February 1, 2018
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This paragraph was interesting to me because it seems as though they were blaming Benjamin Abbot’s illnesses on Carrier, saying that he got better the longer she was away from him. However, what most likely happened in reality was that his wounds were healing because they had been healing for some time now. Even though Carrier threatened him at one point saying, “that he should repent of it afore seven Years came to an End, so as Doctor Prescot should never cure him,” she had no way to actually follow through with this. From the descriptions of the “swelling in his foot,” “a pain in his side,” a “sore bred in the groin,” and another sore in the groin, it seems as though Benjamin Abbot was just very prone to infections and cysts and wasn’t actually being cursed by Carrier. Besides, even if she had cursed him, the curse would have lasted beyond her capture by the Constable.
It is and interesting paragraph definitely goes back to the idea that all these trials were false and the victims suffered from common issues. Those being accused had to prove they weren’t witches through nearly impossible tests. Did seem a bit absurd to claim someone was cursing you and you begin to feel better the longer he was away from him.
I agree. The statement that Mather makes earlier in the text sticks out even more after reading this passage. He said, “and I report matters not as an advocate, but as an historian” (NAAL 394). Reading these accusations against Martha
Reading these accusations against Martha after Mather referring to himself as a historian only makes it sound more accusatory. The symptoms Abbot experiences could have been from anything; that is also true in the remainder of this piece. It is interesting to think that in this time, rationality was based on superstition.
Cotton Mathers elaborates on how the new world is falling away from God and religious values that were held in high regard by those who first came to the new world. He recalls the Salem Witch Trials, “Trials which have passed upon some of the Malefactors lately Executed at Salem, for the Witchcrafts whereof they stood convicted”. Yet, he maintains his religious beliefs by saying that he is mourning for them and he is hoping the Lord will comfort them. He continues by referring to the bible, “You are to take the Truth, just as it was; and the Truth will hurt no good Man”. Meaning, Men should turn back to the bible and God and if they are a good man, then following the bible will not harm but help them.
I agree with each of the points you made. Elaborating on your statement about the Salem Witch Trials, Mather brings absolute sovereignty into discussion. By stating that he hopes the Lord will comfort them shows that they were supposed to die, and God has his hand in everything. It expresses that he truly believes in providence. We can also see cohesiveness in this passage. Stating, “You are to take the Truth”, and then follow the truth is showing the cohesiveness of God’s plan. It can only work if you trust the process. Following the ways of the Lord will deliver them out of the world and up to God.
You both made wonderful points! I thought that this paragraph was particularly interesting for both of the reasons you guys said. I thought it was interesting how almost all, if not all, of our readings up to this point have religion involved in some way. Religion was central to colonial lives. I think it’s interesting that this reading is the first one that strays away from God and instead focuses on something they believe that Satan has a hand in–witchcraft. Despite all the darkness and believed evil in this article, Cotton Mather still finds ways to bring it back to God. He states regarding those accused of witchcraft, “The Lord Comfort them!” I find it interesting that surrounded by “evil”, Mather refers back to his faith in God. As Elizabeth pointed out, man is beginning to stray from God and become tempted by Satan and witchcraft. Having minimal knowledge on the Salem Witch Trails, most of what I know is that those accused were often put to death. I wonder if Christians like Mather ever considered that these people deserved an opportunity to be saved by God and His Grace, or if they believed that because these people had strayed from Him, their punishment must be death.
Nice points by all. The year of composition for this piece was 1693–less than a decade away from a new century–and only a few years after the publications of Isaac Newton and John Locke that are discussed in our text in the period discussion following the section on Mather (p. 427). What we’re seeing in Mather’s text is an alarm about encroaching scientific views that were throwing doubt upon how the Puritans viewed the world and humanity, and a re-assertion of Millenialism, the idea that the second coming is at hand and that a 1,000 years of bliss (what Mather refers to as “halcyon days” towards the top of p. 393) would follow. The elemental conflict between good and evil he describes in this piece was believed to be at hand, concentrating the militaristic spiritual stance we’ve seen assumed by Puritan writers in earlier texts.
I think that it’s important to bring up Mathers’ use of the Devil in these beginning passages. Hardship was often attributed to the Devil trying to challenge God’s providence. By chalking up the Trials as the attempt of the Devil to defeat God and his followers, Mathers appeals heavily to his audience at the time, and potentially changes the mind of anyone who might have been against the Trials by appealing to their religion and the reminder that they (the Puritans) were guided or protected by God’s providence.
I agree that it is important to bring up his use of the Devil. I think you’re right to say that hardship was attributed to the Devil. I agree that he appeals to his audience in a huge way here. The simple fact that these people believed so whole heartedly that the Devil was the source of their hardship, is what probably made this passage so persuasive to his audience at the time.
This paragraph marks the beginning of the trial for Martha Carrier, one of the many that were accused of witchery in Salem, Massachusetts. She was accused of bewitching certain persons but then many came forward to say that she had committed witchcraft upon them. If first off it states that only the certain people where bewitched then why did so many come forward when she was taken to court? It is moving that the carrier was to let her live longer because if the majority of the town would have ruled, Martha would have been dead upon her trial. The people were scared, but if my memory of the salem witch trials serves correctly, they basically lynched anyone who was slightly different without the accusations of witchery.
I believe you’re correct. If I’m not mistaken during the witch trials many were said to be guilty without any real evidence. They were just the people that were different. If I remember correctly it was more hearsay. Where if you’re blamed it’s your word against the accuser, and more often than not the accuser was believed. Many people that weren’t directly involved feared the witch trials because if they did anything someone involved saw as a witch act, then they could be killed. People would go missing during the trials and their families would find out later they were in jail and awaiting an unfair trial. I believe so many came forward because they were scared themselves, and it was better to accuse another than to be accused yourself.
In this piece we see a possible scheme by some members of the community against specific persons that was perhaps driven by personal or monetary motives. Up until this point our readings have shown how Puritans used their faith and scripture to hold themselves or their congregation together. However, we have also seen it employed to manipulate perceptions, both toward other people of English descent and also more uniformly against the indigenous people of the region. In this paragraph it is highlighted how the accusers employ the Puritan fear of declension to agitate the religious population and achieve their ends. This concern is heard in sentences like, “it is a thing prodigious, beyond the Wonders of the Former Ages, and it threatens no less than a sort of a Dissolution upon the World”. Here the author takes steps to state and reinforce this collective fear, as well as to establish the idea of this declension spreading to encompass not only the colonies but the entire world.
I agree that the community was against a specific person (Martha Carrier). Reading through several of the paragraphs about the accusers made it seem like after the first accusation people just wanted to judge someone. I believe in someway Carrier rejected the “bewitched” men and they wanted to get back at her. I also gather from the reading that people jumped on the bandwagon to accuse the woman of witchcraft, why would someone wait two years to bring something up if not for that reason? The other wives and women, I think, went along with the accusation because they didn’t want to believe their husbands or someone close to them was faltering from their faith.
Mather was confident that witchcraft was the tool Satan used to interrupt and destroy God’s plan for the elect. I find interesting that Mather had no problem believing the predictions of a man accused of witchcraft. He states, “We have been advised by some credible Christians yet alive, that a malefactor, accused of witchcraft as well as a murder, and executed in this place more than forty years ago, did then give notice of an horrible plot against the country by witchcraft, and a foundation of witchcraft then laid, which if it were not seasonably discovered, would probably blow up, and pull down all the churches in the country” (393). Mather believed the predictions of this man as real, which indicates somehow that the witchcraft accusations were founded solely on folktale and superstition.
Reading about the great deal of “Wickedness” that no doubt Mather strongly believed in takes the reader back to the days of medieval England, when the same type of religious persecution and “witch hunting” was prevalent. Wanting the America’s to be a place of good people, of godly people, and without blot of sin, was of course a top priority. This time period is of great interest to me because we so often read about the witchcraft accusations in England but not as much in American where it also was a huge issue. It is peculiar how or what exactly these people actually did or performed to be considered to be a witch or satanic. Perhaps using astrology, perhaps just questioning the beliefs of the Bible, anything could have incited this supposed “knot of Witches” in the country. However, there could be nothing worse for the puritan society than the idea of witchcraft. The fear that the witches instilled was very real and very frightening indeed, and the strong language shows both the fear and disgust at the practices.
I agree that it is interesting to read this with the understanding that Mather believed these things. His use of language magnifies just how serious he feels about the “wicked witch craft”. I also find it interesting that the witch hunting that occurred in America was just as big a deal as what was going on it England, but we don’t hear as much about the American happenings. This passage was also interesting to me because we see a bit of a change of events in the Puritan religion. In this part of the reading we can see that some of the actions that puritans carry out are absolutely for self gain, when they profess to only live to please God. This part of the reading highlighted the hypocrisy going on behind the scenes.
A lot of the witch trials was mass hysteria. You have a large group of ultra religious people and then there is speculation that the devil is among them and being worshipped through witchcraft. I think one of the main people accused was a slave and then it just escalated from there. If someone disliked you enough they could act like they were enchanted by you and you were next on the chopping block, so I agree that if anyone was different then they were the next accused
This passage marks a definite shift in the idea that God strikes with suddenness and one must accept and move on. Now sudden and inexplicable deaths are attributed to Satan’s influence. It is especially more pronounced because the accuser seems to be testifying more out of spite due to a previous disagreement than a true belief that the devil really has taken over Carrier. We continue to see all manner of horrors being pronounced as the work of the devil but we also are led to belief that miraculous healings are the result of identifying and testifying against someone thought to be influenced by the devil rather than by personal reflection and confession to God. This is evidence of declension as it’s been discussed in lecture.
I found this paragraph to be extremely interesting and indeed rather terrifying as I read through the details of Carrier’s trial and the witness statements made. As the trial progresses, we see it spiral further and further into a veritable Charybdis of hysteria and terror generated by so-called ‘witchcraft’ in their midst, growing to a climactic peak where a woman could be arrested as a witch, tried, and executed because her neighbor’s cows died. These are absolutely odd and probably devastating events to the farmers in these communities, but immediately attributing them as devices of demonic force and punishing hundreds of women under a loose and ill-defined term such as ‘witchcraft’ is inherently wrong. The emotional appeals and lack of empirical evidence to prove that these odd, yet natural events were actually supernatural does irreparable damage to the validity of this trial and the arguments and reasons therein.
During a time of expansive change in The New World, a work like Cotton Mather’s could give reason to otherwise unreasonable series of unfortunate events. As Mather’s gathered, witnesses proclaimed that the strange behaviors and deaths of their cattle could be attributed to their supposedly bizarre encounters with Martha Carrier. One person even said that she heard Carrier speak to her while she was in her fields, that the voice was “over her head”, certainly an unlikely occurrence. Additionally, ailments are attributed to interactions with Carrier, making her a convenient scapegoat during a time when medicine had not yet developed cures for most illnesses. Perhaps, Carrier is an example of how witchcraft could be used as an explanation of what Mather’s sees as an apocalyptic time, but the apocalypse is not the epidemic of the devil in the shape of people, but economic and natural issues in New England.
In this paragraph of Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders of the Invisible World” there is reference to the “shapes” that the Puritans believed were representations of Satan. The individual, Allin Toothaker, testifying against the “witch” says “he saw the shape of Martha Carrier, go off his breast” (395). It sounds as though he is making an excuse for embarrassing himself by blaming his errors on the mother of the boy he was fighting with; she may or may not have been present, he seems to be seeing a ghost-like version of her that he believed was holding him down. This testimony has no real evidence, he is basically claiming to see spirits or ghosts, something that would not hold up in a court today, but it represents just how much these individuals believed in magic and witches. What he is proposing is impossible but the Salem witch trials was filled with such corruption and superstition that people were actually led to believe in improbable events such as this.
I think this paragraph shows a lot about the mindset that Cotton Mather, and the rest of this community, found themselves in. Although the trials later in this text show a lot about the logic that was used during this time I think the opening is the most “new” to many of us who haven’t read this before. There are many books written about this time period, but many of them don’t explain the terrible mindset that is responsible for the actions in those books. I think this paragraph’s mentions of the Devil versus the People of God is proof of this. The end of this paragraph and the opening few sentences of the next paragraph show this sort of ideology that the Devil is making his “attempt”. I find this reasoning to be harmful to both the “witches” in question as well as the greater community due to the lack of logic being demonstrated at this time. In one of my other classes we are studying John Milton’s argumentative works, which were written in the 1640’s. This work was written much later, and I wonder if things like this are just part of the stupidity of human nature considering events that happened much later than both of these.
I agree with your statement, the bases off which they can accuse someone of witchcraft is very outrageous. Just because something slightly unusual happens, they can link it to magic and say this is happening not because of natural forces but man made forces. I am curious about the number of women they killed trying to eliminate the witches and I am also curious about how they decided that there were no longer anymore witches and that the things happening around them were just coincidental.
I found this passage to be a little bit funny. I completely agree that superstition basically trumped reason and logic in this time period. His aliments could have been caused by any number of things however he blames it on the curse by Carrier. IT seems a little ridiculous to me but those were the times and what was believed. Rather than seeking medical care Abbot just assumed he was cursed as opposed to just being ill. It is my understanding of curses that the curse doesn’t have to be near by or living for the curse to remain and that the curse should have stayed with him despite Carrier being taken away by the Constable.
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February 21, 2018 at 11:14 pm
See in context
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April 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm
In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”. Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters.
Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.
April 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.
April 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm
In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.
Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.
April 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.
April 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm
In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.
Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.
April 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm
In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson, they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.
Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.
April 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm
I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.
April 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.
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Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118.
April 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19). His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”. As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers.
Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.
April 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm
According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.
Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.
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