Boston Map Society

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Leah M. Thomas: “nearly in a circular form”: Mapping the Cherokee Nation through John Marrant’s Narrative (1785)

Jun 24, 2021 · 7:00 pm

Thursday 24 June 2021 

Location: Zoom, 7:00 PM ET

Title: “nearly in a circular form”: Mapping the Cherokee Nation through John Marrant’s Narrative (1785) 

Speaker: Leah M. Thomas, Assistant Professor of English, Virginia State University, and Editor, The Portolan, Washington Map Society 

 Summary: Comparing contemporaneous maps of the southeastern United States with John Marrant’s narrative mapping in his A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black (London, 1785) offers insight into his location and travel especially among the Cherokee and their networks. Taken into captivity by the Cherokee, Marrant is saved by the Chief’s daughter, echoing John Smith’s The Generall Historie (1624) during a pivotal moment in the colonial contest in the Southeast. Living among the Cherokee for approximately two years, Marrant hunted and traveled with them. His narrative mapping reflects the mapping in the 1720s deerskin maps attributed to the Catawba and Chickasaw that may have been of Cherokee origin. Marrant’s travel with the Cherokee during the 1760s reveals emergent settler tensions with the Cherokee from their friendship with the British and negotiations with South Carolina Governor Francis Nicholson in the 1720s to their removal in the 1830s. 

 Bio:  Leah M. Thomas is Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Languages and Literature at Virginia State University, located in Petersburg. She is Editor of The Portolan: Journal of the Washington Map Society. Her research explores the intersection of cartography and literature of the long eighteenth century.



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