Cohen, Matt 2009

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Protestant settlers of North America were "people of the book", natives had an "oral culture"

But this story has become more complicated: attuned to oral/sonic nature of Protestant settler culture and writing forms of Algonquians

Criss-crossing networks of communication

William Bradford, caught in a native deer trap; native caught in a MA settler wolf trap -- trap as a kind of "lieutenant (literally, from French, a 'place-holder'), telling its setter about local populations or movements otherwise unknown or invisible. It intercepts messages regardless of their origins or intended destinations." (4)

"By reconceptualizing New England encounters in terms of communications technologies and networks of signification, such moments can be read in ways that reveal how historical interpretation continues to depend on assumptions about the nature of communication." (4)

Book history and Native American studies "have constructed each other, perhaps unintentionally, as incompatible, even in some ways antithetical" (5)

Ong: myth and legend govern in oral cultures; abstraction in written/alphabetic cultures -- book history only concerned with materiality

Cites raymond williams -- broadened definition of "material" to include human labor (c.f. Latour 2011 and ANT)

"Publication event," material and performative; "an embodied act of information exchange" that "presumes that its participants are aware that an act of communication is intended" (7)

Communication: "a relative and emergent process"

Colonizer texts not enough to understand the moment, as they misrepresent indigenous worldview through alphabetic literacy; indigenous worldviews not enough, as they are difficult to interpret

"In publication events it is not just the outcome but the set of interactions that becomes the focus. The same should be true, I argue, of our stance in studying such events." (10)

"need to be able to think about representation in ways that acknowledge difference and its effects without insisting that there must be a knowable single source or origin of that difference" (11)

History of book in New England generally begins with Antinomian crisis of 1637-8, coincided with first English printing press in America -- but what of history of book before printing press came to america?

"Broadening the definition of the 'history of the book' will help produce a critical vision for scholars and a reading practice for students less subject to binaries that have often driven North American colonial studies in the past: orality and literacy, objects and subjects, technology and nature. In what follows, i propose a theoretical reframing of the question of the production of textuality that addresses how literatures of encounter are analyzed and taught by amplifying the analysis of the material, sonic, and performatie contexts of the production of social experience and knowledge in the seventeenth century." (12)

Darnton, grounding book history in written signs in books; "how can extending the history of the book be justified when its definitional restrictions to the world of print culture would seem to be the source of its strength?" (13)

McKenzie was okay expanding definition to include other media

Chartier says to read communities of readers but what constituted that community is precisely the question in early colonial America

McKenzie -- weaknesses in his thinking re sociology of the text: 1) authorial intention as "speculative instrument" to reconstruct understanding is too narrow to include most printed texts ("Publication is choral" 15); 2) his understanding of orality/literacy; "the oral-literate dichotomy that structures M's understanding of indigenous performance culture simultaneously functions to evacuate the complexity of indigenous communication and to make a progressive political point about the parameters necessary to place on Westerners' insistence on written performances in negotiations over sovereignty." (16)

"The spen noninscriptive signification practices and the history of the book opens up at a practical level where it closes at a theoretical one. McKenzie's theory about what should be preserved allows us to understand the preservation of culture in a nonnational, nonmaterial way, but his application of it, based on the great divide of orality and literacy, protects the archive by establishing the irretrievability, the unpreservability of, the oral. Such a theory, however much it may insist on the primacy of oral utterance as a viable form of political representation, keeps in place the idea that such utterance is flexible and thus not legally equivalent to written utterance. As long as presence in an archive qualifies an utterance for verification, reality, and history, what is preserved is not just materials, not only books or treaties, but a way of thinking about consent and about evidence that hampers the establishment of just human relations." (17)

"what if, in negotiating for resources with other groups of people, we posit that communication is not to be trusted as transparent, that consent is an ongoing process, and that literacy is not an ideal or an achievement but an evolving, uneven site of struggle for power? Such a framework might displace the ideal of understanding in favor of a more provisional, patient, and humane set of expectations about negotiating." (19)

"I want to emphasize the kinds of reading practices we must bring to early American media rather than the delineation of a factual, chronological history." (20)

"One of the ways out of the orality-literacy labyrinth is by approaching the analysis of moments on a spectrum of publication in space and through performance. The question then becomes how to reconstruct the materiality of oral performance, and following this, to account for the audience as a producer." (21)

How people live in space, their social experience of it

"The Networked Wilderness hopes to integrate the study of the physical text iwth literary analysis and to break down the separation of indigenous studies form the history of the book. To do so means engaging the implications of idssolving orality and literacy into a continuous topography or spectrum rather than thinking of them as a series of overlapping but always distinct cognitive categories or habits." (25)

Colonial books bracket "native voices at the level of content" but grant "authority to them visually and diacritically" (26)