If I’m going to give a lecture, I have to have something to say. I learned a lot about the development of the novel and 18th century travelogues last year while researching Gulliver’s Travels. This year I’m going to have to give many lectures on personalities in American literature. It means I have to learn something.
One of the things I like to do is learn. Over the last few years I have been sick and/or busy and haven’t done a lot of learning until this last year, when I had to do a lot of research to write my novel. Now, though, I am having to go back and learn a lot about the personalities and experiences of early American literature authors.
I thought at first that I could simply use the teacher’s notes in the book to give my lectures. But in that case they’d be about two minutes long. I really want a bit more information than that. I have five pages on Mary Rowlandson, the author of the first captivity narrative published as a complete work. I learned a lot about her, the times, and the literary precursors to the captivity novel. (Remember those “I was kidnapped by aliens” books? Those are modern captivity narratives.)
That same day we are also covering Samuel Sewall. I have four pages on his life. Since he was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials, I wanted some good background on that. Found a wonderful essay by Tim Sutter. The only problem is it’s 8 pages long, printed out, and I don’t think I have that much time to introduce the topic. I guess I just have to hope they know about the trials. (Good luck on them remembering, even if they know.)