• Read an interview with Annette Kolodny in Indian Country Today.

  • In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery

    Author(s):
    Pages: 448
    Illustrations: 10 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $104.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5282-2
  • Paperback: $29.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5286-0
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • List of Figures ix

    Acknowledgments xi

    Note on the Problematics of Word Choice and Usage xv

    Prologue. The Autobiography of a Book 1

    1. The Politics of American Prehistory: Isolation versus Contact 19

    2. Contact and Conflict: What the Vinland Sagas Tell Us 44

    3. Anglo-America's Viking Heritage: A Nineteenth-Century romance 103

    4. The New England Poets of Viking America and the Emergence of the Plastic Viking 151

    5. The Challenge to Columbus and the Romance Undone 213

    6. "We could not discerne any token or signe, that ever any Christian had been before": The Phantom of First Contact 257

    7. Contact and Conflict Again: What Native Stories Tell Us 280

    Epilogue. History Lessons 327

    Notes 335

    Works Consulted 379

    Index 407



  • Winner, 2013 Thomas G. Lyon Book Award, presented by the Western Literature Association

  • “Kolodny’s overall approach models a language for discussing the early American literature of cultural encounter with students. . . . In Search of First
    Contact
    will no doubt prove an entertaining and thought-provoking reading for research specialists and educators, scholarly and popular audiences alike.”

    “. . . . a fine book that tells a compelling story about formations of national identity in the US.”

    “[A] nuanced, compelling, and frankly disturbing case study of how the national origin stories we tell ourselves can inspire and then justify the worst impulses of human nature. . . . The great achievement of In Search of First Contact is not the unveiling of new and surprising revelations about what exactly happened 2,000 years ago, but rather the insightful tracing of how stories about that encounter have flourished in the American imagination for 200 years.”

    “[An] extraordinary book…. In Search of First Contact is a groundbreaking work…. Fascinating in and of themselves, these stories challenge the dominant narrative that Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America.”

    “Annette Kolodny’s magnum opus, In Search of First Contact, is a fascinating and often times brilliant look at the tales and theories , sometimes resembling tall tales themselves, surrounding the Vikings and the Native people they found. . . .”

    “Reading ‘In Search of First Contact’ (Vikings, Sagas, Native Americans, Literature): Annette Kolodny. Fascinating!”

    “Any skeptic of the value of reading the Vinland Sagas in an American literature course now has their work cut out for them. By turns deeply thoughtful and delightfully creative, In Search of First Contact is an impeccably researched response to those skeptics, and shows that Kolodny remains at the height of her storied career.”

    “This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone with even a remote interest in Vinland and the Norse explorations. . . . What makes this book so valuable is its combination of readability with (unlike so many other works on the Vikings in North America) careful assessment of the many claims put forward over the years.”

    “Eloquently written in a clear, jargon-free prose, generously footnoted, and containing an impressive list of works consulted, this outstanding book is bound to become a classic in the study of contact narratives and American studies in general. . . . Original in scope, meticulous in research, and provocative in analysis, In Search of First Contact invigorates the study of American identity and culture.”

    In Search of First Contact is a masterful book which should reshape the way we think and talk about contact narratives—as well as about their (particularly racial) legacies in our cultural consciousness.” 

    In Search of First Contact is a monumental achievement: a visionary, scholarly meticulous, fun read pitched for a relatively wide audience. It will be of interest to scholars of literature, history, early America, colonial encounters, and Native American and Scandinavian studies, as well as to primary and secondary educators and general-interest readers."

    “It is hard to do justice to Kolodny’s meticulously researched, densely packed, finely grained, and jargon- free historical literary excursion. . . . I highly recommend this thoroughly researched study as an important contribution to American cultural studies."

    “Using her vast knowledge of American literature and her capacious intellectual energy, Kolodny forms a coherent nar rative from an exhaustive and detailed analysis of sources as ranging from the Norse Sagas to nineteenth-century alternate Nordic origin stories in the era of Indian removal and beyond. … Kolodny's In Search of First Contact challenges us to look beyond standard literary texts, attending to sources in archaeology, anthropology, and material culture rarely folded into our analysis to carve out a new approach to American literary history.”

    "Hopefully the stories that Kolodny has painstakingly assembled here will be set loose into many American literature and history classrooms, encouraging students to investigate the narratives we tell about the American past—and why we tell them."

    Awards

  • Winner, 2013 Thomas G. Lyon Book Award, presented by the Western Literature Association

  • Reviews

  • “Kolodny’s overall approach models a language for discussing the early American literature of cultural encounter with students. . . . In Search of First
    Contact
    will no doubt prove an entertaining and thought-provoking reading for research specialists and educators, scholarly and popular audiences alike.”

    “. . . . a fine book that tells a compelling story about formations of national identity in the US.”

    “[A] nuanced, compelling, and frankly disturbing case study of how the national origin stories we tell ourselves can inspire and then justify the worst impulses of human nature. . . . The great achievement of In Search of First Contact is not the unveiling of new and surprising revelations about what exactly happened 2,000 years ago, but rather the insightful tracing of how stories about that encounter have flourished in the American imagination for 200 years.”

    “[An] extraordinary book…. In Search of First Contact is a groundbreaking work…. Fascinating in and of themselves, these stories challenge the dominant narrative that Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America.”

    “Annette Kolodny’s magnum opus, In Search of First Contact, is a fascinating and often times brilliant look at the tales and theories , sometimes resembling tall tales themselves, surrounding the Vikings and the Native people they found. . . .”

    “Reading ‘In Search of First Contact’ (Vikings, Sagas, Native Americans, Literature): Annette Kolodny. Fascinating!”

    “Any skeptic of the value of reading the Vinland Sagas in an American literature course now has their work cut out for them. By turns deeply thoughtful and delightfully creative, In Search of First Contact is an impeccably researched response to those skeptics, and shows that Kolodny remains at the height of her storied career.”

    “This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone with even a remote interest in Vinland and the Norse explorations. . . . What makes this book so valuable is its combination of readability with (unlike so many other works on the Vikings in North America) careful assessment of the many claims put forward over the years.”

    “Eloquently written in a clear, jargon-free prose, generously footnoted, and containing an impressive list of works consulted, this outstanding book is bound to become a classic in the study of contact narratives and American studies in general. . . . Original in scope, meticulous in research, and provocative in analysis, In Search of First Contact invigorates the study of American identity and culture.”

    In Search of First Contact is a masterful book which should reshape the way we think and talk about contact narratives—as well as about their (particularly racial) legacies in our cultural consciousness.” 

    In Search of First Contact is a monumental achievement: a visionary, scholarly meticulous, fun read pitched for a relatively wide audience. It will be of interest to scholars of literature, history, early America, colonial encounters, and Native American and Scandinavian studies, as well as to primary and secondary educators and general-interest readers."

    “It is hard to do justice to Kolodny’s meticulously researched, densely packed, finely grained, and jargon- free historical literary excursion. . . . I highly recommend this thoroughly researched study as an important contribution to American cultural studies."

    “Using her vast knowledge of American literature and her capacious intellectual energy, Kolodny forms a coherent nar rative from an exhaustive and detailed analysis of sources as ranging from the Norse Sagas to nineteenth-century alternate Nordic origin stories in the era of Indian removal and beyond. … Kolodny's In Search of First Contact challenges us to look beyond standard literary texts, attending to sources in archaeology, anthropology, and material culture rarely folded into our analysis to carve out a new approach to American literary history.”

    "Hopefully the stories that Kolodny has painstakingly assembled here will be set loose into many American literature and history classrooms, encouraging students to investigate the narratives we tell about the American past—and why we tell them."

  • "In Search of First Contact contributes a great deal to scholarly knowledge of the Vinland narratives. Annette Kolodny explains what those stories help us to comprehend about the indigenous peoples of the northern Atlantic coast, and she illuminates the process by which people in Anglo-America have come to understand their own history on this continent. Her exposition of the sagas is absolutely superb. This is an outstanding and important work." — Robert Warrior, Director of the American Indian Studies Program, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of, The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction

    "In Search of First Contact is a tour de force. In this masterful exploration of the Anglo-American fascination with Vikings in North America, Annette Kolodny unravels the mythology around Viking contact with the continent and explains how it has inspired Americans' search for their roots, been used politically, and served to set newcomers apart from the inhabitants already here. She brings a penetrating perspective to bear on the notion of first contact and what it might have meant both to Native Americans and to the Norse. This brilliantly written book is bound to become a classic." — Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, archaeologist and author of, Westward Vikings: The Saga of L'Anse aux Meadows

    "Having long argued that English-language texts alone provide an inadequate understanding of frontier history, Annette Kolodny now challenges the Eurocentric assumptions involved in what constitutes a 'literary' source. She makes the case that North American literary history begins not with the European exploration narratives customarily taken as its start, but with 'contact texts' culled from the pictographic materials of tribes in the Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki Confederacy and from the Norse sagas with which she suggests they intersect. Kolodny's sophisticated understanding of the theoretical implications of her findings, her meticulous and fair attention to previous scholarship, and her indefatigable and innovative efforts to mine material that has not previously figured prominently in these conversations result in a book that is exciting, fresh, and more ambitious and synthetic than any previous effort to explore contact narratives." — Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities and Director of the American Studies Program, Stanford University

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    In Search of First Contact is a monumental achievement by the influential literary critic Annette Kolodny. In this book, she offers a radically new interpretation of two medieval Icelandic tales, known as the Vinland sagas. She contends that they are the first known European narratives about contact with North America. After carefully explaining the evidence for that conclusion, Kolodny examines what happened after 1837, when English translations of the two sagas became widely available and enormously popular in the United States. She assesses their impact on literature, immigration policy, and concepts of masculinity.

    Kolodny considers what the sagas reveal about the Native peoples encountered by the Norse in Vinland around the year A.D. 1000, and she recovers Native American stories of first contacts with Europeans, including one that has never before been shared outside of Native communities. These stories contradict the dominant narrative of "first contact" between Europeans and the New World. Kolodny rethinks the lingering power of a mythic American Viking heritage and the long-standing debate over whether Leif Eiriksson or Christopher Columbus should be credited as the first discoverer. With this paradigm-shattering work, Kolodny shows what literary criticism can bring to historical and social scientific endeavors.

    About The Author(s)

    Annette Kolodny is College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century and the editor of The Life and Traditions of the Red Man, by Joseph Nicolar, both also published by Duke University Press. In addition, she is the author of The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630–1860, and The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu