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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 8: The Genre of Captivity Literature

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

What are the stories of the early settlement?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

Captivity literature as a genre underscores the power of "story." Such stories personalize the events for the reader. Each story contains many of the same elements. Despite the fact that overtime these stories may have been changed to serve differing political motives, they provide a popular view of the events of the time.

Teacher Background Essay: Captivity Literature

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • that the past has a significant influence on present day lives and society.
  • that it is valuable to study the lives, actions, ideas, political experiences, and judgments of people in the past.
  • that it is important NOT to judge people in the past by today's notions and beliefs.

Students will be able to:

  • make reference to previously presented material.
  • utilize technology to research information and present projects.
  • compare and contrast events in Deerfield with world and national events.

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In Preparation for Teaching

Read the Teacher Background Essay: Captivity Literature

Further Background Reading:
Demos, John. The Unredeemed Captive. New York: Knopf. 1994.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. From Memorial Hall Website: "People and Places" entry about "Eunice Williams"

2. From Memorial Hall Website, "The Turns of the Centuries Exhibit" : "Native Americans 1680-1720": "Two Worlds: Bridging Cultures"


1. Computer access to locate further related websites on the captivity literature genre.

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

1. Instruct students to listen to and take notes on a short talk about the genre of captivity literature.

2. Based on the artwork developed as an assignment, ask students to post their work. Ask students to respond to the artwork, identifying the situations in Stephen's life from the Stephen Williams account that are being portrayed. What does this story add to our understanding of the captivity event?

3. Visit the Memorial Hall website to find information on the "unredeemed captive" Eunice Williams, Stephen's younger sister.

4. Ask students to think about what happened to Eunice, Stephen's little sister (write a synopsis from the web research) and jot down privately reasons why did they think she not return?

5. As a class, discuss the following ideas. Is the authorship of a captivity story always known? What may be some of the motivations for telling the such stories? What effect could time have on the stories? Do we tell such stories today? Can you provide an example?

Assignment: Ask students to find another captivity literature story on a website, print it out, and identify the commonalties (plot, characters, setting) with the Williams’ stories. Answer the following questions about the article: Who are the main characters? Describe the setting. Briefly describe the plot. Why, in your opinion, has the story become part of the cannon of captivity literature?



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The writing exercise completed as a homework assignment.

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