Just Teach One

Amelia in an honors section

John Funchion
University of Miami

I taught Amelia, or the Faithless Briton in an honors section of my introductory survey of early U.S. literature, which revolved around the legacy of the captivity narrative and discourses on feeling.  My students read this short novel after we had concluded our discussion of Charlotte Temple. Predictably, many of them initially did not care for Susana Rowson’s text. Raised on a literary diet that included martial female characters from Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series to Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games trilogy, they had little patience for fainting young women who fell victim to lecherous rakes. Their own tastes in reading, nevertheless, did not prevent them from engaging Rowson’s novel on its own terms. Even though they found her didactic voice generally off-putting, they recognized that Rowson’s commanding narrator anticipated their skepticism at every turn. And as we discussed the literary and cultural context of Charlotte Temple, they entertained—and many were even persuaded by—readings of it that asserted its capacity to generate a sympathetic community through the mourning of her death or its depiction of the perils associated with reproducing the English family in British North America.

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