Assembled for Use

Indigenous Compilation and the Archives of Early Native American Literatures

Kelly Wisecup

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A wide-ranging, multidisciplinary look at Native American literature through non-narrative texts like lists, albums, recipes, and scrapbooks

Kelly Wisecup offers a sweeping account of early Native American literatures by examining Indigenous compilations: intentionally assembled texts that Native people made by juxtaposing and recontextualizing textual excerpts into new relations and meanings. Experiments in reading and recirculation, Indigenous compilations include Mohegan minister Samson Occom’s medicinal recipes, the Ojibwe woman Charlotte Johnston’s poetry scrapbooks, and Abenaki leader Joseph Laurent’s vocabulary lists. Indigenous compilations proliferated in a period of colonial archive making, and Native writers used compilations to remake the very forms that defined their bodies, belongings, and words as ethnographic evidence. This study enables new understandings of canonical Native writers like William Apess, prominent settler collectors like Thomas Jefferson and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, and Native people who contributed to compilations but remain absent from literary histories. Long before current conversations about decolonizing archives and museums, Native writers made and circulated compilations to critique colonial archives and foster relations within Indigenous communities.

Kelly Wisecup is associate professor of English at Northwestern University. She is the author of Medical Encounters: Knowledge and Identity in Early American Literatures and editor of “Good News from New England” by Edward Winslow: A Scholarly Edition.

"In Assembled for Use, Kelly Wisecup narrates an intricate history of Native textual production, use, and circulation that reshapes how we think about relationships between Native materials and settler-colonial collections."—Rose Miron, D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library

"Unsettling literary expectations and settler colonial archiving practices, Wisecup's astonishing book celebrates Indigenous compiling and collecting as creative acts of cultural continuity. Truly groundbreaking work, this is a generous and thought-provoking act of recovery and close reading."—Hilary E. Wyss, Trinity College

"A kaleidoscopic assemblage of Indigenous voices, places and relationships, Assembled for Use moves between intricate, illuminating analysis and expansive relational connections, generating a clear vision of how Indigenous compilations reconfigure American Literature. I learned so much."—Lisa Brooks, author of Our Beloved Kin

"Wide ranging in historical scope and illuminating in its inter-cultural methodologies, Assembled for Use explores a surprising array of literacy practices that became constitutive elements of indigenous community formation during the nineteenth century."—Phillip H. Round, author of Removable Type
ISBN: 9780300243284
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
328 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
28 b/w illus.
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