Friday, January 29, 2010

"as a Citty upon a Hill"

Here is portion of Ronald Reagan's farewell address that contains the allusion to John Winthrop. The relevant portion begins at about the 3:10 mark.

Week 2 Lectures

DOWNLOAD 1-29-10 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 1-27-10 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 1-25-10 lecture.

Hope Leslie

Two bits of information. First, for those of you waiting to buy the used copies on order at the Student Center bookstore, here is a link to volume 1 of an on-line edition of the novel. Here is a link to volume 2.

Second, and for everyone: on the syllabus I left out vol. 1, chs. 6-7. That will be our assignment for Monday. As you read, think about whether the Everell-Magawisca relationship parallels the mythic John Smith-Pocahontas love story or whether it represents something else.

A reminder that the quiz will be on Monday. It will cover Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity" and Hope Leslie though chapter 7. It will not cover Anne Hutchinson's testimony, since on-line versions of the text differ from the one in the anthology.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anne Hutchinson's Testimony

I learned today that some of you still have not been able to buy an anthology. Here, then, is a link to excerpts from Anne Hutchinson's 1637 testimony.

Unfortunately this text is edited and excerpted somewhat differently than the version in the anthology. For this reason, I don't think I can put a passage from Hutchinson's testimony on Friday's quiz. The passages will thus come from Winthrop's sermon, "A Modell of Christian Charity," or the preface and first five chapters of Hope Leslie.

Read the testimony, though, and ask yourself why Winthrop would have bothered to write this down and have it published. If he thinks of Hutchinson as a heretic, doesn't this just allow her to publicize her dangerous ideas? Do you think he thinks he's refuting her ideas? Doesn't she seem to be holding her own?

Friday, January 22, 2010

1-25 Reading Assignment

The University of Virginia's library makes available a version of Winthrop's "A Modell of Christian Charity," a sermon he composed and delivered while sailing from Europe to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Winthrop became the colony's first governor and figures now as the most important of the Protestant dissenters (the "Puritans," we usually call them) who colonized portions of the New World. We will meet him again on Monday when we discuss Anne Hutchinson, the most significant early challenger to Winthrop's authority.

As you read, think about Winthrop alongside Smith. Does his writing style seem different? Does he make clear a different purpose for the Massachusetts colony? Above all, how does he compare as a "founding father"? Can you think of a good reason to begin "American literature" here rather than with Smith?

"Jamestown 2007"

Three years ago the state of Virginia celebrated what it called "America's 400th Anniversary," an event marking the fact that the colony at Jamestown--the first permanent English settlement in what would become the United States--took place in 1607. We just read John Smith's account of it, published in 1623 (which is to say, already at some historical remove: Smith had written several accounts of Jamestown's early days already, each time adding to the story according to what he was trying to achieve and whom he was trying to reach with each text).

For the 400th Anniversary the state produced a website that you might find interesting. Of particular interest may be the following introductory video, which is narrated by Queen Elizabeth II.

What do you think of how this "text," created at a far historical remove from 1607, handles Jamestown's complexity? How does it compare to Smith's account?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1/22 Reading Assignment

Since our anthology seems to be arriving late, we will make use of a web resource for our first reading assignment.

For Fri., the assignment is to read an extract from John Smith's Generall History of Virginia, The Somer Isles, and New England (1623). This link will take you Book III, ch. 1 (p. 85) of one version of Smith's narrative archived at the Library of Congress. Read ch. 1, ch. 2, and ch. 3 (pp. 85-110 in the LOC version). As you read, think about the following question: If we regard Smith's narrative as one of the "beginnings" of American literature, what then can we say about American literature (and America itself) at its origins?

You may also think about whether, if you were teaching this course, you would begin with a different text. Would you back it up to Christopher Columbus, which would move us more than a century earlier and make the first work of American literature a text written in Spanish? Would you begin with Native American oral narratives, which would remove us from the Gregorian calendar and world of print altogether? Would you begin with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or some other figure from the Revolutionary War era? Would you begin somewhere else? My point in asking the questions is to underscore something from the first lecture: that there is no single, universally agreed upon point of origin for American literature. Rather, there is a range of possibilities, each of which might lead us to conceptualize "American literature" differently.

Last, as you read, pay particular attention to the story that begins on p. 101 and involves Smith and someone named Pocahontas. Perhaps you've heard of her. This marks the first time that story was published. How does it compare to the versions you've heard elsewhere? And why, for that matter, has this story stayed with for so long?