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Subject Matter

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures Acknowledgment Prologue: Noses, or the Tip of the Problem PART I: Approaching America, 1500-1585 1. Transatlantic Background 2. Technology versus Idolatry? PART II: Invading America, 1585-1660 3. No Magic Bullets: Archery, Ethnography, and Military Intelligence 4. Domesticating America 5. Death and the Birth of Race PART III: Conquering America, 1640-1676 6. How Improvement Trumped Hybridity 7. Gender and the Artificial Indian Body 8. Matter and Manitou Coda Notes Index

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The range of sources that Chaplin employs is very impressive. Geographically, she ranges from the Arctic to South America. She is versed in the narratives of exploration, colonization, and European science. Subject Matter engages the material world and the cultural world and stresses complex and mutual influences. It is a cultural history, but the book is also much more. Read as an environmental history, the book is the most sophisticated demonstration of the centrality of gender to analysis of nature and the environment that I have yet seen. It is a book that I will be thinking about and recommending to others for quite some time. -- Richard White, Stanford University

About the Author

Joyce E. Chaplin is Professor of History at Harvard University.


In this wide-ranging and highly suggestive book, Joyce E. Chaplin, makes a stimulating contribution to scholarship on the origins of American ideas of racial difference. Subject Matter, compliments current work in several ways...Where most scholars, like Winthrop Jordan in his path-breaking White over Black, have focused mainly on Anglo-American ideas of African racial difference, here the author is primarily concerned with Anglo-American ideas of Amerindian difference...The significance of the book and the author's appointment cannot be underestimated. She has become the Perry Miller of academia's next generation, replacing his 'New England Mind' with her 'Anglo-American Body'...Like Mr. Miller's The New England Mind, Subject Matter is an impressively thought-provoking achievement destined to serve as a touchstone of debate for some time to come. The author's style is measured, her concerns moral, and her scholarship daring. -- Evan Haefeli Washington Times 20010610 With this sweeping reinterpretation of early cultural encounters between the English and American natives, Joyce E. Chaplin thoroughly alters our historical view of the origins of English presumptions of racial superiority, and of the role science and technology played in shaping these notions. techdirections 20011201 This book does well what few books manage to accomplish even crudely--taking a historical context that at first seems familiar and showing new and interesting complications, contradictions, and still-pending questions. It also develops a number of subthemes in unexpected but convincing ways, providing a truly fresh perspective. Among the several strands that Chaplin artfully interweaves are race, weaponry, adaptation, the physical environment, the nature of science, English ideas about the human body, dissimilarities with the Spanish national character, and a host of other themes...[This book] provides rich rewards and fascinating serendipity. -- D. B. Heath Choice 20011101

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