A System of Convenient Truths

By: Leena Maria Beddawi

Something which may come as a surprise while going through Mary Rowlandson’s narrative piece about her time in Algonquian captivity, are the many ways in which the native people and herself get along, even with her being an English colonizer, she was treated with humanity and even made relationships with some of the natives themselves. The narrative itself acts as a journal of her time in captivity, and this becomes one of the few examples of an “accurately” portrayed relationship which goes beyond the war in which the Algonquian people found themselves in with the English colonizers, due to their abhorrent lack of respect and dignity.

Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation. The question, in brief, is…this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”

― Noam Chomsky

However, that being said, the themes of genocide and sexism raised in Thomas Pham’s earlier blog post portrays almost entirely too well the reality in which we are in today, where the ignorance, misconstruction, or a purely imaginative version of history is easier for future generations to digest, therefore the watered down versions are given platforms to explain the past, and a whole generation of people are remembering and learning history based on entirely false accusations. This was how the American public would grapple with the many atrocities they placed onto innocent people, and how we currently allow ourselves in the age of technology to believe falsehoods because they are simply easier to deal with. Going to war with another group of people merely for something as quintessentially useless as power and land is the history of the world post-Anthropocene.

No matter how much easier it is to paint a perfectly sweet story about the” city upon a hill”, corroborated by evidence among the likes of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, the history itself should not be erased, glossed over, or romanticized. As depicted in Dryden and Winthrop’s pieces as well, we see this manufactured folksy image reappear as if to show just how tolerant the natives were upon getting colonized, this is unsurprisingly a complete exaggeration of the facts which accurately define how Indigenous and English colonials treated one another. more people saw the success the false narrative genre was receiving and capitalized on said phenomenon. What is equally as successful is the number of counternarratives we see today which push past the propaganda like this and tell a story earnestly and honestly, but this “accuracy” has sadly become so muddled, most of it is subjective, but we believe what we want to believe, nonetheless.



Set Free

As Rowlandson begins to recount this story as a chronicle, she tended to make the focal point of the narrative on the occurrences and personal encounters that she’s experienced. I felt that Rowlandson’s storytelling wasn’t necessarily influenced by her own personal feelings, but instead it also does not signify that her narrative was objective. The style in which she writes this narrative seems to be in a perspective where she illustrates incidents given from an outside spectator. From an outside perception one could only assume that the storyteller does not share the same sentiments as the main character experiencing this torture. Much of history is told this way. She shares the narrative of her imprisonment after being set free. The tone throughout her story seems to be a bit informative as she makes this experience be taken as a lesson in life. Most cross cultural, cross linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquin captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of America is very intricate to answer.

During her captivity her captors treat her as dirt as the colonizers treated the natives. Upon colonizing Native American lands, Europeans viewed this movement and action of war to be something that would change the history of migration and its people. They had no resentment towards the men, women, and children that were slaughtered and sexually abused during their colonization. At this point in the narrative, the natives want revenge or at least they seek it. When the natives held her in captivity, colonizers viewed this to be an act of terrorism even though they themselves had done the same to the Native American people. In Dryden’s play we see the European attack towards the natives and their prejudice to forcefully become superior to Native American Indians. They were not only forced to fall under their Kings rule, but they were also forced to give up their lands in exchange for their lives.

On the other hand, you can see how standoffish Rowlandson was towards the indigenous people after they had killed her own. Again this narrative was written through an outside perspective, so I feel that even the narrator was unaware or at least biased towards the relationship of between Europeans and the Indigenous people. All in all, it would further add much more complexity to the history of intolerance as wars are often now fought for living rather than a battle stemmed from purpose.

-Rosalinda Flores

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

For this Wednesday (2/13), students will offer an interpretation of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative that responds to theme of genocide and sexism raised in a previous student blog post: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/a-city-upon-intolerance-and-genocide/ Do moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America?  Explain your answer in the context of our previous readings by Dryden and Winthrop.

The posts are due next Wednesday (Feb. 13th) by 9:30am.  Please categorize your post under “The Quest for Enlightenment” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags.  And please include your full name so that your TA, Zakir, and I know who wrote what.

The Administration

Somewhere over by what use to be Maryland, near the coast, in the city of B.C.E there lived a man named Beorge Gush. was a simple man. He got up everyday and did the very least of what he was meant to do as his wife nagged him about all his other responsibilities that he already knew about but was too busy watching SNL reruns to really care. One day she sent him to the next city over to pick up some oil she needed to cook and heat up the house. She wasn’t out of gas or anything, she just needed more in case the one she had at home ran out. He reluctantly got up, put on his jacket and walked out the town with a metal jug for oil. He got the oil right away as the people in the next city were easy to take advantage of. Before he got back to town, he stopped under a tree to take a quick nap.
“I dont wana see that deplorable woman anyway” he sighed as he closed his eyes.
 Not long after (something like 10 minutes he wrote once) he woke up and decided to return to the city. He noticed a huge wall standing at the edge of the city that he swore wasn’t there before.  He looked and was shocked as he didn’t recognize anything or anyone. These strange people were dressed like nothing Beorge had seen before!  Their light colored hair was nicely combed to the right and their skin pale and rough. They wore what appeared to be a soldier’s uniform with a particularly red colored helmet and a band on the left side of their arm with a picture of an elephant on it. Beorge watched them as they had huge glasses of beer outside right on the side of a street outside of a tavern laughing and talking loudly echoing through the streets. Beorge tried to walk quickly by them as they watched him with eyes so low you could barely see a sliver of blue coming from their iris and their banter competed with laughter from another group of young men not far away.They didn’t talk to people walking down the street or passing by them, they stayed in their circle of friends and laughed loudly amongst themselves.

Beorge came to what he believed to be his house, but his house was long gone. In place of not only his house but his whole street stood a long wide one floor convenience store. A huge sign over the door read AmeriMart.On the sliding door of the store there was a headshot of a man and underneath it read, SPONSORED BY THE ADMINISTRATION. He leaned in closer to try and get a closer look of who was in the picture but he didn’t recognize him at as he looked like all the young men he saw on the street with nicely combed hair and sparkling blue eyes. “Don’t get your hot breathe all over the Admiral’s image!” someone yelled at Beorge from behind his back. “The Who?” Beorge replied. “THE ADMIRAL!” someone else yelled from the side of the convenience store. “Hes only responsible for you being here! Alive and free in this great city! How did you even get passed the wall?!” Suddenly Beorge began to hear more and more voices surrounding him. The voices yelled “Commie!” “SJW Trash!” “Sinner” and so many other insults Beorge couldn’t keep even decipher what they meant. The crowd continued to surround him. Hands reaching out towards him as he tried to walk back but more hands were there. They got him from the neck and as a team did the deed. 


Reasoning: My piece is a parody of Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving. I wanted to focus on the scene where he comes back and realizes his town is completely different with changes symbolizing the changes in the country during the time. I wanted to do a piece of the current change America is facing. I tried to turn the satire feel of the changing town to the next level and attempt to create allusions and references to keep the comedy element of the satire present with the names of the people and city all refer to something political. It sounds a little weird but I named him Beorge Wush because I wanted to keep it sort of historically relevant and imagining George Bush slept threw Obama’s presidency and arrive in Trumps America made sense to me.  Trying to bring out what I thought of a bit comical in Van Winkle, I attempted to make symbolic connections to the major changes of Van Winkles town. The people changing to mean and extremely political in Van Winkle have turned into nazi looking guys in the parody. As for the form and style, I read over Irvings work and tried to identify key elements of style to try and imitate.  I noticed the ending was very interesting in the way he rushes the action as Van Winkle goes from one scene to another discovering horrible things every turn before he is confronted. I attempted to use this method in the piece to bring the same story telling element seen in Irving’s work and also to keep the short piece eventful and interesting. Overall I was attempting to deliver a similar message Irving was writing about during his time. He focused on the changing political atmosphere and how sudden and serious these changes can be and how easily someone in the right mindset, like an average joe, can be affected.

-Noel Nevarez

Dear Woke of my Country


Dear Woke of my County

Dear woke of my county, darkness engulf all that we see.

The orange leader is killing us slowly.

I want to be proud of this nation, and it to be free.

All we do is give to this nation, but we lack equality.

Stay bright and loud to fight our way through this.

Have you woken up yet? This country was never great.

This country is spiralling into the abyss.

We need to clean the executive slate.

Dear woke of my country, be the light that we need.

Spread love and cleanse hate.

Don’t give up, we can succeed.

We must “Win”, because our county is at stake.

The pulse of the muslims and the mexicans,

Throbbed for the glory of this country.

We must unite Americans.

And get rid of this orange junkie.


For this creative writing project I choose to imitate Thomas Moore poem, “Dear Harp of My Country.” Moore’s poem is centered around Irish nationalism, he writes to preserve and protect his culture. Moore want Ireland to be free from the choking grip of the United Kingdom. Britain’s imperial conquest during the 18 century effective began to silence Ireland’s culture. In 1763, Britain won the 7 years war, causing the formulated of the United Kingdom. Irish literature illustrates how the Irish were rebelling against the expectations to assimilate into British culture. This caused the tensions between Britain and Ireland to only rise. Moore is of Irish descent, meaning, that this poem is his attempts to preserve his culture in a time of “darkness.” Moore is proud to be an Irishman and his poem calls upon his countrymen to join in and fight for Ireland. I wanted to take this idea of use it for the basis for my intimation poem. Instead of uses it in the original setting, Ireland, I instead choose to use modern day America. I did this because I see that the Message in moore poem is relevant now in america because of the current presidency. Both Moore and I feel that our voices are not being heard our in politics. Trump seeks to minimize the people’s voice. We can not become silent to the wrong we see, because if we go silence and stop fighting we normalize the behavior and allow it to become culturally acceptable. Trumps hate is  harmful on what it means to be an American. I Call upon the America’s to stay “Woke” and continue to fight against inequality and hate that the White House is trying to force us to subscribe too. We need to be loud. We need to fight against President Trump  and prevent him from running this country into the ground. The term woke, is modern day slang about staying socially conscious. So if you’re “woke” spread the message and stay loud. The authorial voice I used for this poem was built in the context of modern day America. While I did want the voice of my essay to my own, I did want to keep it similar to the original. So I went through the original and picked out terms I liked and used it in my poem. Also, I kept the same structure and rhyming pattern as the original poem. my format choice were to more accurately imitate this poem. While my poem is similar to the original, it is still very different. The biggest difference between the two people is the seen in the voice and language.  When i was creating my poem, I choose a different setting than moore. This difference caused the caused the language of the poems to be different; but the similarities in purpose of the creation of the two poems  causes the two poems moods to be similar.

  • Conor Morgan

An American Sky

It was never this hard before, thought Guillermo De La Rosa as he stretched out his arm, pulling himself out from a muggy tunnel; it was daytime when he reentered the United States—San Diego. He untied the torn, red flannel from about his waist and dusted himself off, and when he got to wiping the sweat from his brow, he began to cry. “I promised you Natalie. I promised you that we would watch the American stars until the day we die,” he whimpered to an empty space beside him. Clutching the shirt to his face, absorbing the tears, he recalled the last time he saw his family: they were all there, standing outside by the patio with distraught, confused faces as the police car rushed out the driveway. The mother of the two little boys stayed by the door, hunched over, screaming into her shaking hands, while the boys ran to the street where they saw their father looking back at them, “Papi! Please! Don’t go!” That was the last time he saw Arturo and Diego—twelve years ago—they were seven and nine years old then. Wiping the last of his tears, he gathered himself and grabbed his backpack, rushing to the city to find his family.

He found himself in an old town where he would play handball with his old friends, all of which were now either in Mexico or no longer played. So, he decided to visit the courts in hopes to see people playing, but found nothing but a spray-painted fence covering unwanted debris. Different variations of “Fuck Trump” covered the entire fence; same words, different style. He was shaking his head with both perplexity of the court being torn down, and with amusement towards the graffiti, when he heard a crowd of young adults yelling what he had just read. Down the street, a Chicanx movement group was protesting the latest Trump executive order. Guillermo didn’t understand why they were shouting profanities aloud while there were children around, and he had an even deeper misunderstanding of what they were protesting. “You’re not with the movement old man?” a young man in a neatly combed hairdo asked Guillermo. “No? Uh. I-I-I don’t know, I’m sorry… My-my-my family…” he anxiously replied. “NO?! Well if you’re not going to fight for our rights then stay out of our way!” the young man shouted. Confused by what had just happened, he walked to a bus stop where he could still hear the faint chanting of the group. He was relieved to discover the bus route had not changed, and neither had the fare. Stepping off the bus, however, felt different; the wind that met him as the doors opened fell heavy on his shoulders. Nearing his old house, he felt his bones quiver, which made it hard for him to keep himself from falling to his knees, but soon enough he found it—with a new red door. At that moment he looked up, and realized the sky was no longer the same.

To Readers (if you exist),

I chose to recreate Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” in relation to its theme—or at least what I could take away from it as the theme. There was always this sense of uncertainty with defining anything that I found within the story. Life is constantly changing, as are the times, and I wanted to reflect on that with my own short story. I knew I wanted to recreate Irving’s story because I wanted to relate it back to the situation with immigration in modern day United States, to sort of satirize Trump’s America. Therefore, instead of a blatant attack on the U.S. president, I wanted to use a personal inquiry of my own to push the story forward. I imagined what it would be like if my own father had reentered the United States, what his interactions with others would be like, how he would feel. So, that’s why my story follows an undocumented father that reenters the United States after twelve years to reunite with his family. His encounter with a young man at a protest, for me, was both extremely funny and upsetting through the irony set in place. Here you have a privileged man protesting for the rights of undocumented folk shaming Guillermo for not “being about” a movement, which can be both funny and disturbing in the sense that the young man is being hypocritical. I ended the story with a new red door and a completely different sky—not the “American” one he promised his lover they would share forever, which was meant to symbolize how much the times have changed, and perhaps, how he may never make it back.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Rowlandson’s narrative tells it all.


I believe that the story confirms, contradicts, and complicates the history of intolerance and genocide.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative gives a lens and perspective that complicates the morals attached to colonization -it creates a moral dilemma, if you will.  The imagery she presents in her writing, with the murder of one of her children, and the kidnapping of others, appeals to the emotions of the readers; whether the reader wants to or not, they will somehow sympathize with Rowlandson’s vexing experience.

At the same time, her description confirms the retaliation the natives released in their state of vigilant anger. While one may be in the position of sympathy, when reading her written work, it is the implicit understanding of that historical background, which lead up to that moment of retaliation, that one has to think about.  In Rowlandson’s experience, in comparison to the bigger picture of the American Holocaust -the systematic genocide of slavery, and violence, genocide- we can see that the numbers in the death toll do not compare.

In terms of contradiction, the story becomes so because of all of the above.  There is an internal conflict that goes on upon reading it.  We sympathize, we become angry, we are in the moment, while at the same time going back into the cruel history that led up to the crime.  We also have to be careful not to use our 21st century way of thinking when close reading this piece, but one can’t help but question any document written so long ago that one is not able to get answers to all the questions we have.  Why did she write this? Where was she when she wrote this? What effect did her gender role play on how she wrote it? What was she possibly forced to write in order to continue to the stereotype the natives were cast in? While we may not have the answers, one can conclude that she really believe that God was on her side, thus according to her, everything she saw and felt was correct.  More contradiction is when she refers to them as savages, even after the fact when they actually treated her well.

The lack of evidence, other than her words, creates a big gap.  And all we can do as a reader is look at it and attempt to put ourselves in that time period, and take from it our own individual understanding.

-Maricela Martinez

The paradox of America



Mary Rowlandson’s life story confirms the history of intolerance and genocide central to the English colonization of Eastern North America. John Locke when discussing slavery first states “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of men but to be ruled only by the law of nature.”, but he finishes his issues on slavery with “What I have been discussing is the condition of complete slavery, which is just a continuation of the state of war between a lawful conqueror and a captive. If they enter into any kind of pact—agreeing to limited power on the one side and obedience on the other—the state of war and slavery ceases for as long as the pact is in effect. For, as I have said, no man can by an agreement pass over to someone else something that he doesn’t himself have, namely a power over his own life.” This quote from Locke which is so vital because of his immense influence and role on colonization, is important because he begins with the natural rights people are born with but then finishes supporting slavery contradicting both ideas. I think demonstrates the contradicting attitudes people have about intolerance and genocide. Although we are against intolerance as a society there is always something we are intolerant about that we eventually come around to. Mary Rowlandson in her narrative refers to the Native Americans as savages and ruthless people but as soon as she gets to know them her dialect and observations cause the audience to notice the similarities between ‘savages’ and the colonizers. For example, the important women spend large amounts of time getting ready just like the high society women of class in the colonies or even back in Britain, the mother have endearing terms for the children, and they have their own customs and religion, as well as a democratic government amongst themselves in a way. At the time it was okay to see the Natives as this way because that’s how any ‘civilized’ society saw them, but now we regret the way we treat them because we realize the Native Americans were no different than us. This ties into John Locks quotes because to me, it seems that he is presenting the natural rights of people but also making it sound like he supports slavery, so he is essentially saying that slavery is okay and that to have slavery its not for the people we view as not having those rights. When Mary Rowlandson was captured she herself was not treated the way Locke describes true slavery, she learned the language, she was given a horse when she needed it, she became apart of them and that isn’t the formal definition of slavery Locke is describing. Because people have these rights we do need to accept them and most the time its hard for us to ignore them so we alter true forms of slavery. It’s also significant because I think this also demonstrates how we as a society has developed our attitudes toward slavery. We recognize these alienable rights and as we grow and become more and more accepting it gets harder and harder to have formal prejudices against anything. In our history we have over came prejudices with race, culture, sexual orientation and more and Locke and Rowlandson do a great job demonstrating just how we are prone to wanting to have prejudices but we also respect alienable rights and as we become more accepting we find something else to have prejudice against. To participate in Locke’s version of true slavery it would be against all the rights that the colonizers would eventually fight for so to me these examples just demonstrate the contradictory nature of prejudice in America.  This ties into the previous blog post because its so crucial to understand that America is supposed to be this “City upon the Hill’ and lead by example, but we are such a contradictory society that makes so many mistakes in regards to prejudice and genocide that it is truly ironic. America is symbolic of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ but it truly has always been limited to the majority with the people who are in some form different struggling to have the same recognized rights.

(still revising)

English Revolution

56 years ago NFL Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen passed for an NFL record 3,724 yards in a single season. Since then 248 other quarterbacks have thrown for more passing yards and the significance of that 56 year old number has become irrelevant in the football world. Similarly, when asked if the quote, “City upon a Hill” holds the same meaning today as it did when said by Winthrop in 1630? The answer would be no. American exceptionalism was a popular belief by British society that America has superiority over other countries because of its pure uncolonized history. In addition, fellow Englishman John Milton believed in the hill in Athens as a special judicial location. Although, both Men believed in these locations as historical, today they are simply part of today’s society. For example, our country has shown its military and athletic dominance over other countries, however we do not receive any special worldly or supernatural privileges. Meanwhile the Areopagus hill serves as wonderful place to take a hiking selfie. The idea of a “City upon a Hill” is simply broken and overlooked like an old NFL record.
Furthermore, plenty of aspects of society have changed over 387 years since the “City upon a Hill,” quote. My initial reaction to hearing the quote was simply pondering on that one day if I work hard enough I will be able to afford to live there. In today’s capitalist society cities upon the hills are for the wealthy. I’m sure real estate in 1630 England had wealthy areas as well, however did they have TV shows for their wives? For example, areas such as Beverly Hills have had TV shows created to provide the public insight of these luxurious regions. Although, they are watched and judged by the world like Winthrop said in 1630 they are not the light to the world or biblical lifestyles. In a city like this the only thing that cannot be hidden is their lust for materialist pleasures. I’m sure English revolutionaries John Winthrop and John Milton did not have this in mind 3 centuries ago.

Dario Lomeli

The Foundations of a Timeless City

John Winthrop’s “A Modell of Christian Charity” describes a moral and beneficial type of community which the colonies should follow in order to produce the healthiest environment for progress.

While Winthrop develops his ideal for community with his roots in Christianity, many of the core reasons surrounding his ideology have the potential to be universal. For example, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you” is a simple yet fundamental pillar to society and community. Simply treating others in a way you would like to be treated has grown to be very normal in the 21st century. In regards to being an example of “a city upon the hill,” this American colony will be the precursors to a large and vast country of freedom and unity. Winthrop’s vision for the future and the potential of man is what truly stands out in the text; not without differences compared to Raegan and Obama. It is not entirely that American exceptionalism is the focus of the piece, but that the individuals and social guidelines that create such a community is what truly matters. Furthermore, the city he so highly thinks of has been chosen through divine right, subject also to scrutiny from the church as well as the New World. While the rhetoric revolves around charity and Christian values,  the deeper social ramifications of being a highly visible city is one of uncertainty.

As Obama once said in his farewell address, “I learn from each and every one of you every day;” suggesting that the human relationship built between both government and the people fosters an environment of progress. This progression towards a better America partly constitutes the “city upon a hill” concept that Winthrop preached about. While the language of the message has changed with the years, the central idea of morality has not. Although, the political message of Winthrop’s scrutiny versus Reagan’s self-proclaimed greatness is the dividing difference. Winthrop stresses the importance of “proving” oneself while Reagan pridefully claims that America is already great.

And so, much of Winthrop’s optimism for a better future is kept alive by the American people in a way that emphasizes human connection and charity above political or economic progression. Without the support and inter-dependency between people and government, such a “city upon a hill” would never have lasted beyond Winthrop’s time.


-Daniel Corral