Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America by Karen WeylerEmpowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America by Karen Weyler

Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America

byKaren Weyler

Paperback | April 1, 2013

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Standing outside elite or even middling circles, outsiders who were marginalized by limitations on their freedom and their need to labor for a living had a unique grasp on the profoundly social nature of print and its power to influence public opinion. In Empowering Words, Karen A. Weyler explores how outsiders used ephemeral formats such as broadsides, pamphlets, and newspapers to publish poetry, captivity narratives, formal addresses, and other genres with wide appeal in early America.

To gain access to print, outsiders collaborated with amanuenses and editors, inserted their stories into popular genres and cheap media, tapped into existing social and religious networks, and sought sponsors and patrons. They wrote individually, collaboratively, and even corporately, but writing for them was almost always an act of connection. Disparate levels of literacy did not necessarily entail subordination on the part of the lessliterate collaborator. Even the minimally literate and the illiterate understood the potential for print to be life changing, and outsiders shrewdly employed strategies to assert themselves within collaborative dynamics.

Empowering Words covers an array of outsiders including artisans; the minimally literate; the poor, indentured, or enslaved; and racial minorities. By focusing not only on New England, the traditional stronghold of early American literacy, but also on southern towns such as Williamsburg and Charleston, Weyler limns a more expansive map of early American authorship.

KAREN A. WEYLER is an associate professor of American literature in the English Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the author of Intricate Relations: Sexual and Economic Desire in American Fiction, 1789-1814.
Title:Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early AmericaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.85 inPublished:April 1, 2013Publisher:University Of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820343242

ISBN - 13:9780820343242

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Outsider Authorship in Early America 1

Mourning New England: Phillis Wheatley and the Broadside Elegy 25

An "Englishman under English Colours": Briton Hammon, John Marrant, and the Fungibility of Christian Faith 76

"Common, Plain, Every Day Talk" from "An Uncommon Quarter": Samson Occom and the Language of the Execution Sermon 114

Becoming "Th e American Heroine": Deborah Sampson, Collaboration, and Performance 145

"To Proceed with Spirit": Clementina Rind and the Virginia Gazette 165

When Barbers Wrote Books: Mechanic Societies and Authorship 204

Uncovering Other Outsider Authors 231

Notes 235
Works Cited 281
Index 301

Editorial Reviews

Weyler gives a fascinating account of non-elites’ strategies—primarily collaborative writing and sponsorship by patrons and editors—to get their texts published during the radical expansion of American print culture from 1760 to 1815. - Philipp Schweighauser - American Studies