Dr. Céline Carayon publishes Eloquence Embodied
My first book was published in 2019 and is titled: Eloquence Embodied: Nonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas (Chapel Hill and Williamsburg: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, 2019). This study, based on expanded research from my Ph.D. dissertation, starts from a simple but important question: how and how well did early European travelers and Indigenous peoples communicate when they met in the early Americas? The answer, I argue, lays in paying attention not only to words but to gestures and other nonverbal means of communication they employed. By tracing the nature and evolution of intercultural communication between various groups of French colonizers and diverse Native American nations across the entire continent (from Canada to Southern Brazil) between 1500-1700, Eloquence Embodied reveals that Natives and newcomers used nonverbal means to build friendly and hostile relationships before the rise of linguistic fluency—and, crucially, well afterward. This book challenges the notion of the early Americas as being a site of misunderstandings and insurmountable cultural clashes, pointing out instead to the intersections between rich traditions of nonverbal expression on both sides of the Atlantic. From Indigenous sign languages, to European scheme of universal languages, to the learning of foreign tongues through mimicry for the purpose of conversion, to elaborate practices of oratorical art and diplomacy, the book takes the reader through a transhemispheric journey that highlights the intimate and fraught essence of relations between the groups in colonial America.
Eloquence Embodied has been recognized by the following awards:
- 2021 Biennial Book Prize from the Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions
- 2020 Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies
- Honorable Mention, Marie Alice and Philip Boucher Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society
I was also honored with a Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity from the University System of Maryland in 2021.
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