Historical Writing Project

Writing Assingment

Argumentative Paper

History 3347/GWSS 3407

Take-Home Essay Question #1


Mary Rowlandson's The Soveraignty and Goodness of God is an English Puritan woman's retrospective account of her captivity among Indians during Metacom's War (or King Philip's War, as the English called it) in southeastern New England . Mary White Rowlandson was born about 1637 in England to a middle-class Puritan family who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1639. Mary married a well-established minister, Joseph Rowlandson, and moved with him to the Massachusetts frontier in the mid-1650s. Metacom's War erupted in 1675 as Indians, who had lived alongside the English colonists for decades, finally rebelled against European expansion and coercion. In February, 1676, a war party of allied Wampanoags, Narragansetts, and Nipmucs attacked the Rowlandson's settlement, Lancaster , Massachusetts . Rowlandson lived as a captive for three months among the Indians as they fought the English colonists. At war's end, Rowlandson was ransomed and reunited with her family.

Essay Question:

Rowlandson's narrative amply demonstrates her devout Puritan piety. Do you think that Rowlandson's gender identity affected her experience of captivity as well? Write a 3-5 page essay in which you discuss if, and if so, how gender shaped Mary Rowlandson's experience of captivity.


In your essay, you should consider the following questions: in what ways did Rowlandson's gender identity as a seventeenth-century English woman affect her capture and her experience of captivity? Was she treated differently by her Indian captors than the way they treated captive English men? Was there anything specific about her being female that affected her interaction with the Narragansett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc Indians – if so, what and how?

Your essay should be from three to five pages in length, with well organized prose. The essay should have an introductory paragraph, move on in the body of the essay to explain clearly the ways you see gender did and/or did not influence Rowlandson's experience, and finish with a concluding paragraph. Be strategic: support your general points with a few carefully selected examples, demonstrated by direct quotations from Rowlandson's narrative and supported with references to background material from other readings and/or from class lecture.

Be sure to include brief scholarly citations to all your sources in either footnotes or endnotes. For readings, list author's surname, abbreviated title, and page number. For example: Rowlandson narrative, p. 12 ; or Ulrich, “The Ways of Her Household,” p. 49 . If you draw on material from class lecture, include the date: Norling lecture, 20 Sept 2007.

Clarity in all communication IS important! Aim for coherence in your argument and prose, and try to avoid mistakes in grammar, syntax, and spelling. And, please, type your essay with one-inch margins all around, in 12-point font, and staple the pages together.

Assignment developed by Lisa Norling of the University of Minnesota