“Sarah Vowell, selections from The Wordy Shipmates”

Assignment: “Vowell is a personal essayist and humorist that writes almost exclusively about history. But her form of history is more about the present than it is about the past. How does she use research and also her personal voice as a writer to make her essays work as commentary on the contemporary world? Write 500 words and post them to research”

She begins her essay by talking about different television shows that have influenced our knowledge of history.  She makes it very witty and relatable, because it’s very true that most of what we know about history is necessarily the facts you would learn in history text books –it’s little things mentioned in our favorite television shows like The Brady Bunch or Happy Days.

She then proceeds to discuss history in a very casual, easy to understand manner.  She does not simply state random, boring facts about history, rather she discusses the things that fascinate her, and her own views on these subjects.  For example, when she says, “I’m always disappointed when I see the word ‘Puritan’ tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys.  Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except that Catholics are going to hell.”  She’s humorous and she states her opinion in a credible way.



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