Indigenuity: Native Craftwork and the Art of American Literatures


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

For hundreds of years, American artisanship and American authorship were entangled practices rather than distinct disciplines. Books, like other objects, were multisensory items all North American communities and cultures, including Native and settler colonial ones, regularly made and used. All cultures and communities narrated and documented their histories and imaginations through a variety of media. All created objects for domestic, sacred, curative, and collective purposes.

In her innovative work at the intersection of Indigenous studies, literary studies, book history, and material culture studies, Caroline Wigginton tells a story of the interweaving of Native craftwork and American literatures from their ancient roots to the present. Focused primarily on North America, especially the colonized lands and waters now claimed by the United States, Wigginton argues for the foundational but often-hidden aesthetic orientation of American literary history toward Native craftwork. Wigginton knits this narrative to another of Indigenous aesthetic repatriation through the making and using of books and works of material expression. Ultimately, she reveals that Native craftwork is by turns the warp and weft of American literature, interwoven throughout its long history.


Caroline Wigginton is Chair and Associate Professor of English at the University of Mississippi. Her second monograph, Indigenuity: Native Craftwork and the Art of American Literatures, was published with UNC Press this past fall. She is also author of In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America, which won the EAL First Book Award, and a co-editor of the award-winning joint WMQ-EAL forum on Materials and Methods in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Her essays have appeared in such journals as EAL, NAIS, Legacy, and American Literature. She is a founding member of the Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography.