Amelia and Charlotte in the Liberal Arts Classroom

Toni Wall Jaudon
Hendrix College 

If, before class, you had asked many of the students in my senior seminar what they thought of Amelia, or the Faithless Briton, they would have likely told you that the best thing about Amelia was that it wasn’t Charlotte Temple. Amelia followed Charlotte on the syllabus, and my students’ responses to it had everything to do with their struggles to read Rowson’s novel. For these students, Charlotte was neither a novel they wanted nor one they knew how to study. It offered, in their assessment, a female protagonist unfit for sympathetic identification and a narrative devoid of craft, and it failed to yield complexity, ambiguity, and meaning when placed under the microscope of their close readings. Amelia, at least, had the virtue of an assertive female protagonist, even if it, like Charlotte, felt unreadable to them.
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