This extensive creation to Colonial American literatures brings out the comparative and transatlantic nature of the writing of this era and highlights the interactions among local, non-scribal teams, and Europeans that helped to form early American writing.
Situates the writing of this era in its numerous old and cultural contexts, together with colonialism, imperialism, diaspora, and kingdom formation.
Highlights interactions among local, non-scribal teams and Europeans through the early centuries of exploration.
Covers a variety of methods to defining and examining early American writing.
Looks on the improvement of local spheres of impression within the 17th and eighteenth centuries.
Serves as an essential adjunct to Castillo and Schweitzer's 'The Literatures of Colonial the USA: An Anthology' (Blackwell Publishing, 2001).
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Additional info for A Companion to the Literatures of Colonial America
If hemispheric comparison, as my earlier representation of the colonial weather map suggests, will make us broaden and rethink our conception of the often bloody synchronies of colonialism and imperialism, it should necessarily also make us rethink the question of diachrony. Such comparison is desirable not only because it may lead us to an awareness of newly comparable social phenomena, but also because its revelation of such phenomena will demand new theories about why these shared or different forms of the social relation came into being and intersected in the ways that they did at given historical moments, and why, at other historical moments, they changed.
A critical reading of colonial literatures also reveals how categories of racial identification were historically constructed as instruments of imperialism. Placing these colonial writings alongside traditional and contemporary Native American texts addressing issues of community and identity can provide alternate viewpoints on the value of race in the Americas. Recent work in early Native American studies teaches us that the notion of American Indians as a distinct biological race was largely the product of eighteenth-century empiricist science aligned with imperial and nationalist political agendas.
But while ethnohistorians like James Axtell have changed how we see American Indians in the colonial and early national eras, they have also been criticized for not substantially changing the way their historical methods regard Indian sources. American Indian scholars point out that most historians still rely overwhelmingly on Euro-American colonial records and neglect Native perspectives or tribal histories. Angela Cavender Wilson (Wahpatonwan Dakota) writes: ‘‘Very few have attempted to find out how Native people would interpret, analyze, or question the documents they confront, nor have they asked if the Native people they are studying have their own versions or stories of the past’’ (Mihesuah 1998: 23).