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Creation myths/narratives. Genre Genesis (Judeo-Christian) vs. Pima How would you compare/contrast the two? (cite specific textual details) More specifically, how would you compare/contrast the two in how they might foster a pro-ecological or anti-ecological perspectives? .

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creation myths narratives
Creation myths/narratives
  • Genre
  • Genesis (Judeo-Christian) vs. Pima
  • How would you compare/contrast the two? (cite specific textual details)
  • More specifically, how would you compare/contrast the two in how they might foster a pro-ecological or anti-ecological perspectives?
genesis vs pima
Genesis vs. Pima
  • Oral tradition
  • Specific topography, rooted in local knowledge of bioregion
  • Persons/creatures
  • Centrality of other creatures to narrative
  • “Make it useful”
  • Written text
  • Universal/garden
  • God/man/creatures
  • Centrality of man to narrative
  • “Dominion”
early american environmental texts

Early American Environmental Texts:

Rowlandson, Crevecoeur, Emerson

a narrative of the captivity and restoration of mrs mary rowlandson

A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

Published 1682

Some key terms/ideas: captivity narrative, wilderness, typological reading

  • 1675-78: King Philip’s War (First Indian War; Metacomet’s War)
  • Biggest military, economic, and political disruption in all of 17th C Puritan New England
  • Relative to the population at the time, the war was one of the most fatal and costly in North American history
  • Rowlandson captured after an attack on Lancaster, MA on the morning of February 10, 1676. She was held captive for 11 weeks
captivity narratives
Captivity Narratives
  • Rowlandson’s tale is an example of the genre “captivity narratives” that were common throughout the late-17th and 18th Cs.
  • Captivity narratives: stories of people captured by enemies they consider uncivilized. Sometimes these tales end in the return of the captive, other times in his/her “assimilation.”
captivity narratives1
Captivity Narratives
  • Framed by abduction and restoration.
  • Focus on travels, experience, and suffering.
  • Stress moral and religious meaning.
  • Generate stark divisions between familiar and unfamiliar, ‘civilized’ and ‘savage,’ even as such divisions are often also complicated by the narrative.
  • “Captivity” is usually only defined in one direction.
rowlandson s narrative
Rowlandson’s Narrative

Rowlandson, born in England and married to a clergyman in New England, found strength in her religion and used her captivity as evidence of God’s intervention and goodness.

Four printings in short amount of time, widespread readership, and first American “bestseller” (for over 150 years).

Biblical typology: a way of interpreting events as shaped by God and pre-figured by Biblical stories and parables.

Narrative has a dual structure: eternal narrative (typological) vs. removes.

American/biblical wilderness.

rowlandson s narrative1
Rowlandson’s Narrative

I went along that day mourning and lamenting, leaving farther my own country, and traveling into a vast and howling wilderness, and I understood something of Lot’s wife’s temptation, when she looked back. We came that day to a great swamp, by the side of which we took up our lodging that night. When I came to the brow of the hill, that looked toward the swamp, I thought we had been come to a great Indian town (though there were none but our own company). The Indians were as thick as trees: it seemed as if there had been a thousand hatchets going at once. If one looked before one there was nothing but Indians, and behind one, nothing but Indians, and so on either hand, I myself in the midst, and no Christian soul near me, and yet how hath the Lord preserved me in safety? Oh the experience that I have had of the goodness of God, to me and mine! (318)

typological reading
Typological reading
  • Events are lesson and warning for English
  • Story always mapped onto eternal truth and its Biblical textualization.
  • Thus, allowed ‘normal’ people to open book of scripture and see it as a type of their own experiences and stories.
  • Rowlandson’s text thus offers at least two ways that it wants itself to be read: the historical narrative and the biblical narrative.
rowlandson s narrative2
Rowlandson’s Narrative
  • Typological reading:

And after I was thoroughly hungry, I was never again satisfied. For though sometimes it fell out, that I got enough, and did eat till I could eat no more, yet I was as unsatisfied as I was when I began. And now I could see that Scripture verified (there being many Scriptures which we do not take notice of, or understand till we are afflicted) “Thou shalt eat and not be satisfied” (Micah 6.14). Now might I see more than ever before, the miseries that sin hath brought upon us. Many times I should be ready to run against the heathen, but the Scripture would quiet me again, “Shall there be evil in a City and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3.6) (327)

rowlandson s narrative3
Rowlandson’s Narrative
  • Organized into a series of “removes.”

But now, the next morning, I must turn my back upon the town, and travel with them into the vast and desolate wilderness, I knew not whither. It is not my tongue, or pen, that can express the sorrows of my heart, and bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure: but God was with me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along, and bearing up my spirit, that it did not quite fail. (312)

rowlandson s narrative4
Rowlandson’s Narrative
  • How does Rowlandson depict Native Americans?

Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures, with our bodies wounded and bleeding, and our hearts no less than our bodies. . . . This was the dolefulest night that ever my eyes saw. Oh the roaring, and singing and dancing, and yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell. And miserable was the waste that was there made of horses, cattle, sheep, swine, calves, lambs, roasting pigs, and fowl. (311)

rowlandson s narrative5
Rowlandson’s Narrative
  • Why do images of food/moments of eating come up often in the narrative?

The first week of my being among them I hardly ate any thing; the second week I found my stomach grow very faint for want of something; and yet it was very hard to get down their filthy trash; but the third week, though I could think how formerly my stomach would turn against this or that, and I could starve and die before I could eat such things, yet they were sweet and savory to my taste. (317)

america and wilderness
America and Wilderness
  • What makes America unique during the colonial period? It has tons of wild spaces!
  • America has a complicated relationship with wilderness: it is feared; it is loved; it is what makes America unique during the colonial period and onward.
  • In his seminal work, Wilderness and the American Mind, Roderick Nash argues that “wilderness was the basic ingredient of American civilization” (xi).
america and wilderness biblical views
America and WildernessBiblical Views
  • Eden, the perfect space, is a middle landscape (a form of pastoral). Wilderness is depicted as both positive and negative.
  • The Old Testament reveals that the ancient Hebrews regarded the wilderness as a cursed land.
  • Wilderness is associated with exile, punishment, being kicked out of Eden.
america and wilderness biblical views1
America and WildernessBiblical Views
  • But…the very harsh conditions of wilderness make it a place of sanctuary from society, a place of preparation for spirituality.
  • Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.
  • Jesus fasting and praying for 40 days and tempted by Satan in the Judean desert.
america and wilderness1
America and Wilderness
  • European colonists imagine America as a place of wilderness, where civilization can be built, but also an escape from the corruption of European society.
america and wilderness2
America and Wilderness
  • European colonists imagine America as a place of wilderness, where civilization can be built, but also an escape from the corruption of European society.

Later views:

  • Wilderness: challenging; rugged space; sublime. Escape comes from challenge to the self, the need for individual courage, the possibility of solitude and encounter with Otherness.
america and wilderness3
America and Wilderness

Negative View

  • It could kill you.
  • It could make you wild, uncivilized, evil.
  • “The pioneer, in short, lived too close to wilderness for appreciation” (Nash 24).
  • Example: Mary Rowlandson.
america and wilderness4
America and Wilderness

Positive Potential

  • Wilderness as spiritual place – Rowlandson’s reading of her experiences – if we hear most clearly from God in nature, then wilderness of America may make it a spiritual place
  • Freedom
  • Release from social conventions
  • Potential of developing an earthly paradise
for tuesday
For Tuesday

Reading questions:

  • At the time Emerson was writing, there really was no such thing as “American literature.” U.S. writers were assumed to be less sophisticated and important. How could Emerson’s essay, Nature, be seen as a manifesto rejecting the European tradition and standing up for American art and philosophy?
  • In Chapter I, “Nature” (28-30), what is the poet’s unique relationship with the landscape?
  • In his conclusion Emerson says, “Empirical science is apt to cloud the sight, and by the very knowledge of functions and processes, to bereave the student of the manly contemplation of the whole” (51). What is he saying here? Do you agree with him? What is Emerson’s overall relation to science in this essay?
  • Emerson was trained as a minister, but then broke with the church and embraced philosophy. How is this essay influenced by a Christian tradition, but how does it also depart from what we would typically consider Christian thought? (look especially at the last few pages)