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ERIC Number: ED406693
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Mar
Pages: 24
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Teaching the Puritan Captivity Narrative: A History of the American Hero.
Buckley, J. F.
How educators teach and talk about the Puritans tends to promulgate a view of them that does not exist in all their texts. From the beginning of the Puritans' arrival in 1630 in New England until Cotton Mather's 1702 publication "Magnalia Christi Americana," there are literary treatments of the idealism and the hardship constituting Puritan life that are surprisingly "antisocial," that are critical of the normative community. This is especially true of the uniquely American genre, the captivity narrative--specifically that written by early New England women. "Having students see these captivity narratives as socially challenging entails having them consider these women writers as acting like today's queer performers, if not like today's transvestites, when they create the'American hero.'" One instructor who teaches the captivity narrative begins, as follows: (1) notes that English 290 class starts with a showing of "The Last of the Mohicans," which allows students to start the course reading while helping them agree on a present-day representation of the American hero; (2) has students bring in pictures of those who dress as "the other sex," preparing them to: (3) discusses the differences between transvestitism and cross-dressing; and (4) reads "very brief" sections of a psychiatric manual describing "transvestic fetishism." Next they read the Puritan Mary Rowlandson's 1676 "Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration" and the Quaker Elizabeth Hanson's 1724 account of her captivity. With this approach students become better informed about early American women and Native Americans and their role in making a country. "They also see the interconnections among the supposedly antisocial, such as the queer, the transvestite, the cross-dresser, and the heterosexist American hero." Students come to see how accepted norms are often at odds with what society purports to value. (Contains 11 notes.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A