The University of North Carolina Press
In one of the 26 contributing essays to Finding Colonial Americas, Kevin Hayes reconstructs the reading experience of the early eighteenth-century historian Thomas Prince, who scrupulously read the Virginia texts of John Smith and consulted French historiographic as well as English and colonial American historical texts before writing his own history of New England. The essay wonderfully illustrates the dependence of this local history on a transregional and intercontinental network of texts. The many books Prince consulted helped him to define the temporal mode of his history as well as its spatial shape, for among Prince's sources was Pierre Le Mayne's 1695 Of the Art Both of Writing and Judging of History, which distinguishes between history- "a continued Relation, that has all its Parts fastned together, as those of the Body or regular Edifice" - and annals - a collection "whose Parts not being joyn'd, without Correspondence, without Union, are only rude Heaps of Materials" (Le Mayne 54; qtd. in Finding Colonial Americas 367-68). While this distinction between history and annals might seem somewhat simplistic, it is also quite thought-provoking in the context of the two titles under review here and their implicit engagement with forms ofliterary historical narrative. Emory Elliott's Cambridge Introduction to Early American Literature and Carla Mulford and David Shields's edited collection Finding Colonial Americas offer representations of the scope and shape of colonial American literature and culture that are as different in their form as in their content. In fact, while one is quite clearly a completed story, the other might more accurately be called an unfinished map, such that reading these two books together generates critical and fascinating questions about the temporal and spatial frameworks that have organized (or may yet organize) American literary history and have determined (or may yet determine) colonial America's place in that history.
Burnham, M. (2004). Time and Space in American Literary History. Early American Literature, 39(1), 129–136.