Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bainard Cowan


John Smith, Roger Williams, and Thomas Morton created images of themselves to attempt to gain position in the New World colonial undertaking, and each uses techniques of specific genres to bolter those images. However, each demonstrates a different degree of self-fashioning. John Smith collects and republishes texts much like Richard Hakluyt did back in England. However, Hakluyt's collections just reproduced texts, while Smith mixed others' writings about his colonial activities with his own work, creating a hybrid text with Smith as the subject. Smith's emphasis upon individual effort mirrors one level of humanistic achievement that Europeans of his era were starting to value. Roger Williams' writings reflect his desire to establish an ideal society in New England, and A Key Into the Language of America shows the overall structure of that society. Later, Williams' emphasis shifts toward the specific characteristics of an ideal religious community. By carefully detailing the traits of an ideal society, Williams represents himself as the person best able to establish and maintain such a community. In moving from one religious identity to the next--Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, Seeker--Williams demonstrates the range of possibilities for New World self-fashioning. Thomas Morton's anti-puritan satire contains a reverence for classical models contrasting him with his Puritan adversaries and revealing him as a precursor of neo-classicism. Within that model, however, Morton ultimately fails as a self-fashioner. Because parts of his New English Canaan satirize his persecutors, Morton spends more time fashioning his adversaries than himself. Morton initially wants readers to see him as a moderate man. However, the actions of the Puritans against him cause Morton to abandon moderation and move into personal satiric attacks. Morton only partially adapted several different models of satire in attacking the Puritans, underscoring the uncertainty inherent in the self-fashioning process. Studying self-fashioning in these three colonial writers makes it possible to assemble a more complete picture of English colonialism. It also provides a framework for similar studies of New World colonists from other European nations, with the goal of making colonial studies a more comparative enterprise.