Speech, text and performance in John Eliot's writing
John Eliot (1601-1690) was one of the first English missionaries to settle in the New World. Over the past four centuries his life and missionary work with the Algonquian Indians of Massachusetts Bay, New England, have been documented in various forms including biographies, poems, fiction and children's stories. In addition to his active missionary work, Eliot was also a profile writer and translator: he contributed to many promotional pamphlets, authored one of the most controversial commonwealth treatises of the seventeenth century, published fictional dialogues of Algonquian Indians, composed language and logic primers to help in the translation of Massachusett into English and vice versa. His most ambitious and famous publication is his translation of the Bible into the Massachusett dialect of Algonquian. Throughout the twentieth century, Eliot's reputation as a missionary and a translator has received much critical attention, especially from historians of the colonial period. However, given recent moves to expand the canon of colonial literature, it is surprising that there is no book-length literary analysis of his work. In order to redress this balance and consider Eliot's work from a literary rather than a historical perspective, this thesis considers the written records of direct speech, conversations, speeches, dialogues and deathbed confessions of Algonquian Praying Indians, in order to investigate the use and manipulation of written and spoken communicative strategies. By considering Eliot's work in terms of speech, text and performance, this thesis traces the performative nature of cultural identity through the emergence and inter-dependence of English, New English, Indian, and Praying Indian identities.