The Workshop in the History of Material Texts is a weekly seminar that features scholars presenting a wide variety of research in book history, bibliography, manuscript studies, history of reading, publication and printing, and related topics.
Note: This event will be in person and also live-streamed. To receive a Zoom link for this seminar, please email Aylin Malcolm. For information about the Workshop in the History of Material Texts, please visit the website.
Our speaker writes: "The earliest Anglophone literature of colonization (1585-1624) can help us understand the relationship between ideologies of human variety and ideologies associated with print authorship. What were the meaningful categories of authorship in this canon of literature, and how did they develop? In this talk, I argue that print authorship became ideologically European as English authors contrasted their own identities with non-European, non-Christian people they cast only as objects in print’s field of representation. Through focusing on two monumental codices of this period — both folios: Richard Hakluyt’s The Principal Navigations (1598-1600) and John Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia (1624) — I hope to suggest on a granular level how complicated and varied the Europeanization of print was in the Anglophone context. The materiality of books, including paratexts, format, and textual history, provide evidence for my argument. My purpose here is to ask what Hakluyt and Smith can teach us about how ideologies of print authorship collided with descriptions of human difference that laid the foundation for modern racial hierarchies. The bulk of my close reading will focus on meticulous revisions John Smith made to his early pamphlets for The Generall Historie of Virginia, especially passages about Pocahontas. These revisions, I argue, foreground the importance of gender in defining print’s relation to colonization."
Joseph Rezek is Associate Professor of English and Director of the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University. He is the author of London and the Making of Provincial Literature: Aesthetics and the Transatlantic Book Trade, 1800–1850 (Penn Press, Material Texts Series, 2015). Rezek’s work has appeared in such publications as ELH, ALH, Early American Studies, Studies in Romanticism, Early American Literature, and in the volumes Early African American Print Culture (2012), The Unfinished Book (2021), and the Cambridge UP series African American Literature in Transition (2021–present). His second book, The Racialization of Print, is under contract with the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press.
Image: John Smith, The Generall History of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles... (London 1624).