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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Early modern colonial survival meant that imaginative writings about settlers in new worlds outnumbered imaginative writings by those settlers; yet new world settlers did leave literary artefacts of their interpretive communities. Writing about new worlds tended to fire the fancy, either in fantastic exploration narratives, fabulous colonial prospecti, reflective essays, or in the more outright fictions of dramatic and utopian literature, and of lyric and epic poetry. Writing in and from new worlds was often more quotidian, with nonfiction prose genres like ships’ logs, company reports, personal letters, spiritual diaries, and sermons predominating with a sprinkling of original poetry, proverb, and song. Old genres were modified, and new ones born, by necessity and invention: not only the traveller’s tale and ‘utopian’ fiction, but also the conquest story, the atrocity exposé, the settlers’ covenant, the captivity and conversion narrative, and the extended Eucharistic meditation and puritan jeremiad—and the novel.

Keywords: colonial writing, exploration narratives, utopian literature, ships’, logs, spiritual diaries, sermons, captivity narratives, conversion narratives, early American poetry, puritan jeremiad

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