Susan Lepselter

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20062007 Forum on Travel

Susan Lepselter

Instructor, Social Anthropology, New York University

University of Texas at Austin

The Abduction of Memory: American Stories of Captivity, Travel, and Conversion

From the Bay Colonies’ first best seller about the Indian abduction of Mary Rowlandson to contemporary “alien abductee” websites, captivity narratives have for centuries revealed the ambivalence in American ideologies of mobility, expansion, and settlement. Developing a chapter from her dissertation (“The Flight of the Ordinary: Narrative, Poetics, Power and UFOs in the American Uncanny”) Prof. Lepselter will for this book project use ethnographic fieldwork and text-based research to comparatively interpret captivity and travel narratives in America as they change over centuries. Focusing primarily on Indian captivity narratives and UFO abduction stories, her work will foreground the uncanny elements of both these genres to illuminate unspoken anxieties and desires in American narratives of mobility and stasis, from colonial expansion and settlement to class mobility and frustration.