Communication and Culture | Communication, Culture, and Social Formations (Topic: American Captivity Narratives)
C314 | 28829 | Lepselter, S.

TuTh, 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, C2 203

Fulfills College S&H Requirement
Carries College Intensive Writing Credit
A portion of this class reserved for majors

Instructor: Susan Lepselter
Office: C2 233
Phone: 856-3878

For centuries, Americans have been telling stories about their
experiences in captivity.  In these narratives, forced contact with
an other becomes the basis for defining and questioning the self.
The first best-seller in America told the adventurous ordeal of a
Colonial woman captured by Native Americans; 300 years later,
fabulous stories of UFO abduction arose in popular culture. What can
we learn about America by looking at the evolution of captivity
narratives over time?  How has American identity been shaped and
challenged through imagining the capturing other?  This class
explores a wide range of captivity narratives, from the historical
to the fantastic.  Along with Indian captivity and UFO abduction,
our study will include fiction and non-fiction accounts of
containment and redemption, including texts about slavery, prison,
Satanic possession, mental hospitals, kidnappings during the Iraqi
war, stories of children secluded from society, and the desires for
containment and release in the making of nuclear weapons.

This class is interdisciplinary in scope. We will use literature,
film, anthropology and psychology to study both scholarly and
popular understandings of captivity and freedom. Our focus will
include the following themes: colonization and the land, the body
and technological development, religious questing, and discourses of
gender, race and class.  Through lecture, students will be
introduced to some social theories of containment in culture and
language. In addition, we will substantively explore the boundaries
between memory and fantasy. Therefore, this class will also
introduce students to current theories of traumatized memory and the
debates over false and repressed memories in America.