The American Holocaust? How to read Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative

In the literature students have read thus far, the mass killing, pillaging, and conquest of indigenous peoples in the Americas has emerged as a recurrent theme, one that has stirred much debate, discomfort, and moral outrage in some blog posts.  With its strong racist overtones, Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative is undoubtedly no exception to this theme, even as it sometimes features unexpected moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between herself and her native Algonquian captors.

For this Wednesday (2/15), students will offer an interpretation of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative that responds to the concerns raised in a previous student blog post: (focus on a specific idea or theme raised in the post).  Does Rowlandson’s life story confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance and genocide central to the English colonization of eastern North America?  Explain your answer in the political idiom John Locke used to understand the prevalence of war, violence, and slavery in human societies (see chapters 1-4 of The Second Treatise on Government)

The posts are due next Wednesday (Feb. 15th) by 1pm, but students have the option to edit and revise it until Friday 6pm.  Please categorize your post under “The Quest for Enlightenment” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags.  And please sign your posts so that your TA, Hannah, and I know who wrote what.

Warning: blank or filler “placeholder” posts submitted after the deadline will not receive a grade!


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