Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226659022 Will Publish January 2020
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226658971 Will Publish January 2020
E-book $30.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226659169 Will Publish January 2020

Signs of the Americas

A Poetics of Pictography, Hieroglyphs, and Khipu

Edgar Garcia

Signs of the Americas

Edgar Garcia

288 pages | 11 color plates, 31 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226659022 Will Publish January 2020
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226658971 Will Publish January 2020
E-book $30.00 ISBN: 9780226659169 Will Publish January 2020
Indigenous sign-systems, such as pictographs, petroglyphs, hieroglyphs, and khipu, are usually understood as relics from an inaccessible past. That is far from the truth, however, as Edgar Garcia makes clear in Signs of the Americas. Rather than being dead languages, these sign-systems have always been living, evolving signifiers, responsive to their circumstances and able to continuously redefine themselves and the nature of the world.
 
Garcia tells the story of the present life of these sign-systems, examining the contemporary impact they have had on poetry, prose, visual art, legal philosophy, political activism, and environmental thinking. In doing so, he brings together a wide range of indigenous and non-indigenous authors and artists of the Americas, from Aztec priests and Amazonian shamans to Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, Jaime de Angulo, Charles Olson, Cy Twombly, Gloria Anzaldúa, William Burroughs, Louise Erdrich, Cecilia Vicuña, and many others. From these sources, Garcia depicts the culture of a modern, interconnected hemisphere, revealing that while these “signs of the Americas” have suffered expropriation, misuse, and mistranslation, they have also created their own systems of knowing and being. These indigenous systems help us to rethink categories of race, gender, nationalism, and history. Producing a new way of thinking about our interconnected hemisphere, this ambitious, energizing book redefines what constitutes a “world” in world literature.
 
Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface: Threshold Magic
Acknowledgments

Introduction: Unnatural Signs

Chapter 1: World Poetry and Its Disavowals: A Poetics of Subsumption from the Aztec Priests to Ed Dorn

Part I: Pictographic Metonyms

Chapter 2: Pictographic Kinships: Simon Ortiz’s Spiral Lands and Jaime de Angulo’s Old Time Stories
Chapter 3: Pictography, Law, and Earth: Gerald Vizenor, John Borrows, and Louise Erdrich

Part II: Metalepsis and Hieroglyphs

Chapter 4: Hieroglyphic Parallelism: Mayan Metalepsis in Charles Olson’s Mayan Letters, Cy Twombly’s Poems to the Sea, and Alurista’s Spik in Glyph?

Part III: Khipu and Other Analeptic Signs

Chapter 5: Death Spaces: Shamanic Signifiers in Gloria Anzaldúa and William Burroughs
Chapter 6: Khipu, Analepsis, and Other Natural Signs: Cecilia Vicuña’s Poetics of Weaving and Joaquín Torres-García’s La Ciudad sin Nombre

Afterword: Anthropological Poetics

Notes
References
Index
Review Quotes
Diana Taylor, New York University
“Garcia’s excellent book demonstrates how indigenous sign systems such as pictographs, petroglyphs, hieroglyphs, and khipu continue to communicate to all who know how to activate and interpret them . . . These signs continue to make meaning in that dynamic area between the ‘archive’ and the ‘repertoire,’ animated through use and practice. Signs of the Americas, drawing on contemporary art, activism, and legal practice, makes a compelling argument about why we all need to understand these highly expressive and powerful sign systems.”
Roberto Tejada, University of Houston
 “Signs of the Americas reconceptualizes literary studies by foregrounding objects often subsumed or overlooked in modern and contemporary inter-American literary texts. Garcia rehearses a complex of ideas and forms—signs and situations, structures and events—in his proliferating arguments. Each chapter is a dynamic case study, producing startling combinations of poetic figures, geographic locations, and methodological frames. Signs of theAmericas is an ambitious, energizing, and original contribution to various fields of cultural scholarship.”
Doris Sommer, Harvard University
“In Signs of the Americas, Garcia pries us away from received notions. He reveals that pictographs say more than we have previously thought. Bold and conceptually beautiful . . . Garcia’s poetics of anthropology and ethnography pay off very well here, especially his agility in framing figures to argue for creativity and agency.”
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