Chapter 2: Early American Literature 1700-1800

Sarah Kemble Knight

Paul P. Reuben
  October 15, 2016

Outside Link: |
Heath Anthology Introduction |

Page Links: | Primary Work | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present | Comments on The Journal | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Chap 2 - Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page |

Primary Work

The Journals of Madam Knight, and Rev. Mr. Buckingham, from the original Manuscripts, written in 1704 and 1710, 1825 (edited by Theodore Dwight)

The Journal of Madam Knight. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Literature House,1970. F7 .K724

Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Derounian-Stodola, Kathryn Z. ed. Early American Literature and Culture: Essays Honoring Harrison T. Meserole. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1992.

Duke, Maurice, and others. eds. American Women Writers: Bibliographical Essays. Westport: Greenwood, 1983.

Elliott, Emory. ed. American Colonial Writers 1606-1734. Detroit: Gale, 1984.

Laffrado, Laura. Uncommon Women: Gender and Representation in Nineteenth-Century U. S. Women's Writing. Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP; 2009.

Mulford, Carla, and others. eds. American Women Prose Writers to 1820. Detroit: Gale, 1999.

Comments on The Journal

According to Robert O Stephens ("The Odyssey of Sarah Kemble Knight." College Language Association Journal 7 (Mar 1964): 247-55), Knight's account, since its first publication in 1825, has been presented as a literary diary of her 1704-1705 trip from Boston to New York rather than as an imaginative woman's odyssey through a wilderness both mythical and actual. Stephens says that the Journal has been characterized in one of three ways:

1. As a refreshingly carnal, external and healthy picture of rural manners - a kind of proto-local colorism.

2. As a cryptic rebellion against Puritan gloom and soberness.

3. Or as an unfortunate lapse in both taste and accuracy of observation.

Stephens concludes: "The Journal affords an expression of the reflective woman's grasp of the wilderness as both world and underworld, local and universal, laughable and terrible. It shows that there is something both alluring and deadly in that external wilderness that mirrors the inner life, something guilty and self-destructive about the underworld mind now understood mythically by depth psychologists. This insight into the perplexities that neither a serenely dogmatic nor serenely reasonable mind perceives is what most clearly links the mind of SKK with the tradition of Hawthorne."

Study Questions

1. Look at Knight as heroine/protagonist of her story/journal.

2. Look carefully at how the wilderness is presented.

3. Look at exactly what she chooses to record in this journal.

4. Notice the lack of religious themes.

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 2: Sarah Kemble Knight." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: (provide page date or date of your login).

| Top |