenimore Cooper novel, of course, and follows the phenomena of LOTM through its various film resurrections, culminating in the very special - to all of us - 1992 Michael Mann version. Oh, wait, no ... no it doesn't, for it doesn't stop there! The final chapter - some 60 pages - is on ... US! As in On the Trail of the Last of the Mohicans ... the book, this web site, the Mohican Board! So, that really means, in many ways, its about you!

MohicanLand is a community that arose virtually and eventually developed a real-world existence as well. While it in no way corresponds in size to the kind of fan communities that have made Star Trek and The Rocky Horror Picture Show so widely familiar, its roots as a cultural phenomenon lie substantially in those “traditions.” More important things can be said about it, however, when we appreciate a point implicit in both Rheingold’s and Wellman’s work: that virtual communities, whether one refers to them with that term or some other, are the quintessential example of “imagined community.”
There is a powerful affinity between this community, formed around a narrative object that has always been a “marked text” in the evolving discourse of American national identity, and the mechanisms of nationalist ideology that Benedict Anderson calls attention to in Imagined Communities, based on narrative tropes of remembering and forgetting, with a nation as the object.

Now, our first impulse was to make the .pdf file available on the site as a download - to share its rich text with the "world" - but, we can't. Not yet. Our enthusiasm must be tempered! We asked the author, a 49 year old gentleman doing this research for the University of Rochester in New York. He has no objection to our quoting some excerpts on the web site, which we are doing here. He's even offered to allow accessibility to some folks ... though we're not yet clear on the terms ... but he's not too comfortable on the download-for-all idea, because ... because ... there's a very real, very strong possibility that the work will be published!!!  A book! With a large part written about US! The web site, the Gatherings, this Internet Community ... US! Ok, ok ... we're excited!

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the people involved in MohicanLand, and their productivity, cannot be understood as a traditional star-based fan phenomenon. As focused as their interests in this direction can be at times, Mohicans Web sites as a whole demonstrate that their interests are much more broad than that.

We can't tell you how very strange it was to be reading this stuff and knowing the author was talking about our efforts in accumulating all this knowledge in one place - our web site & the characters that lay within. All objectively from a completely different perspective than from what we've ever experienced before. Surreal, simply. It is really good stuff! We don't say that just out of self-interest. It's really good stuff ... the whole thing. The whole thing. The section on 1992 runs about 75 pages, and it is the most detailed "review" you are ever likely to come across. And, like we say elsewhere, The Last of the Mohicans, the saga, is a deeply-rooted part of Americana. That allows this site to exist as it does today. There's an intangible attraction to the story that Cooper wrote - not to mention the celluloid factors brought into play more recently by Mann. This dissertation covers it all. Well-written, scholarly, objective, fresh ... you will thoroughly enjoy its every word!

I suspect that “scholarship” is a more intensive area of fan activity in the Mohicans fandom than in many other fandoms. The work at the center of this fandom, already established in the literary and popular canon as an “American Classic,” is at least doubly historical: an adaptation of an adaptation of a 175 year old novel whose subject is a period 70 years in its own past. Authority and expertise range beyond the limits of the work itself, and encompass all kinds of historical, political, and cultural issues. The Web site self-consciously fills a role as a historical authority and reference source, a role that goes well beyond simply reprinting Baker’s [note: Mark Baker] material. TOLOTM includes much material on historical accuracy, and on the historical context for the diegetic narrative and for Cooper’s moment as well; some of this material is apparently authored by the Federicis, some by others, Granted, the style of the writing is not necessarily academic. There is nothing resembling a scholarly apparatus, with only basic attention paid to referencing, and it lacks somewhat in historical and critical self-awareness. Nonetheless, this fan production rivals in quality many such discussions found in literary and historical journals. Nor is the scholarship limited to strictly historical subjects. A deconstruction of Twain’s famous critique of Cooper, for example, applies Twain’s approach to Twain’s own work. This essay is as incisive, well written, and analytical as any number of works of academic literary criticism. [SEE: MR. TWAIN'S CRITIQUING OFFENSES]

And, it's critical, it's not just a love fest, though clearly the man enjoys what he's writing about. Anyway, we could go on & on ... We are quoting a few things from the last chapter only here. Just a few. Just to whet your appetite. Let it be said, in this chapter, basically on the Internet community phenomenon known as "Mohicanland," he talks of Gatherings & reenacting, he talks of Wes Studi & Eric Schweig and more, he mentions some of you, by NAME [Major Bray, Eric Hurley, Mighty Mohican Mama, Sarah Melcher, Mark Baker, et al], he delves into the meanings of this web site and, as its creators, we can say he is remarkably perceptive & right on in most all cases. He has been, it is readily apparent, the ULTIMATE LURKER! Egad, this is so very weird ... And, soon to be a book, more than likely!

The fact that Gatherings exist at all is an indicator of the fans’ dedication either to their object, or to their fandom, or both. ... The community, originally purely a virtual phenomenon, has thus acquired a significant “real world” dimension—one whose history is recorded, and its future furthered, on the Internet. The physical and the virtual existences of the Mohicans fandom are thus mutually reinforcing.

'Nuff said, till its expected - and much hoped for - release as a publication ...

READ ON SITE

The AUTHOR:

The Recycling of the Mohicans: The “Classic” Novel and Iterative Adaptation

Michael Allen Williams
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Supervised by
Professor John Michael
Department of English
The College Arts and Sciences
University of Rochester
Rochester, New York
2002

From the CREDITS:

Thanks for assistance also go to Rich and Elaine Federici, the graceful hosts of the Web site, On the Trail of the Last of the Mohicans

The TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Curriculum Vitae ii
Acknowledgements iii
Abstract iv
Table of Contents vi
List of Tables vii
List of Illustrations i
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 The Literary Tradition and Popular Culture, 1826–1910 25
Chapter 2 The Last of the Mohicans (1920) Dirs. Maurice Tourneur and
Clarence Brown 92
Chapter 3 The Last of the Mohicans (1936) Dir. George B. Seitz 165
Chapter 4 The Last of the Mohicans (1992) Dir. Michael Mann 246
Chapter 5 The Cult of the Mohicans: Fans on the Electronic Frontier, and the DVD Version of the 1992 Version 319
Conclusion 378
Bibliography 382
Appendix 1 Filmography: The Last of the Mohicans 402
Appendix 2 Film and Television Adaptations of Literary Classics 405
Appendix 3 Copyrighted Theatrical Adaptations of The Last of The Mohicans 409
Appendix 4 Synopsis of The Leatherstocking (1909) Dir. D. W. Griffith 410
Appendix 5 Intertitles, The Last of the Mohicans (1920) 412
Appendix 6 Screenplay Excerpts, The Last of the Mohicans (1936, 1992) 417

~ All quotes in these tables are from this work [CHAPTER 5], generously passed along to us by Mr. Williams! ~

When, and if, this accomplished work is published, you can bet we will feature it right here ... so,
 STAYED TUNED!


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