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Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma

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Foundations of America


Assignment: Read carefully Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma by Camilla Townshend. Then choose one (1) of the follow essay options:

1.) We know almost nothing about Pocahontas through her own words, which has sharply limited our knowledge of how she felt about her experiences. Your task is to imagine what Pocahontas would have said about her experiences had she been literate. To that end, craft FIVE diary entries from 5 different chapters in the book (you MUST use chapters 1 and 8, but the remaining three are up to you). Your charge is not to summarize her experiences, but to convey how she might have responded to a particular set of circumstances or events. Each of the five passages must also contain an explanatory footnote that: a) cites the specific page(s) you are referencing from that chapter, and b) explain how you are interpreting her response and/or behavior. In other words, how do your rationalize or explain your hypothetical first-person diary entry based on the Camilla Townshend?s account in the book? So, your paper will consist of FIVE diary entries written by Pocahontas written in the first person ? up to one-page each in length ? along with five explanatory footnotes of how you used that particular source. Assessment of the exercise will be based on clarity and originality of each entry, how well the essay is written, and the choices you make about which experiences you reference and how well you translate your understanding of the historical text into your explanatory footnote.

2.) Camilla Townshend?s book on Pocahontas goes beyond mere biography. Grounding the book in the life and experiences of Pocahontas, Townshend sheds light on the larger issue of English contact with the Indians in and around Jamestown beginning in 1607. Indeed, the subtitle of the book is ?the Powhatan Dilemma.? Outline at least five examples of how Pocahantas?s life highlights larger issues of European contact with the indigenous peoples of eastern Virginia in the early 17th-century. In short, your task is to use Pocahontas to tease out the larger issues of this period in American history.

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