American Captivity Narratives
(Amerikai fogságnarratívák) in autumn 2017
Bodnár Ágnes Anett
, Thu 13:30–15:00
seminar, 30 h/term; strong prereq: BBN-AME-211
description & set texts
The captivity experience is a basic component of American culture as the forcible removal of people not only resulted in crossing actual frontiers but implied the trespassing of cultural and ethno-racial barriers as well. The captivity narrative performs an important role not only in literature, as it also has historical, social, and cultural implications. While the central product is the Indian captivity narrative commemorating the experiences of white settlers in the confinement of Native Americans, the genre includes accounts of Americans enslaved in North Africa, the North American slave narrative, the anti-Catholic convent narrative, personal accounts of prisoners of war, the prison narrative, and the reports of individuals kidnapped by criminals. Although the above mentioned texts focus on the physical and literal aspects of captivity, the motive appears in a figurative sense in contemporary literature and film culture as well. The course will invite you to look at the development of the genre from the 17th to the 20th century challenging the formation of American national identity and will examine the cultural work of the captivity narrative.
The main themes of the course include the captivity narrative as a literary genre, the application of the relevant critical apparatus mainly focusing on subjectivation and the achievement of subject status in relation to contemporary power complemented with the identification of structural components (separation, transformation, return).
Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. Delta, 1999.
Douglass, Frederick. “The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Eds. Nina Baym et al. New York: Norton, 1989. pp. 833-864.
Gee, Joshua. Narrative of Joshua Gee 1680-1687.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. The Feminist P, 1996.
Hammon, Briton. A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man, –-Servant to General Winslow, of Marshfield, in New-England. Gale Ecco, Print Editions, 2010.
Ridge, John Rollin. “The Stolen White Girl.” The New Anthology of American Poetry. Traditions and Revolutions, Beginnings to 1900. ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Vol.1., Rutgers: U of New Jersey, 2003. pp. 517-18.
Rowlandson, Mary. “The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. . . being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” Held Captive by Indians. Selected Narratives. 1642-1836. ed. Richard VanDerBeets. Knoxville: U of Tennesse P, 1994. pp. 41-90.
requirements & assessment
-read the assignments for each class, bring the texts for every lesson (using e-texts is allowed);
-contribute to the discussion of the seminars;
-give one in-class presentation; the presentation length is 15 minutes, (areas to be covered: relevant part of the author’s biography, summary of the given text, application of course materials, especially the respective theoretical apparatus: performative, performance, subjectivation etc.)
-submission of a term paper on the main aspects of physical or metaphysical captivity in any text covered during the seminar
-requirements of a term paper: length: 1200-1500 words, areas to be covered: relevant part of the author’s biography, autobiographical elements in the text, main themes, appropriate literary criticism (a survey of the views of critics on the given work). Grading aspects: contents, grammatical correctness, appropriate style, structure. In all matters of form use MLA format. Use Times New Roman font, typed in number 12, line spacing 1.5. No late paper policy, deadlines are not negotiable. Plagiarism will not be tolerated;
-final grading will be based on the results of the mid-term quiz, the in-class presentation, and the term paper.