H-150v. Indigenous Book History in Virtual Space

Michael Kelly Kiara M. Vigil

Course Length: 10 hours
Format: Online

Even before Marisa Duarte’s Network Sovereignty: Building the Internet across Indian Country (2017) was published, Indigenous peoples have had a long and enduring history of creating and accessing different technologies (such as wampum belts, birch bark scrolls, ledger books, and buffalo hides) in order to chronicle Native ways of being and knowing in the world. In the midst of a global pandemic, this course will make use of remote teaching platforms and Indigenous epistemologies to offer a brief introduction to Native North American engagement with books as authors, editors, printers, publishers, and consumers. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students will consider how settler colonialism has operated as an enduring structure, and not a one-time event, in both the U.S. and Canada with particular respect to the history of the Native book. By engaging with materials from Amherst College’s Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature and History collection, alongside scholarship from Native American and Indigenous studies, students will deepen their understandings not only of Native nations’ and Native intellectuals’ relationships to book history and various writing technologies but also of how Native Books provide guidance for critical engagement with settler colonial theory, literary studies, and cultural history. 

Click here to view the course description for the in-person version of this course, “A History of Native American Books & Indigenous Sovereignty.”

Course History

Michael Kelly & Kiara M. Vigil co-teach this course.
Michael Kelly & Kiara M. Vigil co-teach the in-person version of this course, "A History of Native American Books & Indigenous Sovereignty."
This course is not currently being offered. Please do not list on any RBS fellowship or scholarship applications.

Course Resources

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  • Michael Kelly
  • Kiara M. Vigil

Michael Kelly

Mike Kelly is the Head of the Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College, where he oversees the school’s collection of more than 80,000 rare books along with a host of archival and manuscript collections. Before coming to Amherst in 2009, he spent eleven years as the Curator of Books at the Fales Library & Special Collections at New York University. He has held many positions within the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL, including a term as RBMS Chair in 2011–12, and he is an active member of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM). He received his M.L.S. from the University of Texas at Austin where he spent two years as an intern at the Harry Ransom Center; he also holds an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia. In 2016, he was awarded the Reese Fellowship for American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas by the Bibliographical Society of America for his work on the bibliography of Samson Occom (Mohegan). He co-curated (with Carolyn Vega) the exhibition “I’m Nobody! Who Are You? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson” at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York which ran from January through May 2017.

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Kiara M. Vigil

Kiara M. Vigil is currently an associate professor of American Studies at Amherst College. She was recently elected as a Council Member for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association for a three-year term. She was also named the Jan Cohn Fellow and Lecturer in American Studies, for 2020, by Trinity College. Kiara’s PhD is in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and she holds master’s degrees from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College and Dartmouth College, as well as a B.A. in History from Tufts University. Her research and teaching interests are grounded in Native American and Indigenous Studies. She is the author of Indigenous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1890-1930, published by Cambridge University Press (2015). Her articles and essays have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and books, one of which, “Who was Henry Standing Bear? Remembering Lakota Activism from the Early Twentieth Century,” won the Frederick C. Luebke Award for Outstanding Regional Scholarship from the Great Plains Quarterly. Her new book, Natives in Transit: Indian Entertainment, Urban Life, and Activism is a cultural history of Native performance and activist networks from the mid-twentieth century. In addition to her book, Kiara is currently collaborating on a project about the new PBS show “Molly of Denali,” with Julie Dobrow, a scholar at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, in a study about how Native Americans have been represented in children’s television programs. She is also working on an article for a special issue of JCMS about “Indigenous Performance Networks: Media, Community, Activism,” where she explores the labor, lives, and activism of Native women during the 1970s.

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