A Hawai’ian quilt stitched with anti-imperial messages; a Jesuit report that captures the last words of a Wendat leader; an invitation to a ball, repurposed by enslaved people in colonial Antigua; a book of poetry printed in a Peruvian penitentiary. Countless material texts—legible artifacts—resulted from the diverse intercultural encounters that characterize the history of the Americas.
American Contact explores the dynamics of intercultural encounters through the medium of material texts. The forty-eight short chapters present biographies about objects that range in size from four miles long to seven by ten centimeters; date from millennia in the past to the 2000s; and originate from South America, North America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Each essay demonstrates how particular ways of reading can render the complex meanings of the objects legible—or explains why and how the meanings remain illegible.
In its diversity and breadth, this volume shows how the field of book history can be more inclusive and expansive. Taken together, the essays shed new light on the material practices of communicating power and resistance, subjection and survivance, in contact zones of America.
Contributors: Carlos Aguirre, Ahmed Idrissi Alami, Chadwick Allen, Rhae Lynn Barnes, Molly H. Bassett, Brian Bockelman, George Aaron Broadwell, Rachel Linnea Brown, Nancy Caronia, Raúl Coronado, Marlena Petra Cravens, Agnieszka Czeblakow, Lori Boornazian Diel, Elizabeth A. Dolan, Alejandra Dubcovsky, Cecily Duffie, Devin Fitzgerald, Glenda Goodman, Rachel B. Gross, David D. Hall, Sonia Hazard, Rachel B. Herrmann, Alex Hidalgo, Abimbola Cole Kai-Lewis, Alexandra Kaloyanides, Rachael Scarborough King, Danielle Knox, Bishop Lawton, Jessica C. Linker, Don James McLaughlin, John Henry Merritt, Gabriell Montgomery, Emily L. Moore, Isadora Moura Mota, Barbara E. Mundy, Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez, Marissa Nicosia, Diane Oliva, Megan E. O’Neil, Sergio Ospina Romero, John H. Pollack, Shari Rabin, Daniel Radus, Nathan Rees, Anne Ricculli, Maria Ryan, Maria Carolina Sintura, Cristina Soriano, Chelsea Stieber, Amy Kuʻuleialoha Stillman, Chris Suh, Mathew R. Swiatlowski, Marie Balsley Taylor, Martin A. Tsang, Germaine Warkentin, Adrian Chastain Weimer, Bethany Wiggin, Xine Yao, Corinna Zeltsman.
Rhae Lynn Barnes is Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University.
Glenda Goodman is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.