In The Networked Wilderness, Matt Cohen examines communications systems in early New England and finds that, surprisingly, struggles over information technology were as
important as theology, guns, germs, or steel in shaping the early colonization of North America. Colonists in New England have generally been viewed as immersed in a Protestant culture
of piety and alphabetic literacy. At the same time, many scholars have insisted that the culture of the indigenous peoples of the region was a predominantly oral culture. But what if,
Cohen posits, we thought about media and technology beyond the terms of orality and literacy?
|"Showing how "contact zones" were spaces in which complex informational systems were produced, authorized, interpreted,
and remade, The Networked Wilderness brings together Native
American Studies, Early American Studies, and History of the
Book methodologies to produce a compelling new account
of multimedia communication networks in the New England
"wilderness." Matt Cohen gives us a lucid and eye-opening new
understanding of textuality, performance, interpretation, and
cultural contact extending far beyond the seventeenth-century
context that is the book's focus."|
— Christopher Castiglia, author of Bound and Determined and Interior States
Reconceptualizing aural and inscribed communication as a spectrum, The Networked
Wilderness bridges the gap between the history of the book and Native American systems of communication. Cohen reveals that books, paths, recipes, totems, and animals and their
sounds all took on new interactive powers as the English negotiated the well-developed informational trails of the Algonquian East Coast and reported their experiences back to Europe.
Native and English encounters forced all parties to think of each other as audiences for any event that might become a kind of "publication."
Using sources ranging from Thomas
Morton's Maypole festival to the architecture of today's Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, Cohen shows that the era before the printing press came to New England was one
of extraordinary fertility for communications systems in America.
Matt Cohen is associate professor of English at University of Texas at Austin.
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May 29th - June 1st, 2013
The conference theme, "Towards a New Social Contract?," will explore inequality in Latin America. In the first decade of the 21st century, income inequality has gone down in a substantial number of Latin American countries. This is the first time that inequality has declined on such a broad scale since we have had reasonably reliable data on income distribution. Beginning in the 1990s educational reforms have expanded the percentage of the population with secondary and tertiary education. The governments of the left that came to power after 2000 implemented a number of other reforms to improve life chances for the underprivileged, such as increases in the minimum wage, social assistance programs, and health care coverage. Are these trends likely to continue, or are they conjunctural and easily subject to reversal once economic growth rates decline? Learn More
June 13th - June 15th, 2013
The NAISA Council invites scholars working in Native American and
Indigenous Studies to submit proposals for: Individual papers, panel sessions, roundtables, or film screenings. All persons working in Native American and Indigenous Studies are invited and encouraged to apply. Proposals are welcome from faculty and students in colleges, universities, and tribal colleges; from community-based scholars and elders; and from professionals working in the field.Learn More
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