Ana Schwartz, "Unmoored: The Search for Sincerity in Colonial America" (UNC Press, 2022)


New England's Puritans were devoted to self-scrutiny. Consumed by the pursuit of pure hearts, they latched on to sincerity as both an ideal and a social process. It fueled examinations of inner lives, governed behavior, and provided a standard against which both could be judged. In a remote, politically volatile frontier, settlers gambled that sincerity would reinforce social cohesion and shore up communal happiness. Sincere feelings and the discursive practices that manifested them promised a safe haven in a world of grinding uncertainty.

But as Ana Schwartz demonstrates in Unmoored: The Search for Sincerity in Colonial America (Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press, 2022), if sincerity promised much, it often delivered more: it bred shame and resentment among the English settlers and, all too often, extraordinary violence toward their Algonquian neighbors and the captured Africans who lived among them. Populating her "city on a hill" with the stock characters of Puritan studies as well as obscure actors, Schwartz breathes new life into our understanding of colonial New England.

Ana Schwartz is assistant professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Unmoored: The Search for Sincerity in Colonial America and of several peer reviewed essays that have appeared in Early American Literature, New Literary History, J19, and, most recently, in American Literature, for which she is the 2022 winner of the Norman Foerster Prize for best essay of the year. She is currently at work on a second monograph, Ordinary Unhappiness: A Social History of the Soul.

Carmen Gomez-Galisteo, Ph.D. is a lecturer at Centro de Educación Superior de Enseñanza e Investigación Educativa (CEIE).

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Carmen Gomez-Galisteo

Carmen Gomez-Galisteo, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of American Literature at UNED (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia), Spain.

She is the author of The Wind is Never Gone: Sequels, Parodies and Rewritings of Gone With the Wind (McFarland, 2011), Early Visions and Representations of America: Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Naufragios and William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation (Bloomsbury, 2013) and A Successful Novel Must be in Want of a Sequel (McFarland, 2018).

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