Hidden Literacies

Hidden Literacies - An Introduction

Hidden Literacies brings together leading scholars of historical literacy to investigate the surprising, often neglected roles reading and writing have played in the lives of marginalized Americans—from indigenous and enslaved people to prisoners and young children.  By presenting high-resolution images of archival texts and pairing them with expert commentary, Hidden Literacies aims to make these writers and texts—which too often lie below the radar of American literature curricula—more available and accessible to teachers and researchers.

You can read the whole “anthology” in linear fashion using the navigational buttons at the bottom of each page; you can also skip from place to place by clicking on links. On every page of the site, an icon at the top left corner of your browser window provides a complete table of contents, allowing you to dive into the section of your choice. Each titled section begins with a page introducing the text and the contributing scholar. From there, one stream of content—“original documents”—contains images, transcriptions, and sometimes translations of texts, while the other—“commentary”—features the contributor’s essay about the text (which you can read online or in a downloadable PDF) as well as the relevant episode of the Hidden Literacies podcast.

About the Editors

Christopher Hager is Hobart Professor of the Humanities at Trinity College, where he teaches courses in American literature and American Studies and for three years co-directed the Center for Teaching and Learning. He is the author of Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing (Harvard Univ. Press, 2013), which was awarded the 2014 Frederick Douglass Prize, and I Remain Yours: Common Lives in Civil War Letters (Harvard Univ. Press, 2018). With Cody Marrs, he co-edited Timelines of American Literature (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2019). His research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Philosophical Society.

Hilary E. Wyss is the Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where she teaches courses in early American literature, American studies, and Native American studies. She is the author of over a dozen articles and several books, including English Letters and Indian Literacies: Reading, Writing, and New England Missionary Schools, 1750-1830 (U Penn Press, 2012); Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity, and Native Community in Early America (U Massachusetts Press, 2000), and with Kristina Bross, Early Native Literacies in New England: A Documentary and Critical Anthology (U Massachusetts Press, 2008). She served as President of the Society of Early Americanists from 2011-13, and has been on the editorial board of the journals Early American Literature and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture.

The editors introduce and discuss Hidden Literacies  in the first episode of our podcast.

(Episode transcript)

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