Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Guide for your Studies

I've decided that I won't end this commentary on a one-liner having something to do with death. I figured I'd break the pattern.

You're welcome.

What follows is my attempt at a study guide aimed at teaching undergrads the material in my paper. Honestly, it's more of an outline for a lesson than a lesson itself, but I think it would help to get the message across.

NOTE: The pictures didn't format correctly. I'll either add them into this post later, or I'll just leave them out. The final version has pictures. Imagine lots of pretty pictures. Now throw in a leprechaun riding a unicorn. You're getting close.

Instructor: Will Wight
AML 3031

Anne Bradstreet: She Loved Her Husband

So what?

Well, Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was an early American poet.

She wrote in a Puritan community, where husbands and wives weren’t supposed to love each other TOO much. Apparently, there might not be enough love left for God.

We’re going to be examining the religious rhetoric that Bradstreet uses, and how that supports and/or challenges the traditional Puritan marriage notions of the day.

To do this, we’ll look at Puritan belief structures, how they were implemented, and how Bradstreet reacted to them.


1.) Individual Reading
Read five poems of your choice by Anne Bradstreet.

Write a one- or two-paragraph response to each poem, highlighting where you saw references to Christianity or marriage and how Bradstreet used those references.

At the end of the semester, you will write a 4-5 page double-spaced essay on the message you felt those poems conveyed when read as a whole.

2.) Background Research
Read Robert D. Richardson Jr.’s essay, “The Puritan poetry of Anne Bradstreet.” We will use this essay as part of our lesson on Puritanism.

Read selected passages from Wendy Martin’s “An American Triptych.” These passages will be provided to you, and they help us to get a sense of Bradstreet’s work beyond just what we examine in class.

Download Helen Stuart Campbell’s “Anne Bradstreet and Her Time.” We will not go over this information in class, but it will be helpful for you to understand the context in which Bradstreet was writing.

Read Proverbs 31 in the King James Version of the Bible. This is difficult to get through, but it will help you to understand all the things an ideal wife was expected to do.

Discussion Questions

1.) In the context of marriage, who was supposed to have the wife’s ultimate loyalty? How about the husband’s? How does that affect the relationship between the husband and the wife?

2.) How does the idea of a husband and a wife uniting and becoming “one flesh” show up in Bradstreet’s poetry?

3.) Did Bradstreet believe in God, or not? How did this belief or unbelief affect her attitudes toward her own marriage?

4.) What do you think was Bradstreet’s view of traditional Puritan marriage? What evidence do you have for that theory?

5.) In your mind, is Bradstreet reinforcing what everyone else believes, or challenging it? How does she do so?

Works Cited
(And some optional reading)

A.L. A Question Deeply Concerning Married Persons, and Such as Intend to Marry:     Propounded and Resolved According to the Scriptures. London:
    At the Anchor and Bible in Paul's Church-Yard, 1653. eBook.

Bradstreet, Anne. “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment.” Ann Woodlief, n.d. Web. 21 November 2011.

Bradstreet, Anne. “To My Dear and Loving Husband.” Ann Woodlief, n.d.     Web. 21 November 2011.

Campbell, Helen Stuart. “Anne Bradstreet and Her Time.” New York:
    Public Domain Books. 1890. eBook.

Martin, Wendy. An American Triptych. Raleigh, NC:
    The University of North Carolina Press, 1984. Print.

McGill, Kathy. “The Most Industrious Sex: John Lawson’s Carolina Women Domesticate     the Land.” North Carolina Historical Review. 88.3 (2011): 280-297. Web.
    23 Oct. 2011. <>.

Richardson Jr., Robert D. "The Puritan poetry of Anne Bradstreet."
    The American Puritan Imagination: Essays in revaluation. Ed. Sacvan Bercovitch.     London: Cambridge University Press, 1974. Print.

Scheik, William J. Design in Puritan American Literature. Lexington, KY:
    The University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Print.

“Historic Renaissance Gowns.” Scottish Wedding Dreams.
    Scottish Wedding Dreams, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1999.

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