Thanks Giving and the Homing Place

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and my first book is about to come out. My good friends at Wilfrid Laurier UP cut a deal with the printer last week to rush a few copies out to me by mid-week so that I’d have them in time for a weekend conference.

The book will be a strange thing to hold in my hands. Even in this seemingly solid, seemingly final form, The Homing Place will remain, for me, a work in progress. Homing is how I will spend my career. It is about deep listening — listening through interruptions. It’s about about transforming the relationships between Settlers and place and between people and texts; about moving away from proprietary relationships of all sorts and toward a continuous process of engagement and learning; about actively participating in an academy that is much more than just a site of Settler power consolidation; and about the ongoing intellectual labour that Settler scholars must undertake and model if we truly wish to become better neighbours to Indigenous peoples.

And because it’s Thanksgiving weekend, I’m giving thanks today for four wonderful people whose fingerprints are all over my book. Elizabeth Mancke supervised and contributed to this project at the dissertation stage, meeting with me once a week for over a year to talk through these ideas over coffee and/or supper. She showed me how to map my ideas out on paper and always challenged me to think further and more deeply. I will never forget the things she taught me in those sessions — not only about my own work but about contributing to students’ intellectual development with respect and generosity. As I’ve mentioned before, I truly love historians, but I love Elizabeth the most.

Lisa Brooks graciously stepped in and helped me rewrite, from the ground up, a chapter dedicated to Wabanaki wampum protocols. With characteristic kindness, she pointed out fundamental issues with my approach to this material and showed me how I was producing the same kind of scholarship that I was trying to critique! I’m so proud of that chapter now, which, for me as a northeastern Settler, proves once more the incredible and transformative power of Lisa’s work on this region. And I am extremely excited to read her new book, which will be out in January.

Drew Lopenzina first taught me how to read early American literature “against the grain.” Seven years later, there are still ways in which I am merely emulating the way he reads and teaches literature — with equal parts creativity, respect, and empathy. I am forever grateful for the example.

And my partner Charles Bryant mulled over every sentence in this book with me. He is my silent co-author on this and all other projects.

I wanted to specifically recognize these people today because they deserve more credit than I give them in the book, and that’s something that has been bothering me. They each receive blanket thanks in the acknowledgements section, but there are a few key places where I wish I had recognized their contributions with endnotes. Today and every day, I am deeply thankful for my family and friends and for the generous contributions of senior scholars like Elizabeth, Lisa, and Drew, who actively foster the development of emerging voices in their respective fields. I’m a better scholar for knowing them and for reading their work, which you can check out at these links: