Encounters, objects and commodity lists in early english travel narratives

Kelly Wisecup*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article reconsiders the construction and significance of commodity and word lists in early travel narratives from the Americas by examining the meanings that objects accrued in cross-cultural encounters and their representation in lists. I focus in particular upon English colonist James Rosier's True Relation of the most prosperous voyage made this present yeere 1605, by Captaine George Waymouth, in the discovery of the land of Virginia, which documented encounters between Rosier and the eastern Abenaki Indians and listed the commodities that made Virginia (present-day Maine) a promising location for settlement and trade. Scholars of early American and early modern travel narratives have argued that colonists' lists detached New World objects from their indigenous contexts by placing them in categories that were familiar to European audiences. By contrast, by reading Rosier's lists in the contexts of English and Abenaki knowledge of American plants and fish and of Abenaki rituals of trade and hospitality, I show that his lists reflect the cross-cultural exchanges through which they were constructed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-280
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Travel Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • colonial encounters
  • crosscultural exchange
  • early American literature
  • word and commodity lists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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