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The English Literatures of America: 1500-1800 (Series; 10) 1st Edition


The English Literatures of America redefines colonial American literatures. Sweeping from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to the West Indies and Guiana, this anthology surveys the emergence of Anglo-American cultures in the first dramatic period of the European empires. This comprehensive text takes students through the first colonization of the Americas and stretches beyond the Revolution to the early national period. Placing the literary culture of the settlements in the context of other colonies as well as the growing cosmopolitan culture of the British empire itself, this lively reader contains numerous dialogues across the English Atlantic world. While historical sound and thorough, this anthology responds to current interests as the global context of national cultures, the relation between colonial histories and cosmopolitan culture; the omissions and margins of the literary record. The English Literatures of America offers students and instructors a wide range of voices, including women writers on both sides of the ocean, early English-language texts of Native Americans, and writings of Africans both slave and free, in London as well as in the American colonies. It includes texts from elite as well as common cultures, Puritans in New England as well as Puritans in the West Indies, regional cultures in the colonial South as well as the grand cosmopolitan culture of imperial London. The organization of The English Literatures of America involves a thorough rethinking of colonial American literature that, while retaining the standards of the American canon, places them in a new light. American literatures are for the first time presented in an international and colonial context. Not only do new texts appear, familiar ones have new significance. The Puritans can be read as they understood themselves, that is, as New English. Many texts are collected here for the first time in any anthology. Others are recognized masterpieces of the canon – both British and American – that for the first time can be read in their Atlantic context. Here, for example, are Francis Bacon, Andrew Marvell, Alexander Pope and Adam Smith, as well as Bradstreet, Wheatley, Edwards and Franklin. Despite the unparalleled scope of this anthology, many texts are given complete rather than in snippets. These include Hariot’s Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia , Aphra Behn’s play the Widow Ranter , numerous essays by Benjamin Franklin and others. By emphasizing the culture of empire and by representing a transatlantic dialogue, The English Literatures of America changes the way we look at our nation’s literary history.