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St. Herbert-A Tale (1796)

 

frontispiece from the NY Weekly Magazine, 1796

First serialized in the New-York Weekly Magazine in 1796 where it appeared under the byline “Anna,” and subsequently published in multiple editions in the 1810s when it was credited to “An American Lady,” St. Herbert-A Tale traces the difficulties that arise over generational tensions surrounding the issue of companionate marriage. Its gothic frame locates much of the action of the novel in a haunted castle in upstate New York, but the text also diverges from the typical tropes of the gothic and sentimental genres in interesting ways. Featuring a complex reflection on the possibilities of a Catholic vision for salvation for disheartened Protestants, muted references to enslaved labor in shaping the development of upstate New York, and an extended portrait of an elderly Cayuga man likely modeled on Logan, the novella opens up multiple horizons for conversation and classroom consideration.

 

 

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St. Herbert, A Tale (1796) 

Following are excerpts from responses written by participants who have included this text in their teachings. To read the essays in their entirety, click on the “more” link at the end of each excerpt.

St. Herbert in the American Lit Sophomore Survey Class

Derrick Spradlin Freed-Hardeman University I taught St. Herbert in my ENG 235 American Literature I course, a sophomore-level course taken primarily by students to fulfill the general education literature requirement, though there are normally a couple of English majors in each 35-person class. This past semester, I used St. Herbert as the primary text for […]

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“Not Even New York Was Enough to Lighten Her Mood”: Teaching St. Herbert in Brooklyn

Caroline Chamberlin Hellman City Tech, City University of New York I taught St. Herbert—A Tale in an American literature survey (beginnings-Civil War). Embarking with a discussion of the Lenape alongside Eric Sanderson’s miraculous Mannahatta project and concluding with Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl, the class covered vast territory. As City Tech […]

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Lost and Found: Empowering Student Archival Research Through “Just Teach One”

Rochelle Raineri Zuck University of Minnesota Duluth When I first heard about Profs. Duncan Faherty and Ed White’s “Just Teach One” project, which provides digital scholarly editions of “neglected or forgotten texts” for classroom use, I was really excited at the prospect of introducing new material into my American novels course (Faherty and White “Welcome”).  […]

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It’s Great Upstate: Teaching St. Herbert in Rural New York

Megan Walsh St. Bonaventure University St. Herbert (1796) is a short novel about a group of people who visit and live in a remote part of rural upstate New York. Many of them learn important life lessons while there, and often enough, also find romantic love. St. Bonaventure University is a small liberal-arts focused school […]

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St. Herbert and the Man of Feeling

Gillian Silverman University of Colorado Denver I taught St. Herbert this past fall in an upper division survey course: American Literature to the Civil War.  The course proceeded roughly chronologically, and so we read the novella shortly after covering works such as Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, the writings of Thomas Jefferson, and Phillis Wheatley’s poetry.  It […]

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“Just Teach One: Teaching ‘St. Herbert.—A Tale’ in a Master’s Level Graduate Course on Nineteenth-Century American Literature”

Dr. Colin T. Ramsey Appalachian State University [Responses by Colin T. Ramsey, with Dana Dunmire, Matthew Staton, Kevin Pyon, Jessica White, Jenna Lewis, Miles Britton, Morgan Pruitt, and Jonathan Wells] Since I first read David Reynolds’ Beneath the American Renaissance in graduate school, I’ve been interested in the ways that canonized texts were often in dialog […]

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St. Herbert as an Introduction to Early U.S. Fiction

Laurel V. Hankins University of Massachusetts Dartmouth I incorporated St. Herbert into a 13-student senior seminar. The topic of the seminar was Early U.S. Gothic Fiction, 1780-1860. We spent our first class discussing excerpts from J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, but St. Herbert was the first text of the […]

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St. Hebert: Gothic, Sentiment, and American Loss

Melissa Adams-Campbell Northern Illinois University St. Hebert was one of the few fiction selections on my syllabus this semester and it worked well for introducing students to important conventions of 1790s fiction and the critical conversations about those conventions. I began our discussion by pointing out, alà Jane Tompkins, how early American fiction has long […]

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What We Can Learn from Old Books

Julie Voss Lenoir-Rhyne University I included St. Herbert in an undergraduate course entitled “Early American Literature,” which spans from the Colonial period to 1820 (though, in this semester, we didn’t read anything later than 1800).  We read St. Herbert at the end of the semester, after a sampling of Colonial and Early National texts and, […]

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Into the Woods

Maria A. Windell University of Colorado, Boulder The call for this edition of the “Just Teach One” series went out as I was finalizing an “American Novel” syllabus, which was set to open with Charlotte Temple, Wieland, and The Last of the Mohicans. There was nothing too shocking in this framing, which would ask students […]

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