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Errands into the Metropolis
New England Dissidents in Revolutionary London
Jonathan Beecher Field; Chris Onstad, illus.



Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas

Dartmouth College Press
2009 • 176 pp. 9 illus. 6 x 9"
Colonial History

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-821-4
$7.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-823-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.



Errands has some interesting things to say about authorship, crossoceanic correspondence, absences and presences, and the ability to participate fully in Atlantic religion and/or networks, and how to fashion narratives in London to score victories against over mighty, Bay Colony, Puritan intrusions. . . . This book's real contribution is to show how narrative strategies refined at sea were stage-managed to link suffering and the choking of liberties in New England to old England's own troubles and tense debates.”—New England Quarterly

An exploration of the transatlantic character of early-American religious dissent

Errands into the Metropolis offers a dramatic new interpretation of the texts and contexts of early New England literature. Jonathan Beecher Field inverts the familiar paradigm of colonization as an errand into the wilderness to demonstrate, instead, that New England was shaped and re-shaped by a series of return trips to a metropolitan London convulsed with political turmoil. In London, dissidents and their more orthodox antagonists contended for colonial power through competing narratives of their experiences in the New World. Dissidents showed a greater willingness to construct their narratives in terms that were legible to a metropolitan reader than did Massachusetts Bay’s apologists. As a result, representatives of a variety of marginal religious groups were able to secure a remarkable level of political autonomy, visible in the survival of Rhode Island as an independent colony.

Through chapters focusing on John Cotton, Roger Williams, Samuel Gorton, John Clarke, and the Quaker martyrs, Field traces an evolving discourse on the past, present, and future of colonial New England that revises the canon of colonial New England literature and the contours of New England history. In the broader field of early American studies, Field’s work demonstrates the benefits of an Atlantic perspective on the material cultures of print. In the context of religious freedom, Errands into the Metropolis shows Rhode Island’s famous culture of toleration emerging as a pragmatic response to the conditions of colonial life, rather than as an idealistic principle. Errands into the Metropolis offers new understanding of familiar texts and events from colonial New England, and reveals the significance of less familiar texts and events.

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Reviews:

“Throughout Errands into the Metropolis, Field demonstrates himself to be a truly transnational and transdisciplinary scholar. His careful historical research on both sides of the Atlantic, combined with skillful literary analysis, newly illuminates the purposes of texts such as Williams’s Key and John Clarke’s Ill Newes from New England. For historians, Field’s book also makes an interesting and unexpected companion to Peter Silver’s Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America.”—Early American Literature

“A compelling interpretation on how the power of print helped clarify and shape New England politics . . . . Field’s literary approach to tumultuous colonial New England politics is refreshing and adds a new dimension to early American studies.”—Sixteenth Century Journal

Endorsements:

Errands into the Metropolis makes an original and important contribution to the study of early modern transatlantic culture and histories of the book. Field’s work offers a powerful new model for understanding the relation between print and cultural authority.”—Jim Egan, Department of English, Brown University

“Errands into the Metropolis offers a compelling, succinct new vision of the political imagination that shaped New England's settlement. The stories told here about contests over religious tolerance and space—in which Quakers in Barbados, Native sachems, unorthodox dissenters, and English printers and patrons all play key parts—challenge us to revise our understanding of early New English authorship, intellectual life, and politics.”—Matt Cohen, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin



JONATHAN BEECHER FIELD is an assistant professor of English at Clemson University.






Fri, 8 Aug 2014 12:01:32 -0500