Chapter 2: Early American Literature 1700-1800

Samson Occom

Paul P. Reuben
  October 15, 2016

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Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 1980-Present |
Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

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

(Source: "O Turn Ye, For Why Will Ye Die")

His Achievement

One of the earliest autobiographical narratives written by an American Indian, A Short Narrative rejects the reports that Occum was a Mohawk; it also explains his conversion to Christianity. His other writings deal with his teaching methods and of conducting church services.

Primary Works

A Short Narrative of My Life, 1768; A Sermon Preached by Samson Occum, 1772; Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1774.

Selected Bibliography 1980-Present

Brooks, Lisa. The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008.

Elrod, Eileen R. Piety and Dissent: Race, Gender, and Biblical Rhetoric in Early American Autobiography. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2008.

Peyer, Bernd C. The Tutor'd Mind: Indian Missionary-Writers in Antebellum America. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1997.

Weyler, Karen A. Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2013.

Wisecup, Kelly. Medical Encounters: Knowledge and Identity in Early American Literatures. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2013.

Study Questions

1. Compare and contrast the rhetorical devices in Occom's "Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul" with Jonathan Edwards's Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

2. Trace and analyze Occom's references to American Indians. How does he represent them? How does he suggest whites have represented native peoples? Find subtle evidence to support the interpretation that Occom believes Euro-Americans have misrepresented American Indians.

3. Discuss Occom's use of distinct rhetorical strategies to appeal to the various groups in his audience and to Moses Paul; and the extent to which Occom follows the standard structure and basic content for such sermons.

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

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

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