English 165AC

Special Topics: Special Topics in American Cultures: Captivity in America

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2006 Beam, Dorri
Beam, Dorri
TTh 2-3:30 243 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

Rowlandson: The Sovereignty and Goodness of God; Silko: Yellow Woman; Spofford: �Circumstance�; Cabeza de Vaca: Castaways; Capt. J. Smith; Disney�s Pocahontas; Apess: A Son of the Forest; Zitkala-Sa: American Indian Stories; Equiano: The Interesting Narrative of the Life Olaudah Equiano; Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Turner: The Confessions of Nat Turner; Wideman: Brothers and Keepers; Indian Ledger Art


This course considers the captivity narrative as a recurring form in American literature and asks why it should be so prevalent in a �land of freedom.� We will expand this category beyond its traditional focus on Puritan captivity (in which Indians are the captors) to encompass a myriad of responses to captivity in a variety of forms in colonial, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century American texts. The condition of captivity will be treated as a particularized scene of writing, one often productive of a crisis of language. We will examine issues of cultural contact and containment, freedom and imprisonment, and national inclusion and exclusion in the narratives and stories of not only Puritans, but also captured Africans, Native Americans, and women in early America . Finally, how is the reader �captured� by captivity narratives? How, as students of American literature, should we understand our point of contact with captivity narratives? This is a seminar requiring sustained and substantive class participation.

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