By Susan Castillo, Ivy Schweitzer
This wide advent 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 a variety of old and cultural contexts, together with colonialism, imperialism, diaspora, and country formation.
- Highlights interactions among local, non-scribal teams and Europeans in the course of the early centuries of exploration.
- Covers a variety of ways to defining and interpreting early American writing.
- Looks on the improvement of local spheres of effect within the 17th and eighteenth centuries.
- Serves as an essential adjunct to Castillo and Schweitzer’s ‘The Literatures of Colonial the US: An Anthology’ (Blackwell Publishing, 2001).
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Additional info for A companion to literatures of colonial America
Whereas the indigenous literary presence in the colonial era was once represented as silent, scholars now find a dazzling array of oral narratives, historical documents, and Native-authored texts and with them new methodological and pedagogical challenges. The incorporation of Native American materials within early American literature anthologies is an important corrective to hundreds of years of ignorance or antipathy towards the indigenous literatures of the Americas. European and Euro-American colonists generally assumed that the indigenous peoples of North America were wholly illiterate, thus bereft of civilization and incapable of governing their own lands or themselves.
White’s approach points to the need to reconfigure the notion of a ‘‘colonial’’ period in new spatio/temporal ways, not in terms of some homogeneity of shared formal features or discursive configurations, but rather, as Fredric Jameson suggests, as the ‘‘sharing of an objective situation to which a whole range of varied responses and creative innovations is then possible, but always within that situation’s structural limits’’ ( Jameson 1988: 179). Bracketing the question of Jameson’s own Marxist interpretation of his definition, his defense as well as his description of ‘‘periodization’’ here clearly dovetails with the desire to conceive a new type of hemispheric comparison (spatial) that we also wish to call colonial (temporal).
The Literatures of Colonial America anthology further advances this discussion by including indigenous texts from Mexico and Central and South America to demonstrate that the experiences of Native peoples in the era of colonization may best be understood through a comparative colonial perspective. Whereas the indigenous literary presence in the colonial era was once represented as silent, scholars now find a dazzling array of oral narratives, historical documents, and Native-authored texts and with them new methodological and pedagogical challenges.
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