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Monthly Archive for October, 2014

Olaudah Equiano

For Equiano, what distinguishes his life in slavery across the Atlantic from what he remembers of life in Africa? Does he feel that only ill befell him after leaving Africa? Does he seem to identify himself as African, Western, or both?

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William Byrd and Plantation Life

Judging from the excerpt you read from William Byrd’s secret diary, what do you think is most important to him in his day-to-day life? Why are those things important? How would you describe his general outlook and tone in the diary? Do you think his diary entries are consistent with the description of his life […]

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What role do material goods play in Samuel Sewall’s courtship of Katherine Winthrop (the widow of a descendant of John Winthrop)?  To what extent do Sewall and Winthrop have a shared consumer vocabulary, a shared sense of self defined in part by goods?  Are there ways in which their understandings of consumer goods separate them? […]

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How does Jonathan Edwards think people can know when they have been converted to God? What are the language and images through which Edwards conveys the experience of conversion? What is Edwards trying to explain to Benjamin Colman about “the extraordinary circumstances …with respect to religion” unfolding in his town and how does he do […]

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Looking at the transciprts of the witch trials, it might be fair to say they have somewhat predictable narrative arcs, a ritual pattern of unfolding.  How would you describe that pattern?  What are the variations on it?  Since Cotton Mather was neither stupid nor ignorant, do these examinations, when coupled with Wonders of the Invsible […]

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What is the condition of Mary Rowlandson’s life and spirit before her captivity? How do you know? What are the conventions, language and images through which she communicates her state? After reading the last few pages of the narrative, how would you say Rowlandson has been transformed by captivity?

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The Puritan Way of Death

What are the similarities among these grave stones? How would you describe the conventions of mortuary art in New England, 1650-1700? What might the grave stones tell us about the colonists’ understanding of death? Are they afraid? Looking forward to an afterlife?

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