Captivity narratives are stories of people captured by "uncivilized" enemies. The narratives often include a theme of redemption by faith in the face of the threats and temptations of an alien way of life. Barbary captivity narratives, stories of Englishmen captured by Barbary pirates, were popular in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. They became popular in North America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The first American Barbary captivity narrative was by Abraham Browne (1655), but the most popular was that of Captain James Riley, entitled An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the Brig Commerce (1817).
American Indian captivity narratives, stories of men and, particularly, women of European descent who were captured by Native Americans, were popular in both America and Europe from the 17th century until the close of the American frontier late in the 19th century. Mary Rowlandson's memoir A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is a classic example of the genre. American captivity narratives were often based on true events, but they frequently contained fictional elements as well, and some were entirely fictional, created because the stories were popular. As a result, historians treat captivity narratives with caution, and many of them are regarded more as folklore or ideology than history; nevertheless, historians such as Linda Colley and anthropologists such as Pauline Turner Strong have found them useful in analyzing how colonists constructed a Native American "other."
Cello-rock band Rasputina parodied captivity narratives in their song "My Captivity by Savages" from their 2004 album Frustration Plantation.
Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England. (Reviews of Books).(Book Review)
Mar 22, 2003; Daniel J. Vitkus, ed. Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England. New York: Columbia...