- Literature to 1800
Of special note this year is the wonderful resource provided by the Early American Studies Primary Works project overseen by Paul Royster, coordinator of scholarly communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries (www.mnstate.edu/seabooks/UNL%20LibrariesPrimaryworks.htm). This digital gift to the profession offers free access to complete and searchable primary texts pertinent to Early American studies.
William Scheick wrote the first section of this essay and Jim Egan the second.
i The Colonial Period
a. John Smith and First Encounters
Kim Sloan's A New World: England's First View of America (No. Car.) offers excellent reproductions of and commentary on John White's 75 watercolor drawings, created during five New World visits between 1584 and 1590. Sloan emphasizes White's effort to render the humanity of Native Americans. Later and often harsher images are reproduced in Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700–1850, ed. Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones et al. (National Portrait Gallery). It includes representations of the four Mohawk chiefs who visited England in 1710, when they attended a production of Macbeth.
English reactions to Native Americans and the New World landscape are amply documented in Captain John Smith: Writings, with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlement of America, [End Page 235] ed. James Horn (Library of America), which provides maps, chronology, notes, and an index. Forrest K. Lehman's "Settled Place, Contested Past: Reconciling George Percy's 'A Trewe Relacyon' with John Smith's Generall History" (EAL 42: 235–61) reports that despite Percy's intention to challenge Smith's authority, his personal narrative exhibits a "rhetorical confusion" whenever rebuttal gives way to anxious self-defense.
In "The East in British-American Writing: English Identity, John Smith's True Travels, and Severed Heads," pp. 103–17 in Mary Floyd-Wilson and Garrett Sullivan, eds., Environment and Embodiment in Early Modern England (Palgrave). Jim Egan describes a narrative geographic consistency that links diverse global regions, including the New World. At times Smith avoids first-person narration to evade detection in his effort at self-promotion, but his narrative voice represents English mastery over and transformation of foreign environments, and his body's encounters with global space represents his efforts to legitimate his claim to being a gentleman in social rank. A travel guide that shows a complex view of Indians but was meant to serve as a key to a map of southern coastal New England is assigned a new composition date (between 1607 and 1616) by Mary Beth Norton and Emerson W. Baker in "'The Names of the Rivers': A New Look at an Old Document" (NEQ 80: 459–87).
Reviewing a debate concerning the origins of Indians in "'Some Other Kinde of Being and Condition': The Controversy in Mid-Seventeenth-Century England over the Peopling of Ancient America" ( JHI 68: 35–56) Richard W. Cogley clarifies the difference between two theories about Indian barbarism. One side in the debate held that their barbarism was a cultural trait acquired from the ancient Israelites, while the other side assumed it was an innate trait from their Tartar heritage. As this debate shows, responses to Indians and the New World were less revolutionary than sometimes posited by scholars. This is Ralph Bauer's point in "Of New and Old Worlds: Cultural Geography and the Linguistic Discourse of America" (American Literary Geographies, pp. 29–60). In Thomas Harriot's description of Virginia, for example, "spatial reordering" occurs; that is, exotic experiences are reported as facts but are actually translated in terms of familiar expectations, beliefs, legends, and even agricultural knowledge. The spread of Protestant Christianity to the New World was a core motivation for the explorer profiled in Hakluyt's Promise: An Elizabethan's Obsession for an English America (Yale), Peter C. Mancall's useful intellectual biography. [End Page 236]
b. Anne Bradstreet and Colonial Poetry
In "Engendering Identity: The Discourse of Familial Education in Anne Bradstreet and Marie de l'Incarnation" (EAL 42: 435–70) Robert Hilliker features a poet and a nun who mutually believed in education, particularly familial instruction by women, as the way to replicate European identity in colonial communities. In "Women...