Most of the essays in James Fenimore Cooper: New Historical and Literary Contexts are either directly or indirectly informed by the need to confront Cooper's tales with the indeterminate historical context from which they arose. Others start from the premise that our understanding of Cooper's work can benefit significantly from displacing it from its traditional position in American literary history and by repositioning it in a new literary context. What unites all the essays is a commitment to read Cooper's works as culturally-encoded documents that both reflect and give us access to the complex, equivocal mind that created them. This is not to say that the essays share a common critical or methodological approach; indeed, they were commissioned and selected with the specific intention of applying contending approaches in contemporary literary discourse to the canonical Cooper. While the array of critical approaches represented in the book is by no means exhaustive, interpretive strategies vary from textual, formalistic New Critical readings to old historical, contextual readings, and from new historical, revisionist readings to deconstructive readings. Through their critical diversity these essays will cast a new light on Cooper's work in relation to its historical context, and on the relevance of Cooper's work to both nineteenth-century and modern literary, historical, and ideological debates.