The calendar has worked its way round to March, and here at The Junto that can only mean one thing: Junto March Madness is back! The principle is simple: we ask our readers to nominate books about early American history, then we pair them off against each other, until there’s only one book left standing. Last year’s tournament can be found here: Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom ultimately proved victorious.
This year, we’re going to be doing the same thing, only with a twist: entrants to the tournament will be limited to books published since 2000. Last time around, we noticed a tendency to reward older, more established books. We wanted to bring the same liveliness of discussion to more recent works, and to highlight recent work that deserves the prominence of old favorites. We’ll be asking for nominations next week, but we wanted to give you some advance notice so you could start thinking of the books you wanted to receive full consideration.
To repeat: We are NOT soliciting nominations today. We’ll put up a full nominations thread next Wednesday, the 12th, and readers will then be able to nominate works in the comments section of the March 12th post. The nomination window opens as soon as the March 12th post is up and closes the next day, March 13th, at 5pm.
And to repeat what we said last year: don’t take this too seriously. It’s intended to be a bit of fun – to promote works we think might be underappreciated, and to instigate some thought-provoking discussions on recent directions in early American history. No poll can truly reflect the worth of a book; we understand that. But the process is enjoyable. We hope you’ll have as much fun with this year’s tournament as we did running it last year – and we look forward to seeing your nominations next Wednesday!
Junto March Madness 2014 Schedule
March 12/13: Reader Nominations
March 14: Announce Brackets
March 17/18: First Round Voting
March 20/21: Second Round Voting
March 24: Round of 16
March 26: Quarterfinals
March 31: Semifinals
April 2: Final
Jonathan Edwards is so strongly identified with Connecticut and Massachusetts that it’s easy to overlook where his pastoral ministry began: near the waterfront of New York City. In 1722, Edwards took a temporary position as the minister to a small Presbyterian congregation in Manhattan. He was about nineteen years old.
Edwards’s months in New York shaped him in at least two ways. First, according to his own account, Edwards developed a stronger desire for personal holiness. In New York, he wished increasingly to be “in everything a complete Christian.” Second, he grew in missionary zeal. Holding long religious conversations with his host family (who were immigrants from England) and observing life in the Atlantic port, he came to a more global awareness of the faith. He put it this way:
Town crier, Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass., courtesy Boston Public Library
Let me start by asking a question: how many people think that a producer, reporter, or intern for CNN, NBC, or any other news organization actually reads full articles in Nature, Science, or the New England Journal of Medicine to find out about the latest scientific and medical breakthroughs for their news reporting?
Yeah, me neither. So what’s really going on when journalists spend two weeks suggesting that journal articles are out of touch and inaccessible? And if there’s a kernel of truth to the claim, is there anything we as scholars can do to address the concern?
O March! You herald spring and blooms and sun!
But lest you fear a change too swift to speak,
I now present our tidings of the week. Continue reading
Religious liberty, perhaps, is the key legacy of the Revolutionary generation. The new United States was a society where slavery was a growing economic force, gender inequality was becoming entrenched, and the new nation’s expansion relied on the exploitation and expropriation of Native Americans. If there was one freedom, however, on the march in the early republic it was religious freedom. The progress of religious freedom in the United States was also the progress of religion itself. “[T]he number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the state” noted James Madison, that famous advocate of religious liberty, in an 1819 letter. Religious freedom, then, is the American freedom. This has been the animating assumption behind most scholarship on the religious development of late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Continue reading
In honor of President’s Day, this month’s episode features Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, and Roy Rogers discussing issues related to the development of the Presidency in the early republic, including the initial defining of the office by Federalists and John Adams’ and Thomas Jefferson’s challenges in navigating that office, as well as the role of the Presidency in public memory. Continue reading
That moment in the semester had arrived. You know the one: the point at which, having received their grades from the first assignment of the term, students were beginning to panic about their final writing tasks. Even though I, as a historian, write quite a bit, I sometimes find it hard to teach writing because it’s difficult to articulate the rules I inherently know. I also think that it can be tricky to teach in an engaging way. Because I can be a competitive person, I decided to teach my first-year students about writing through a contest of sorts. Continue reading