Just Teach One

The Story of Constantius and Pulchera (1789)

Constantius and Pulchera

Frontispiece to The History of Constantius and Pulchera, or Constancy rewarded. New York: John Tiebout, 1801.


Our second text, the anonymous Story of Constantius and Pulchera, appeared serially in 1789-90 in a short-lived Boston periodical.  Its transatlantic adventure story and active heroine–facing angry father and oppressive suitor, cannibalism and naval battles, storms, prison, and a bear–proved so popular that it was reprinted at least fifteen times into the early nineteenth century.  A pastiche of popular eighteenth-century genres, the surprisingly intricate novella underscores the instability of mobility, contractual relations, and self-fashioning in the revolutionary Atlantic.


History of Constantius and Pulchera

And following are some responses written by teachers who have included this text in a recent syllabus.  To read the essays in their entirety, click on the “more” link at the end of each excerpt.

C & P in the Atlantic World

Hester Blum Penn State University I taught The History of Constantius and Pulchera to twenty-four students in an upper-level undergraduate course on the American Novel to 1900 this spring. The class is one I teach frequently, and I vacillate between approaches: should a student taking such a class expect it to cover the canonical heavyweights […]

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From Philadelphia to Arden and Back: Reading Shakespeare in The Story of Constantius and Pulchera

Sari Altschuler University of South Florida Though set in “the suburbs of the city of Philadelphia,” Constantius and Pulchera opens with our heroine, “on the terrace of an high building, forty feet from the ground…a most beautiful Lady of age sixteen…clad in a long white vest her hair of a beautiful chesnut colour hanging carelessly […]

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C & P and Transatlantic Feminism

Caroline Wigginton Rutgers  University I’ll confess up front that I volunteered for this semester’s Just Teach One as I liked the idea of a shared pedagogical experiment. I had never heard of the selection, The Story of Constantius and Pulchera, though such distinctively named titular characters boded well for an interesting and odd read if […]

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C & P in the Survey

Miles Grier Queens College I am grateful for being included in this ongoing experiment, particularly as one of the first cohort to teach The History of Constantius and Pulchera. Duncan Faherty enticed me by appealing to my research interest in early American Shakespeare adaptations, but I found that the prior readings on my syllabus produced […]

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Educating Pulchera

Desirée Henderson University of Texas Arlington I taught The Story of Constantius and Pulchera in an undergraduate course that surveyed the representation of female education from the 1790s to the present. I originally intended to pair Foster’s The Boarding School and The Coquette, particularly as The Boarding School is now available to us in (astonishingly) […]

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Closing with Constantius: Teaching Utopia in the Atlantic World

 Len von Morze University of Massachusetts Boston I chose Constantius and Pulchera as the last text in a seminar for M.A. students in English at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Since the experience of teaching any given text in a grad-seminar discussion will be different from the expectations the instructor has set for it, I’ll […]

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Pig! Pig! Pig!

Michael Drexler Bucknell University My class, an upper-level undergraduate and master’s seminar, read Constantius & Pulchera in the second week of the semester. In the course, entitled US: Fever Fantasy Desire, we had already read a Charles Brockden Brown story, which I affectionately call “Pig! Pig! Pig!,” but more properly is Letter IX from Series […]

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Capping the Atlantic Survey

The History Constantius and Pulchera Blog entry   Cristobal Silva Columbia University I felt a bit apprehensive when I agreed to schedule one full day of my early American literature survey to this project, but the text and discussion it produced turned out to fit beautifully with the broader aims of the course.  It’s a […]

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Piracy, Politics, Power: Teaching Constantius and Pulcher

James D. Lilley University at Albany, SUNY If we were not all creatures of the digital age, the syllabus for my undergraduate course on “Transatlantic Romance” would be written on a sheet of jaundiced A4.  Like the promise of distant runway lights underlighting English clouds, its scribbles, scratches, and stains would only emphasize the fogged […]

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Pleasures of Plot

Martha Rojas University of Rhode Island This semester I included The History of Constantius & Pulchera in my undergraduate survey course of colonial and U.S. literature to 1855 where it proved to be a mid-semester sensation. The course is required of students double majoring in English and Secondary Education. It also meets General Education requirements […]

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