Literature and History: The Development of American Culture to 1865

Greetings 271 Class!

Welcome to the new semester and our class blog. This will be the space where you share your ideas about the texts we are reading throughout the semester. Remember that you MUST sign up for a wordpress.com account by Wednesday, September 7th. Your account name should be your full name–that will make it easier to track your ideas and give you credit for your writing.
I’m re-posting the rules and regulations for our blog below. I look forward to reading your posts and comments. And remember, feel free to experiment with the form. Feel free to post links, film/audio clips, or anything else you think might enrich our blog and class.

Your comments can take several forms:

1) A continuation of our in-class discussion (something you might have thought of later or didn’t get a chance to say)

2) An observation about the way in which our discussion or the text relates to other texts we have read in the class

3) An observation about the way in which our discussion or the text relates to something else you have read or seen recently

4) A critical question about the reading (not “what happened?” but rather “what does it mean that…?”)

5) Something that might be of interest to the class given our discussions

6) A response to someone else’s post

The aim is to give you a space to reflect a bit on our readings and share ideas you are still formulating in a low-stress environment. I will not be judging your posts on how “right” or “wrong” they are, but on how much you’ve engaged the issues of the course analytically. It is my hope that you will use this space to have productive discussions, not just independent posts (and not just summary of the text). I will occasionally post questions to facilitate discussion. These comments don’t need to be particularly formal, but please spell-check and make sure they are intelligible. You will receive an overall qualitative grade for the frequency, thoughtfulness and general quality of your online participation at the end of the semester.

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2 responses

  1. torotiffany1991

    The reading was a little hard for me to grasp when I first began the assignment, I don’t know if anyone else will find this considering the English used.Maybe after a few post i can compare and see my understanding to a few of yours. But when reading the entry’s from Christopher Columbus I still found it very interesting reading as if from his point of view learning about his voyages and how unglamorous his journeys and life really was till the end. In his letter to Ferdinand and Isabella regarding his fourth voyage he is almost reminding the Royals of his original hopes of him coming to these new lands not to be hostile to those whom are being imperiled. He also said things as” I did not sail upon the voyage to gain honor or wealth”. From my understanding Columbus was in the most polite way taking a jab towards the King. In his words there was a sense of warning and everything Columbus did that was being overlooked, are things a “good” king who was to be honored and remembered would consider.
    The feeling of being warned was also felt while reading the Sermon of Winthrop. This long very religious passage really had a few key messages to all the passengers aboard heading to the new world. He was reminding the people of their insignificance as one person but value in community, doing for each other to carry fear and humiliation with them to their new land. Similar to this Sermon was the removes of Mary Rowlandson. She also showed her pain and struggle through her religious beliefs’ can help but think of how much the world has changed being that now America is so open to various religions and beliefs systems yet no matter how far we humans go, in times of struggle worry or hardship believing in a greater being always seems to be an instinct.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm

  2. jlblakely

    Tiffany, I definitely agree with you in that the style of writing in which Columbus wrote was a bit difficult to get through! His life was very unglamorous and there was such a dynamic and tonal shift from the first letter to the fourth letter in his writings. Columbus’s life was difficult, as we discussed in class, but most of us agreed that we do not feel bad for him. I especially did not feel bad for him when he spoke of the natives as commodities- no different to the trees, fruit, and the land’s other resources. He was so excited and optimistic at first in discovering new lands and describes such a lush paradise and exotic people that he had come upon. He lies and exaggerates about the “Eden” he came upon to justify the amount of money already spent on exploration. We then see such a quick shift after some time in Columbus’s expedition, where we find him bitter and feeling betrayed by his King and Queen. The land is exhausted and exploited, and Columbus now described the Natives as savages. All I could think of while reading this is how different this story is than the stories we learned about Columbus when we were very young. I understand that at a young age we could not be told that most of the Natives were taken advantage of, and all were mostly killed, and how their lands were fruitless and exhausted. I find it ironic that even as we grew up, history textbooks and other stories about Columbus still kept his “good” reputation intact, unless we were to find on our own a more detailed story about Columbus’s expedition-such as the one we read last week. The memory of being in second or third grade and performing the Thanksgiving Play- where the Pilgrims and Indians share all that they have and everyone got along and lived in peace will always be imprinted in my mind, simply knowing now that this was not the case at all. Also, in children’s books Columbus is depicted in such a valiant and heroic way in which he “discovered” America. Meanwhile, in a way, America was “discovered” by stealing and forcefully taking lands that had always been there way before Columbus came into the picture and “saved the day”.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:47 am

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