Karen Ordahl Kupperman's scholarship focuses on the Atlantic world in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her current project is on language as a source of power in early English colonization. Her recent publications include Pocahontas and the English Boys: Caught between Cultures in Early Virginia (2019) and an edition of Henry Spelman's Relation of Virginia (2019) from the original manuscript. She has also published The Atlantic in World History (2012), an edition of Richard Ligon's True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (2011). Among her earlier works, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (2000) won the American Historical Association's Prize in Atlantic History and Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (1993) won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Award.
What do you do when you meet people whose language you cannot understand? The answer was simple as Europeans moved out into the Atlantic--you sing and play instruments. Americans, Africans, and Europeans all had the same response and all used music as a way to communicate.