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By Michelle Burnham

In a brand new interpretation and synthsis of hugely renowned 18th and nineteenth century ganres, Burnham examines the literature of captivity and offers a necessary redescription of the ambivilent origins of the U.S. nationwide narrative.

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Extra resources for Captivity and Sentiment: Cultural Exchange in American Literature, 1682-1861 (Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas)

Sample text

The dangers and possibilities of cultural exchange within the colonial contact zone would generate literary and political strategies associated with the secular genre of the novel, within whose sentimental discourse scenarios of captivity and escape would continue to be explored and exploited. The Mirror of Typology Mary White Rowlandson was the wife of Lancaster's Puritan minister, the daughter of the town's wealthiest original landowner, and the mother of three surviving children. Other than these familial relations, almost nothing is known of Rowlandson's life before her captivity.

The body of the captive, exchanged as an unusual sort of commodity between two social and military antagonists, consequently told a history in which often contradictory economic, cultural, and religious signs were articulated. Rowlandson's narrative ends with a tone of calm and a noticeable absence of descriptive detail, in striking contrast to its opening representation of the violent attack on Lancaster. Two woodcuts in a 1771 edition of Rowlandson's narrative nicely illustrate this stylistic shift from her narrative's first frantic scene to its rather orderly and routine conclusion.

Page 14 Such conflict and its effect on the texture of Rowlandson's account has become, for recent readers, the most fascinating aspect of her text, and the instant popularity of her narrative suggests that seventeenth-century readers also responded to those elements in her story that set it apart from much of the literature available in Puritan New England. 5 Indeed, the circulation of her text is no less important than Rowlandson's own circulation. Her book was one of the most popular in seventeenth-century New England and was read widely in both the old and the new worlds.

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