Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2005


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Frederick Newberry

Committee Member

Linda Arbaugh Kinnahan

Committee Member

Jean Hunter


Intertextual, Sedgwick, Catharine Maria, Hope Leslie, Historical romance, Women writers


Since the 1987 republication of Catharine Maria Sedgwick's Hope Leslie ; or, Early Times in the Massachusetts (1827), literary-historical interpretations have most often explored its proto-feminist impulses, revisionary history of the Pequod War, and models of American citizenship. Inquiries into Sedgwick's historical research for Hope Leslie have largely been limited to internal textual references. This dissertation answers questions regarding Sedgwick's research and also provides a foundation for a number of future studies. That foundation derives from extensive archival research conducted at and supported by the Massachusetts Historical Society, involving the examination of several layers of textual evidence (the unpublished correspondence of Sedgwick and others, Sedgwick's unpublished notebooks, published historical documents, and Hope Leslie ). This dissertation reviews the conditions of Sedgwick's authorship, provides a timeline of the development of Hope Leslie , offers detailed evidence of Sedgwick's research, and discusses the literary-historical significance of Sedgwick's historical research. In addition, the archival evidence points to Sedgwick's religious faith and her concern for tolerance as strong influences on her authorship and Hope Leslie . This study finds that, through Hope Leslie , Sedgwick explores the historical tensions within the Puritan settlement in order to suggest a future America that could embrace religious tolerance yet also claim its Puritan past.

Chapter one reviews the late twentieth-century scholarship that led to renewed interest in Sedgwick's fiction and authorial reputation. Chapter two reconsiders influential perceptions of Sedgwick's authorship and contextualizes the examination of Hope Leslie . Chapter three provides the first documentary history of the development and completion of Hope Leslie . Chapters four and five consider Sedgwick's use of history to represent the federal covenant theology of the Puritan past and to explore the potential for religious tolerance. Chapter four focuses on the fictional characters while chapter five examines Sedgwick's use of historical persons and events in Hope Leslie . Chapter six suggests avenues for future scholarship. The appendix provides the documentary evidence of Sedgwick's considerable research in American history. The layers of textual analysis in the appendix support the literary-historical interpretations of chapters four and five.