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  • Martin Brückner
    Associate Director, Center for Material Culture Studies
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    304 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-1971
    Office Hours: MW 12:30-2pm & by appointment


    Martin Brückner is Professor at the University of Delaware where he teaches in the English Department and serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Material Culture Studies. He is the author of The Geographic Revolution in Early America: Maps, Literacy, and National Identity (Chapel Hill, 2006), which received the 2006-2007 Louis Gottschalk Prize in Eighteenth-Century Studies. He is editor of two volumes, Early American Cartographies (Chapel Hill, 2011) and American Literary Geographies: Spatial Practice and Cultural Production, 1500-1900 (UDP, 2007). His published essays have appeared in journals as different as American Quarterly, English Literary History, Winterthur Portfolio, and American Art, as well as in numerous essay collections that explore early American literature and culture. Upon revising his forthcoming monograph The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1860 his next projects revolve around the spatial imagination, object narratives, and the role of literary things.

    Professor Brückner earned his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Mainz in American Literature and Cultural Geography in his native Germany, and his doctorate in English and American Literature from Brandeis University in the U.S. Working recently as Visiting Curator at the Winterthur Museum, he prepared the 2013 exhibition Common Destinations: Maps in the American Experience (available at which documents how American maps informed material culture and the decorative arts between 1750 and 1876. A recipient of the Francis Alison Younger Scholar Award (2002) and the Society of Early Americanists Essay Prize (2007), he has held grants and post-doctoral fellowships from various institutions, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2001-2002), the National Endowment for the Humanities (Spring 2009), and the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia (Spring 2010).

    Professor Brückner regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on American literature, material culture studies, literary geography, and the history of reading and print culture.


Research Projects 

  • The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1876
    Brückner, Martin
    The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1860 (under contract) recovers the way in which American people related to maps in their everyday lives and explains a missing but crucial piece of American memory. As products of American entrepreneurship rather than state power, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century maps were highly versatile goods: made of paper, leather, and silk, giant maps sold next to pocket maps, needlework and puzzle maps, handkerchief and parlor-screen maps. By examining the social life of maps—that is, by reconstructing the life-cycle of popular American maps from production to consumption to post-consumer usage—the project explores how the constant use of maps and map-like artifacts shaped the habits of visual perception, spatial cognition, and above all ideas about community for men, women, and children, citizens and immigrants, the free and the enslaved.


  • Early American Cartographies
    Brückner, Martin
    Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2011.

    ​The fourteen essays in Early American Cartographies examine indigenous and European peoples' creation and use of maps to better represent and understand the world they inhabited.

    Drawing from both current historical interpretations and new interdisciplinary perspectives, this collection provides diverse approaches to understanding the multilayered exchanges that went into creating cartographic knowledge in and about the Americas. In the introduction, editor Martin Brückner provides a critical assessment of the concept of cartography and of the historiography of maps. The individual essays, then, range widely over space and place, from the imperial reach of Iberian and British cartography to indigenous conceptualizations, including "dirty," ephemeral maps and star charts, to demonstrate that pre-nineteenth-century American cartography was at once a multiform and multicultural affair.

    This volume not only highlights the collaborative genesis of cartographic knowledge about the early Americas; the essays also bring to light original archives and innovative methodologies for investigating spatial relations among peoples in the western hemisphere. Taken together, the authors reveal the roles of early American cartographies in shaping popular notions of national space, informing visual perception, animating literary imagination, and structuring the political history of Anglo- and Ibero-America.

    Names of contributors in the project:

    • Martin Brückner, University of Delaware
    • Michael J. Drexler, Bucknell University
    • Matthew H. Edney, University of Southern Maine
    • Jess Edwards, Manchester Metropolitan University
    • Júnia Ferreira Furtado, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
    • William Gustav Gartner, University of Wisconsin Madison
    • Gavin Hollis, Hunter College of the City University of New York
    • Scott Lehman, independent scholar
    • Ken MacMillan, University of Calgary
    • Barbara E. Mundy, Fordham University
    • Andrew Newman, Stony Brook University
    • Ricardo Padrón, University of Virginia
    • Judith Ridner, Mississippi State University

  • American Literary Cartographies: Spatial Practice and Cultural Production, 1500-1900
    Brückner, Martin; Hsuan L. Hsu
    Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2007.

    ​This interdisciplinary collection of essays explores intersections between geography and American literary history from the earliest geographic chronicles of the New World to the massive geopolitical imaginings of the 1890s. By foregrounding the unsteady nature of geographical boundaries, the physical and imaginary migrations that coexisted with literary nationalism, and the changing attitudes toward geographical settings, the essays in American Literary Geographies present textual, theoretical, and contextual alternatives to existing exceptionalist accounts of U.S. culture. Beginning with studies of the establishment of names, borders, and jurisdictions, the collection builds toward materialist readings of literary settings illuminated by maps, surveying tracts, travelogues, sailors' epitaphs, and various forms of racialized or gendered mobility. The focus on the literary and geographical discourse addresses more than social and political developments like imperialism, regionalism, and tourism; rather, this volume seeks to supplement literary histories by emphasizing spatial over temporal strategies as the organizing principle for telling the story of American literature.

    Names of contributors in the project:

    • Ralph Bauer, University of Maryland, College Park
    • Eric Slauter, University of Chicago
    • Anne Baker, North Carolina State University
    • Tom Conley, Harvard University
    • Alex Hunt, West Texas A&M University
    • Hester Blum, Pennsylvania State University
    • Leigh Ann Litwiller Berte, Spring Hill College
    • Yvonne Elizabeth Pelletier, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    • Anna Brickhouse, University of Virginia
    • Ian Finseth, University of Michigan-Dearborn
    • Martha Schoolman, Miami University, Ohio
    • Susan L. Roberson, Texas A&M University-Kingsville
    • Edlie L. Wong, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

  • The Geographic Revolution in Early America: Maps, Literacy, and National Identity
    Brückner, Martin
    Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006.

    Winner of the 2006-2007 Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

    The rapid rise in popularity of maps and geography handbooks in the eighteenth century ushered in a new geographic literacy among Americans living in North America. In a pathbreaking and richly illustrated examination of this transformation, Martin Bruckner argues that geographic literacy as it was played out in popular literary genres–written, for example, by William Byrd, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Royall Tyler, Charles Brockden Brown, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark–significantly influenced identity formation in America from the 1680s to the 1820s.

    Drawing on historical geography, cartography, literary history, and material culture, Brückner recovers a vibrant culture of geography consisting of property plats and surveying manuals, decorative wall maps and school geographies, the nation's first atlases, and sentimental objects such as needlework samplers. By showing how this geographic revolution affected the production of literature, Bruckner demonstrates that the internalization of geography as a kind of language helped shape the literary construction of the modern American subject. Empirically rich and provocative in its readings, The Geographic Revolution in Early America proposes a new, geographical basis for Anglo-Americans' understanding of their character and its expression in pedagogical and literary terms.

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