New World, Known World examines the works of four writers closely associated with the early period of English colonization, from 1624 to 1649: John Smith's ""Generall Historie of Virginia"", William Bradford's ""Of Plymouth Plantation"", Thomas Morton's ""New English Canaan"", and Roger Williams's ""A Key into the Language of America"" (in conjunction with another of Williams's major works, ""The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution""). David Read addresses these texts as examples of what he refers to as ""individual knowledge projects"" - the writers' attempts to transform raw information and experience into patterns and narratives that can be compared with and assessed against others from a given society's fund of accepted knowledge. Read argues that the known body of knowledge in the period immediately before the development of well-defined scientific disciplines is primarily the work of individuals functioning in relative isolation, rather than institutions working in concert. Thus the European colonization of other regions in the same period exposes in a way few historical situations do both the complexity and the uncertainty that attach to the task of producing knowledge. Read treats each work as the project of a specific mind, reflecting certain degrees of intentionality and design, and not as a collection of documentary evidence to be culled in the service of a large-scale argument. He shows that each author had a distinct voice to add to the experience of North American colonization and that each articulates convention, rhetorical strategies, and applications of metaphor and allegory.