Sara Jeannette Duncan

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I need help writing a few discussion questions for a graduate class for the novel Set in Authority by Sara Jeanette Duncan.  Our focus this semester has been on empire and imperialism.  Can you give me any help?  I need several questions. Thank you.

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There are some really good options for using your rhetorical background to analyze Duncan. You might start by looking at some of the work on 19th century North American women's  rhetoric and see how it would apply to her persuasive strategies.

What was Duncan's education? What sort of writing pedagogy would have affected her development as a writer? Can you find Ciceronian structures in her work? Figures of speech? What about looking at some of the major 19th century textbooks (Whately, Campbell, Blair, Bain, and the elocutionists) and seeing if they can be used to analyze her work?

Also, consider how her religious background affected her work (was she Anglican/Old Compact or Presbyterian?)

As you are in the US, you might also look at how Canadian PoCo differs from the US version, and then talk about which theoretical model is more appropriate to a Canadian author.

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There are two types of question you might construct for a graduate class: ones based on historical background and ones based on theoretical approach.

For historical questions, you might consider asking about the relationship of Duncan's novels to individual journalistic pieces she was working on, and perhaps bring a few excerpts from her journalism of particular relevance as starting points for discussion.

The main theoretical emphasis of the course sounds post-colonial. You might ask about the way in which Duncan's attitudes towards the British empire (especially its Indian policies) influenced the way she thought about Canadian treatment of First Nations.

You could also ask how colonialism and gender are related within the novel -- are male and female characters equally complicit in colonialism or is that complicity gendered, with women subverting the colonial project?


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