Notes for Norton Anthology of American Lit

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• The “new world” that Columbus boasted of to the Spanish monarchs in 1500 was neither an expanse of empty space nor a replica of European culture, tools, textiles, and religion, but a combination of Native, European, and African people living in complex relation to one another. »full text • The Native cultures Columbus found in the New World displayed a huge variety of languages, social customs, and creative expressions, with a common practice of oral literature without parallel east of the Atlantic. »full text • Exploratory expeditions to the New World quickly led to colonial settlements, as the major European countries vied with each other for a portion of the western hemisphere’s riches. »full text • The role of writing during…show more content…
The Portuguese settled in eastern Brazil, the French along the St. Lawrence River in present-day Canada, first explored by Jacques Cartier and then settled sixty years later by Samuel de Champlain. The English came to the New World late, after several failed expeditions by Walter Raleigh, Humphrey Gilbert, and Martin Frobisher. Once the Jamestown colony survived its first trials of starvation, disease, riots, and violence with the Powhatan tribe, the English expanded from this base up and down the eastern coast of North America. back to Notes The role of writing during the initial establishment and administration of these overseas colonies involved influencing policy makers at home, justifying actions taken without their explicit permission, or bearing witness to the direct and unintended consequences of European conquest of the Americas. The development of the printing press fifty years before Columbus’s first voyage allowed many of his descriptions of the New World to spur the national ambitions and personal imaginations of the Spanish, ensuring new expeditions and future colonies. The long lag time between sending and receiving directions from Europe meant many written records exist as “briefs,” in which better informed explorers attempted to adjust colonial policy written largely in reaction to events abroad or to justify opportunistic actions taken without the crown’s

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