Approaches to Teaching Behn's Oroonoko

PDF-file by Cynthia Richards

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Once merely a footnote in Restoration and eighteenth-century studies and rarely taught, Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave (1688), by Aphra Behn, is now essential reading for scholars and a classroom favorite. It appears in general surveys and in courses on early modern British writers, postcolonial literature, American literature, women's literature, drama, the slave narrative, and autobiography.

Part 1 of this volume, "Materials," provides not only resources for the teacher of Oroonoko but also a brief chronology of Behn's life and work. In part 2, "Approaches," essays offer a diversity of perspectives appropriate to a text that challenges student assumptions and contains not one story but many: Oroonoko as a romance, as a travel account, as a heroic tragedy, as a window to seventeenth-century representations of race, as a reflection of Tory-Whig conflict in the time of Charles II.

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