Encountering early America

Encountering early America traces the history of England’s first century of encounters with America. As this book argues, the sixteenth century represents a discreet and influential period in the history of English encounters with the Americas that is characterised by a multiplicity of approaches. The book provides a crucial chapter in the larger history of the development of the British Empire. It reminds us that the march of British imperialism was by no means inevitable, or exceptional. The emergence of English overseas colonies in the Americas was the result of a century-long engagement with the imperial practices of other European nations and was the consequence of a dynamic and adaptive approach to exploration and settlement that was often born from previous failure. To illuminate these complex processes, the book uncovers the various cultural associations that shaped English perceptions of the New World, and in turn English approaches to exploration and colonisation. It assesses how English colonisers and explorers constructed theories of empire using Old World frameworks of understanding, examines how explorative failures and an oscillating English religious, economic, and cultural landscape affected English New World ventures, and explores how the practicalities of English trade and settlement in the Americas manifested themselves in descriptions of Indigenous appearance and behaviour and in accounts of American environments. The book will be of particular interest to scholars and students working on early English colonialism in North America and European cultural encounters with the New World.

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