English 190

Research Seminar: American Captivities


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2014 Donegan, Kathleen
MW 3-4:30 305 Wheeler

Book List

Baepler, P.: White Slaves, African Masters; Derounian, K. Z.: Women's Indian Captivity Narratives; Gates, H. L.: The Classic Slave Narratives; Rowson, S.: Slaves in Algiers; Tyler, R.: The Algerine Captive

Other Readings and Media

Course reader.

Description

The Indian captivity narrative is the first literary genre that might be called uniquely “American.”  Its standard protagonist was a white woman kidnapped by Indians, but American captivity narratives also related the captivities of sailors and pirates at sea, Christians and Muslims on the Barbary Coast, and Africans enslaved and transported throughout the Atlantic world. 

Captivity is always a middle ground, a testing ground, and a proving ground.  In these narratives, the captive’s plight stands in for a host of historical contests imbued with political crisis, personal danger, warring ideologies, and the promise of deliverance.  The captive’s position is necessarily liminal, and thus offers an exceptional opportunity to observe how race, gender, and religion function in the constrained space of bondage.

In this course, we will study a range of Indian, pirate, and slave captivities, from the period of colonial settlement through the early nineteenth century. We will also pursue research in secondary sources, tracing and critiquing traditions of literary criticism around the issue of captivity.  Finally, you will learn the research methods and writing skills to complete an original research paper connected to the themes of our course.

This section of English 190 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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