Telegraphies Indigeneity, Identity, and Nation in America's Nineteenth-Century Virtual Realm

  • ISBN 13:


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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 02/06/2019
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.)

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Telegraphies explores literatures envisioning the literary, societal, even the perceived metaphysical effects of various cultures' telecommunications technologies, to argue that nineteenth-century Americans tested in the virtual realm new theories of self, place, nation, and god. The book opens by discussing such Native American telecommunications technologies as smoke signals and sign language chains, to challenge common notions that long-distance speech practices emerged only in conjunction with capitalist industrialization. Kay Yandell analyzes the cultural interactions and literary productions that arose as Native telegraphs worked with and against European American telecommunications systems across nineteenth-century America. Into this conversation Telegraphies integrates visions of Morse's electromagnetic telegraph, with its claim to speak new, coded words and to send bodiless, textless prose instantly across the miles. Such writers as Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, and Ella Cheever Thayer crafted memoirs, poetic odes, and novels that envision how the birth of instantaneous communication across a vast continent forever alters the way Americans speak, write, build community, and conceive of the divine. While some writers celebrated far-speaking technologies as conduits of a metaphysical Manifest Destiny to overspread America's primitive cultures, others revealed how telecommunication could empower previously silenced voices to range free in the disembodied virtual realm, even as bodies remained confined by race, class, gender, disability, age, or geography. Ultimately, Telegraphies broadens the way literary scholars conceive of telecommunications technologies while providing a rich understanding of similarities between literatures often considered to have little in common.

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