Abstract: The city upon a hill can be seen as one of the nation's earliest and most enduring symbols of expansion. Conceived as an anxious trade-off between obligation and ambition, Winthrop's model of a New World community looked to the common good of close settlement while pushing the frontier ever westward. The result was an insistent dialectic between civilization and savagery, renewal, and degeneration—and the recurring nature of this dialectic helped to shape a number of western narratives. Easily the most radical was Susan Shelby Magoffin's journal of the Santa Fe Trail (1846–47). Both thrilled and unmoored by a life of constant flux, Magoffin developed a distinctly feminine view of the city upon a hill—what might be called a "displaced domesticity"—which brought it into alignment with a nation about to transform Winthrop's famous model into manifest destiny.
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 13, 2010
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