Let’s Use PBS Documentary to Guide Colonial Literature

PBS Frontline’s God in America helps us appreciate the Puritan way of life exhibited in Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing and will help us get ready to read John Winthrop’s sermon “A Model of Christian Charity.” Let’s have you just view segments of this for homework. Then we will ask you to compose a response in a Word document and paste it in the comment box under this blog post. God in America is a great resource for teachers and students about the spiritual life of Puritans, the Puritan Doctrine, John Winthrop, and Anne Hutchinson. Please view minute 12-33 of this documentary. It dramatically shows how Anne Hutchinson sets the stage for colonial Americans to “recreate” their idea of religion here and how one’s “consciousness” can speak out against the state. It was fun the other day in class when we discussed Geraldine Brooks’ comparison of John Winthrop to the Taliban. You all perked up and made more connections to the tension  in both the novel, Caleb’s Crossing as well as the historical record of John Winthrop. Again, here’s that link if you want to review that interview.

Directions for homework: View the specific twenty minutes of the movie outlined above (you can view more if you have your other homework completed). Then isolate one moment in the documentary that you think will help you appreciate future intellectual or cultural trends in studying the next three centuries of American literature. One example of this assignment may be a reflection of how Anne Hutchinson inspires other brave thinkers in American history to speak their “consciousness” against the state. Can you think of a specific example? Likewise, does any moment in the documentary answer this question for you: Why have people come to America? (This will be a fun question for us throughout the year when we also reflect on why do people to come to America today?) If you do find an answer to that from the documentary, feel free to explain that moment as your response. Another way to consider this documentary is to reflect on Anne Hutchinson’s position as a woman. One question we will be asking all year is how does gender, race, and class function in American culture? And how do those who are discriminated by gender, race, and/or class seek education and power? Does a moment in the documentary provide you a response to these questions? Comment on one of these topics. Make your response 4-7 sentences. Whatever you decide to comment upon, please be sure that you use Standard English and revise your prose in a Word Document. Try reading your phrase out loud to create more fluency with your response. Have fun!

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I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
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12 Responses to Let’s Use PBS Documentary to Guide Colonial Literature

  1. Aashi Patel says:

    The moment I enjoyed was the fact that Anne Hutchinson was inspiring others to speak their “consciousness” against the state. It is moving to see men and women in our history standing up for what they believe in and sharing their stories to inspire others. Even without doing anything wrong or going against the law, Anne got a rise out of John Winthrop. Also, she attracted powerful political figures. This goes to show just how powerful she really was. I am looking forward to learning about more strong, independent, and inspiring people like Anne.

  2. Lawrence Li says:

    John Winthrop is a displacement of the governors and absolute authority of colonies back to 1600s. It is surprising to me that when Winthrop failed to get the heart of people and decided to use his authority to banish Mrs. Hutchinson from the country. It is not easy for Mr. Winthrop to keep his colony peacefully growth under the words of God. But using authority to punish threaten people in the society can anger more people. In Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, the main reason that Bethia’s grandfather chooses to leave the mainland and come to the island is to avoid the authorities from the government and rebuild puritan in the way they what it to be. The video also mentions the unfair trial that Mrs. Hutchinson got from John Winthrop. Compares to the character Anne in the book, it reveals the similar experience bases on the historical event. After Anne miscarries in the book, Bethia is confident that the governor is the offender behind. But no one dares to challenge and put charge against authority, instead, all criticisms lay on Indian students Caleb, Joel and Anne herself. They all under the supervised of the governor which causes them to leave the colony. However, their words were strong enough to attract others and prevailed.

  3. Courtney Marshall says:

    Anne Hutchinson is a very inspiring woman and leader who was not afraid to speak her mind. She openly spoke about her messages from God and her different interpretations of the Bible and was determined not to conform. Her bravery influenced other people join her and to have the courage to speak their “consciousness” against the state. She stuck to her beliefs even when Winthrop banished her for not being a “a woman fit for their society.” Her powerful determination is inspiring for others because she never backed down from the authority.

  4. paitynb1718 says:

    Anne Hutchinson was a very inspiring person and helped others speak their “consciousness” against the state. Because these men and women are Puritans, they are under the belief that they will not go to heaven unless God speaks to them directly. Hutchinson tells others that He had spoken to her and said that she was among those who are saved and so the Puritans wanted to hear more about what God had to say. Hutchinson was not intimidated by her threats when Winthrop brought her to trial and she then gains powerful allies on the stand. For Hutchinson to allow people to identify themselves as a member of the elect, she gives them the opportunity to speak their mind against the state.

  5. garett ersoff says:

    It is very inspiring as religious leader like Anne Hutchinson to stick up for females during this time period. She attracted many people by encouraging them to come and speak about their own views. When John Winthrop was elected governor, she lost a lot of her advocates, but it didnít stop her from voicing her beliefs to the people that kept supporting her. However, with many of her followers by her side, Anne established an agreement in Rhode island. It is very important to recognize the power that Anne had during this time period especially with the fact that women were not encouraged to exercise the same strengths as a man. As a result, this topic is very interesting to learn about.

  6. Tim says:

    It is very apparent that that the puritans came to America because they wanted to escape the informalities of the European church. It was their goal to reform and remake the church to strictly follow the rules of God. They wanted to “purify” it. They believed to do so they had to basically start over and create a new civilization in the world

  7. Charlie Park says:

    The part that I really had my mind caught was how the society in that times did not allow or led any right to women. It was very fresh on how Anne Hutchinson stood up and tried to bring up female rights in a time when she was just not right cause she was just a woman. Also, it was funny that how paradoxical how even if they were the same Puritans that the god talks to, why would the god be splitting up rights and divide people into genders under the same religion. Furthermore, if they truly believed in God, gender should not matter nor the god would have wanted religion spreading in the wrong way instead of Anne’s way.

  8. Speaking her mind freely, Anne Hutchinson was the first of her time to influence others to voice their “consciousness” against the state after her heated exchange with John Winthrop. Having God apparently speak to her directly, Hutchinson began to interpret the Bible as what she thought was proper. She refused to conform to other beliefs, reflecting her great independent and persistence that would later be recognized by others. Just as the Puritans wanted to reconstruct the Church in order to strictly abide by the rules of God, Anne sought to reconstruct what the Puritans had thought was the proper way of interpreting the Bible and God.

  9. Jason Choi says:

    It is bewildering that Governor John Winthrop banishes Anne Hutchinson from the Puritan community. All Puritans left the Great Britain and came to the land of America in order to have religious and social freedom. However, a governor John Winthrop, a leader of the community, decides to ban Anne Hutchinson who definitely contributed positive aspects in their religious and social community. I personally believe that John Winthrop abused his power to satisfy his own position and greed. In addition to that, this incident clearly shows the gender discrimination in that time period when men believed that they are more superior than the women. Anne Hutchinson demonstrates the natural rights that human-being deserves no matter of what race, gender, or social status he or she is. As Caleb’s Crossing teaches us the importance of respect for the others, the incident with Anne Hutchinson informs us the same lesson. Furthermore, if John Winthrop was waiting for an answer from the God to figure out how to make his society better, he should have listened to Anne Hutchinson opening up the possibility that the God was talking indirectly toward him.

  10. Mitch Powers says:

    Puritans wanted religious and social freedom. As a result, all Puritans left Great Britain and moved to America. Anne Hutchison who contributed positive aspects in the social community was unfortunately banned by John Winthrop.

  11. Melvin Ku says:

    The moment I enjoyed was the moment when the judge said: “As a woman not fit for our society.” This is an obvious cultural trend of sexism happened back in the days in the United States. In the study of the next three centuries of American literature, racism and sexism were involved heavily during the period of time. People like Anne Hutchinson, came to America to spread their religion.

  12. I believe that Anne Hutchinson was a very inspiring women as she was able to convey the message that shaped religion in America, without breaking any laws or using any form of violence. Although Anne Hutchinson was charged for sedition, she was not intimated like John Winthrop expected her to be and fought for her own rights. Even after she was banished the message that she fought for the message that “religious consciousness speaks out against the state” lived on which clearly showed the impact she made on the lives of many.

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