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About usHow to find usdr. J. (Joanne) van der Woude

dr. J. van der Woude

University Lecturer

Current Projects


This monograph, which I am preparing, argues that early American culture was fundamentally shaped by the experiences of displacement and intercultural encounter. Geographic displacement was felt both by European immigrants and the Indians whom they in turn displaced, while contact and communication between colonists and Natives was essential to survival. These two experiences impacted the writings, performances, and aesthetics of immigrants and Indians. I close-read texts by Puritans, Huguenots, Moravians, and Dutch traders and consider their encounters with Wampanoag, Delaware, and Iroquois Indians, as well as African slaves.

DUTCH AND GERMAN POETRY FROM EARLY AMERICA (edition and translation with Patrick Erben, in progress)

Our proposed edition and translation of Dutch and German poetry from early America would make available for the first time a large, important, and attractive collection of colonial texts that generally remains buried in the catacombs of public and university libraries, accessible only to trained researchers who are literate in the texts’ original languages. Poems about Indians, African slaves, massacres, and weddings in colonial America remain fascinating reading today. Consisting of between 80 and 120 poems, alongside short biographical introductions to their authors, genres, and regions of origin, this book will serve as thorough introduction to the European literatures of early America.


This second book project was prompted by some persistent questions: why do so many Spanish epics on the New World feature Native American heroes? Especially seeing as many of the tribes of those heroes were nowhere near surrender or extinction when these poems were composed (and are thus fundamentally unlike Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans), what possible political purposes might these poems serve?

To start to answer that question, No More Heroes compares early modern Spanish, English, and Dutch heroic verse on America. Such poetry, which is often ornate and classical—depicting, for instance, Johan Maurits’s exploits in Brazil as a new Aeneid—provide a vehicle for political praise. Yet Spanish epics, such as those written by Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá and Alonso de Ercilla, actually critique the European imperial project in their enthralling descriptions of America. Well-known English examples of this phenomenon include Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan (1637) and the poems in Roger Williams’s Key into the Language of America (1634). I am especially interested in heroic poetry that evokes sentiments that run counter to imperial policy. Alongside imperial verse, this project includes poetry by Natives, mestizos, and slaves such as Sor Juana de la Cruz, Phillis Wheatley, Guamán Poma, and Francis Williams, as well as examining the poetic and fanciful responses to the conquest that were written in Nahuatl.

Past Projects

From 2008 to 2009, I worked in a team to create an Ethnic Studies minor (with special attention to migration, ethnicity, indigeneity, and human rights) at Harvard. I created a course to articulated the aims of the larger committee within the terms set by Harvard's Program on General Education. The minor was approved and started enrollment in Fall 2009.

Last modified:23 January 2015 4.07 p.m.

Contact information

Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
9712 EK Groningen
The Netherlands

Dr. Joanne van der Woude Department of English Language and Culture