Companion to the Literatures of Colonial America

Castillo, Susan
Schweitzer, Ivy
Date published: 
September 2005

Consisting of more than 30 original essays by leading scholars in the field, this Companion provides a broad introduction to Colonial American literatures. The volume situates texts in their various historical and cultural contexts, including colonialism, imperialism, diaspora, and nation formation. In particular, it brings out the comparative, hemispheric and transatlantic nature of the writing of this period, and highlights the interactions between non-scribal native groups and Europeans that helped to shape early American writing. The Companion is divided into four main sections: the opening section on issues and methods covers a wide range of approaches to defining and reading early American writing; the second section, entitled “New World Encounters”, considers the interactions between cultural groups during the early centuries of exploration; the third section on identities looks at the development of regional spheres of influence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; while the final section considers major genres and writers of the period in a series of “Cross-Cultural Conversations”. The Companion is designed to be used alongside Castillo and Schweitzer’s The Literatures of Colonial America: An Anthology (Blackwell Publishing, 2001).