English 100

Junior Seminar: American Captivity Narratives

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2008 Donegan, Kathleen
Donegan, Kathleen
TTh 9:30-11 129 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Derounian-Stodala, K.: Women�s Indian Captivity Narratives; Baepler, P.: White Slaves, African Masters; Gates, H. L.: The Classic Slave Narratives


The captivity narrative is the first literary genre that might be called uniquely �American.� Although its standard protagonist was a white woman kidnapped by Indians, American captivity narratives also related the troubles of sailors and pirates at sea, Christians and Moslems on the Barbary Coast , and Africans enslaved and transported throughout the Atlantic world. We will study a range of Indian, pirate, and slave captivities, from the period of colonial settlement through the early nineteenth century. Secondary sources will help us think about how the phenomenon of captivity in American literature both concentrated and contained larger battles for cultural power. Quickened by crisis, intensified by danger, and driven by fantasies of destruction and deliverance, the plight of the captive came to stand in for a host of social contests. The captive�s position offers an exceptional opportunity to observe how race, gender, and religion functioned in the �no-man�s-land� of bondage. Students will write short papers throughout the semester.

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