Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

I must begin with my teachers. This book emerged from the years I was a graduate student in theEnglish Department at Stanford University.As such, my adviser there, Jay Fliegelman, provided the conditions that made these ideas eventually possible. His particular mixture of rigor, merriment, originality, and interpretive virtuosity (I could...

Contents

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pp. xiii-xiv

List of Illustrations

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pp. xv-xvi

Abbreviations and Short Titles

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p. xvii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-23

In 1761, a Swedish immigrant living in Dutch Surinam wrote a letter to his famous countryman, Carolus Linnaeus, telling him of the discovery of a South American root that was esteemed ‘‘for its efficacy in strengthening the stomach and restoring the appetite.’’ The discoverer of the root was, not the Swedish immigrant Mr. D’Ahlbergh, but...

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1. The British Metropolis and Its ‘‘America,’’ 1584–1763

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pp. 24-76

In his Decades of the NeweWorlde or West India (circa 1520, English translation(1555), Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, chaplain to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and member of Emperor Charles V’s Council of the Indies, explained how the newly discovered Western world differed from the rest of creation: Al suche lyvynge...

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2. English Bodies in America

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pp. 77-102

Although history remembers René Descartes for his evisceration of matter and for his promotion of the mind as a sovereign organ of interpretation, he qualified the absolute elevation of mind over a deadened matter later in his Discourse on Method (1637). When he allowed that...

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3. Atlantic Correspondence Networks and the Curious Male Colonial

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pp. 103-135

The NewWorld, which according to environmental humoralism was a potential liability for its settlers, could be and was, in the venues of agriculture and trade, a significant asset.Through property accumulation and ‘‘improvement,’’ through the cultivation and trade of staples such as tobacco, sugar, rice, and indigo, and through...

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4. The Nature of Candid Friendship

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pp. 136-173

Questions of scientific credibility within the political and geographic context of colonialism were worked out within a transatlantic coterie that emerged in the 1730s and 1740s around the correspondence and collecting activities of the London Quaker wool merchant and virtuoso Peter Collinson. There were two women, in particular...

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5. Lavinia’s Nature

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pp. 174-214

In the section of his Natural History of Barbados (1750) devoted to shells, Griffith Hughes defended the inclusion of women in his audience by stating: ‘‘I have heard several of the Fair Sex, who are fond of Shell-work, frequently ridiculed, as wasting their Time in a trifling and useless Manner.’’ On the contrary, he argued, configuring...

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6. Indian Sagacity

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pp. 215-258

Francis Bacon, after defining ‘‘simple sensuous perception’’ as the key mode of modern inquiry in the Novum Organum (1620), challenged: ‘‘If any man there bewho . . . aspires to penetrate further; to overcome, not an adversary in argument, but nature in action; to seek, not pretty and probable conjectures, but certain and demonstrable...

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7. African Magi, Slave Poisoners

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pp. 259-306

Diasporic Africans broughtwith them to the Americas beliefs in the magical potencies of the natural world and a respect for those adepts who showed knowledge and control of natural processes. In the southern colonies of North America and in the Caribbean, plantation and maroon slaves had more intimate contact with both their...

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Conclusion

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pp. 307-316

In the years surrounding the American Revolution, a number of conditions changed that had made productive contestations of knowledge possible. The Anglo-American territory that was the physical ground for the concept of ‘‘America’’ expanded, giving rise, beginning in the 1760s, to concepts of vastness, immensity, and amplitude. As...

Index

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pp. 317-321