Sarah Rivett

Professor of English and American Studies
Office Phone
35 McCosh Hall
Office Hours

On Leave, AY23-24


Sarah Rivett is a Professor of English and American Studies at Princeton University as well as the 2023 – 2024 Old Dominion Professor in the Humanities Council. She is the author of The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England (2011) and Unscripted America: Indigenous Languages and the Origins of a Literary Nation (2017). Professor Rivett’s research traces the continuities between religious phenomena and secular history. Her work shows how religion functions as a distinctive feature of American literature’s temporal and geographic parameters, shaping settler and Indigenous identities that are at once distinct yet embedded within a larger field of transnational, religious, and cultural forms. Through research and teaching, Rivett strives to recover voices, lands, and stories of the past that have been erased or obscured by settler colonialism. She seeks to understand how settler, African American, and Indigenous histories intersected as a reparative method to address the violence of the past and present. Rivett’s next book, “Raven’s Land: Placing the Indigenous Northwest Pacific in American Literature,” focuses on the literary symbol of the raven in the Judeo-Christian tradition and Tlingit and Haida literature of the Northwest Pacific.

Selected Publications


Unscripted America: Indigenous Languages and the Origins of  Literary Nation (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas, co-edited with Stephanie Kirk (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England (Chapel Hill: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, The University of North Carolina Press, 2011)


2022 “A Closing Conversation” co-authored with Lerone Martin, Conversation, MAVCOR Journal, 6.3

2022 "Raven’s Land: American Literary History In Medias Res" American Literary History, 34.1 (301–314)

2021 “The Raven and the Bobolink: An American Fable” Early American Literature, co-authored with Chi-Ming Yang, 56.2 (329-350)

2020 “Indigenous Languages and the Origins of American Literary History” The Cambridge History of Native American Literature edited by Melanie Benson Taylor, 17 - 32

2018 “Postexceptionalism Puritanism,” co-authored with Abram Van Engen, American Literature 90.4 (675 - 692)

2017 “Colonial-Indigenous Language Encounters in North America and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World,” co-authored with Sean P. Harvey, Early American Studies 15.3 (442 -473)

2016 “The Puritans,” American History: Oxford Research Encyclopedia

2015 “Conversion, Communication, and Translation in the Seventeenth-Century Protestant Atlantic” in Cultures of Translation and the Translation of Culture in Early Modern Europe, edited by Karen Newman and Jane Tylus (University of Pennsylvania Press), 189 – 205

2015 “Unruly Empiricisms and Linguistics Sovereignty in Thomas Jefferson’s Indian Vocabulary Project,” American Literature 87.4 (645 – 680)

2014 “The Algonquian Word and the Spirit of Divine Truth: John Eliot’s Indian Library and the Atlantic Quest for a Universal Language” in Early American Mediascapes, edited by Matt Cohen and Jeffrey Glover (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press), 376 – 408

2014 “Learning to Write Algonquian Letters: The Indigenous Place of Language Philosophy in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World,” William and Mary Quarterly 71.4 (549 – 588)PMLA 128.4 (989 - 996)