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The Networked Wilderness

The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England

Matt Cohen
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    The Networked Wilderness
    Book Description:

    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. 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7049-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on the Text
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    The early settlers of the northern English colonies in America, we are told, were people of the book. Devout Protestants, they insisted that those who would be godly must read the Bible for themselves. They were avid letter writers, they were more interested in writing down laws than were their relatives back home, and they seemed always to be reading or scribbling. Within a short time, the literacy rate among northern colonists was higher than that of the mother country. This was made possible, so the story has gone, by the colonies’ isolation and linguistic uniformity. And such widespread literacy...

  5. One Native Audiences
    (pp. 29-64)

    Thomas Morton’s Maypole, at the plantation he called Ma-re Mount, once served as an axis of revelry and outrage. First Natives and ambitious fur traders danced around it, then angry Puritans circled it, closing in to destroy it. Once it took narrative form in Morton’sNew English Canaan(1637), it began a career as an axis not in space but in time for at least two ongoing stories and their successive tellers. For students of Native American culture, Morton’s work is considered one of the most reliable accounts of contact-era northeastern woodlands societies. In this historical ethnography, the Maypole ceremony...

  6. Two Good Noise from New England
    (pp. 65-91)

    Massasoit, also known as Ousemaquin, sachem of the Wampanoag people, could with justice be considered the most important figure in the settlement of early New England. It was he who sent English-speaking Samoset to make contact with the Pilgrims at Plymouth—prior encounters, as we will see in chapter 4, were not encouraging to either the Americans or the newcomers. From a pivotal position geographically, at Sowams (near present-day Barrington, Rhode Island), and politically, at the nexus of the Narragansetts, Pequots, and English, Massasoit facilitated mutually beneficial agreements and prevented conflicts that might have terminated English colonial endeavors. In his...

  7. Three Forests of Gestures
    (pp. 92-130)

    It was to Massasoit’s village that Roger Williams fled in the winter of 1635 when he was exiled from Massachusetts Bay for his dangerous political and religious opinions. Not long after, Edward Winslow made a present of a gold coin to Williams’s wife Mary to help them make it through a difficult economic time. Like Thomas Morton, Williams was a trader, a dissident, and a friend to many Natives in southern New England. Despite Williams’s risky ideas, exiled status, and lack of wealth, he was valued by leaders like Massasoit, Winslow, and even Williams’s apparent antagonist John Winthrop for some...

  8. Four Multimedia Combat and the Pequot War
    (pp. 131-166)

    It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2005, and I am on the Pequot reservation, Mashantucket. In the sunlit passage leading to the section of the Pequot Museum devoted to the Fort Mystic massacre of 1637, I pause; it is one of the rare places in the museum that is not dense with information. For a brief space there are only a few signs to read, and no videos or life-size reconstructions of Pequot daily life packed with sound effects, anthropological detail, even odors (as was the case in the massive display of the sixteenth-century Pequot village just adjacent). While glancing...

  9. Coda
    (pp. 167-176)

    It is a stark, cold day in early April at Saybrook Point, near Old Saybrook. A stiff wind blows and occasional raindrops dart through the air. It is clear to me, standing here in person, why the site was chosen for the fort that Lion Gardener commanded in the 1630s: you can see for miles in several directions from this small space of solid ground on a marshy arm of land in southern Connecticut. Such a position gives the wind more force, though, and the contrast with the artificial environment of the Pequot Museum at Mashantucket, not many miles away,...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 177-180)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 181-210)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-228)
  13. Index
    (pp. 229-238)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-239)