AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 6, Number2.  May  2022                   Pp.84-101

Royall Tyler’s The Contrast: The cultural foundations and the Contradictions of his Campaign for Freedom Explained

Mounya Zouane

Department of English, Faculty of Letters and Languages,
University M’Hamed Bougara, Boumerdes, Alger 

Faculty of Letters and Languages, Department of English,
University Mouloud Mammeri, Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria


This research seeks to explore in detail the cultural foundations and the contradictions in Royall Tyler’s campaign for freedom in The contrast (1787). More particularly, it puts emphasis on how Tyler wages his “culture war” and what measure of success he achieves in the highly divisive debate about cultural nationalism in the early American republic. To shed light on the issue of cultural independence, the play is placed within the context of the turbulent early years of the new nation, when each and every American across gender, ethnic, social class, faction or party lines challenged their fellow citizens to stay true to the revolutionary principles of democracy and freedom. It is argued that with The contrast, Tyler, irked by the cultural dependency of America under The Articles of Confederation, stepped into the public sphere in 1787, the year when the first draft of the Constitution was adopted, to make up a wake-up call for Americans still captured in the culturally corrosive cobweb of British texts and textiles. The socio-historical considerations brought to bear on the drama, together with the study of the text proper, have helped us to demonstrate that the play draws its inspiration from two major American cultural sources: the American culture of performance or culture of gentility and the American culture of folk humor or laughter. This research rounds off the argument about Tyler’s cultural nationalism with the highlighting of Tyler’s curtailment of the very freedom that he seeks to expand. The curtailment of freedom in The contrast is explained in terms of Tyler’s loyalty to a strand of republicanism based on class and gender hierarchies.

Cite as:

Zouane,M., & Zerar, S.  (2022). Royall Tyler’s The Contrast: The cultural foundations and the contradictions of his campaign for freedom explained. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 6 (2)  84-101.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol6no2.6


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Mounya Zouane has been teaching Anglophone Literatures at the Department of English University M’Hamed Bougara of Boumerdes, Algeria, since 2012. She has earned a Master’s degree in British Literature, and she is currently carrying out a doctoral research at the  University of Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria. The above research is partly inspired by her work on American captivity narratives.


Sabrina Zerar has been teaching English as a Foreign Language, and American and British Civilization over the last 36 years. She currently holds the position of Professor at the University of Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria. She has served as Director of the Laboratory of Foreign Languages and Cultures affiliated to the same university for 4 years. In addition to teaching supervising, and participation in conferences, she has published a considerable number of research articles and book chapters, some of which are available at the following website: http://labs.ummto.dz/lelce .