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Material Texts: Steffi Dippold (English, Kansas State): “A Prince Went Up a Tree and Climbed into Colonial Typography”
Monday, November 20, 2017 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library

We will be welcoming Steffi Dippold for a talk entitled: “A Prince Went Up a Tree and Climbed Into Colonial Typography.” Steffi writes:

Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, or the Wampanoag Bible (1663), is as blue-blooded as it gets in American book history. At once the first American Bible, the largest colonial printing project, and one of the earliest North American books in an indigenous tongue, Up-Biblum translates the Old and New Testaments into the native language of southeastern New England and showcases the craftsmanship of the newfangled, cross-cultural print workshop at Harvard, still a wilderness college in the 1660s. This talk combines history of the book, material culture and Native American studies to critique our easy dismissal of non-alphabetic typography. Why would the Cambridge printers obsessively repeat acorn-shaped printers’ flowers in the Bible when they had a much larger set of ornamental fleurons available? And what do the acorns do to the Bible? To answer these questions, I recover rich transatlantic remediations of the Bible’s oaken veneer and zoom in on Up-Biblum’s dual readership and work, proselytizing and fundraising among Wampanoag converts and English sponsors respectively, by exploring the traces these disparate labors left in surviving copies.

 

Steffi Dippold is Assistant Professor of early American literature at Kansas State University. She received her PhD from Stanford University and is completing a monograph on the early American fascination with Native American languages and body politics. With Lauren Coats, she is coeditor of “Beyond Recovery,” a special issue of Early American Literature on new methodological approaches to lost and marginalized records that stress absence rather than recovery work filling archival lacunae. Fascinated by material culture, she researches and writes on materials ranging from acorn fleurons, the cultural logic of early modern actual and textual keys, and curative assumptions embedded in an Iroquois vomiting stick to early Native American bookbinding and the first North American indigenous grammar.