Propaganda and Early American Literature: Mary Rowlandson
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American Literature I ENGL 231
PROPAGANDA AND MARY ROWLANDSON
DEFINITIONS • from Latin, abl. singular feminine of propagandus, gerundive of propagare to propagate • doctrines, ideas, arguments, facts, or allegations spread by deliberate effort through any medium of communication in order to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause
KING PHILIP'S WAR ONE OF THE MOST DISASTROUS WARS IN AMERICA'S HISTORY
WHAT STARTS IT? • Colonists' hunger for land, as well as the heavy-handed treatment of the Wampanoag and other Native People by government officials, led to. • William Bradford (Plymouth Governor in 1621, and author of the history Of Plymouth Plantation) and Massasoit, the principal leader among the Wampanoag, forged an uneasy alliance. • Bradford died in 1657. • Massasoit died in 1660 and was succeeded by his son Wamsutta, called Alexander by the colonists. • With the passing of the first generation, the personal bonds which had helped to create a working peace ended.
• The two cultures' different ways of life and concepts of land use had caused tension for many years. • A continuing problem was the trampling of Native cornfields by colonists' livestock. While colonists were legally responsible for damage, such laws were difficult to enforce in remote areas such as Rehoboth and Taunton. • Increased competition for resources (particularly land for planting, hunting and fishing) caused friction between the two groups. • Changes in the regional economy, such as collapse in the fur trade, led many Native People to support themselves by selling their land. With other governments (Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut) all competing to establish their territories, Plymouth wanted exclusive rights to purchase land from the Wampanoags.
KING PHILIP'S WAR THE WAR: 1662 • In an arrogant attempt to exert control, the Plymouth Court summons Wamsutta to Plymouth. • Major Josiah Winslow and a small force seize Wamsutta at gunpoint. • Soon after questioning, Wamsutta sickened and died while in custody; his death outrages the Wampanoag.
• Wamsutta's brother Metacom (a.k.a. "Philip"--"King Phillip") succeeds Wamsutta. • Plymouth's continued unyielding policy toward Native leaders, as well as the events surrounding the murder of Sassamon, a liaison between the two groups, causes the breakdown in relations that led to war. • In 1675, hostilities break out in the town of Swansea, and the war spreads as far north as New Hampshire, and as far southwest as Connecticut. • Not all Native People, however, side with Philip. • Most Natives who had converted to Christianity fought with the English or remained neutral. The English, however, did not always trust these converts and interned many of them in camps on outlying islands. • Also, some Native communities on Cape Cod and the Islands did not participate in the war. • Native soldiers fighting on the side of the colonists helped turn the tide of the war, which ended in 1676 when Philip was killed by a Wampanoag fighting with Captain Benjamin Church.
KING PHILIP'S WAR THE EFFECTS • One of the bloodiest and most costly in the history of America. • One in ten soldiers on both sides was injured or killed. • Took years for Plymouth Colony and the others to recover from property and economic damage
• Devastating to the traditional way of life for Native People in New England. • Hundreds of Natives who fought with Philip were sold into slavery abroad. • Others, especially women and children, were forced to become servants locally. • As the traditional base of existence changed due to the Colonists' victory, the Wampanoag and other local Native communities had to adapt certain aspects of their culture in order to survive.
ROWLANDSON: THE SOVEREIGNTY AND GOODNESS OF GOD, A.K.A. • Which of the following best describes Mary Rowlandson, and why? What criteria do you use for each of these?
• Author • Storyteller • Writer • Historian
A NARRATIVE OF CAPTIVITY AND RESTORATION OF MRS. MARY ROWLANDSON, A.K.A. Which of these titles best befits the role that Mary Rowlandson plays in the canon of Colonial literature? • A Narrative of Captivity (the shorthand title used in present-day references to Rowlandson's anthologized story) [Rowlandson composed the narrative in 1678, shortly before her husband died.] • A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson, a Minister's Wife in New England. (London Edition, 1682) • The Sovereignty & Goodness of GOD, Together, With the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a NARRATIVE Of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Commended by her, to all that desires to know the Lords doings to, and dealings with Her. Especially to her dear Children and Relations. (The second Addition Corrected and amended.) Written by Her own Hand for Her private life, and now made Publick at the earnest Desire of some Friends, and for the benefit of the Afflicted. (1682)
• A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, who was taken Prisoner by the INDIANS with several others, and treated in the most barbarous and cruel Manner by those vile savages: With many other remarkable Events during her TRAVELS. (published 1682)
ROWLANDSON • What problems exist in regarding a literary narrative as an historical record? • Do you feel this is a result of the literal authority given the bible by Puritan society? • Or, rather, is it a result of propaganda to win European interest in the colonial project?
• Historical record or entertainment? • Is the entire narrative a form of conceit? Or, how literally is it to be taken? Why, or why not? • How would you describe the literary value of Rowlandson's writing?
STUDY QUESTIONS Divide into four groups and analyze the propagandistic force of Rowlandson's narrative based on the following. Use specific examples from the assigned passages to support your conclusions. GROUP 1 Models of Puritan Motherhood Third Remove GROUP 2 Lessons in Puritan Faith Fifth through Seventh Removes GROUP 3 Political Analysis Eighth Remove GROUP 4 Travelogue and Cultural Documentation Ninth through Twelfth Removes