The Philippine–American War (1899–1902) was arguably the foundational event in US imperialism, bearing chilling parallels with later US campaigns in Vietnam and Iraq. This article discusses American popular novels of the period by Edward Stratemeyer, Archibald Clavering Gunter, Charles King and others that, guided by a number of imperialist, colonialist and social Darwinist assumptions, textually produce the war in ways that omit, distort or excuse the conduct of the US military and colonial order. Inspired by researches into orientalist and other rhetorics, the article examines the mobilization of linguistic devices and narrative strategies. Finally, the article considers how, after the US had consolidated its control over the Philippines, travel writers such as William D. Boyce applied similar rhetorical techniques to discursively negotiate the contradictions of the new American colonial ideology of “benevolent assimilation”, which depended somewhat uneasily on tropes of modernization, partnership and submissive feminization.
- American literature