Rip Van Digital

virtual-conference-loungex1Last night, I had a dream about waking up at some indeterminate time in the future, not too distant but not very close either. It was one of those kinds of dreams where you find yourself in a world that is so clearly different from your own, yet at the same time seems strikingly familiar. I was still my same-old early Americanist self. But where was I? Well, that was part of the beauty of it. It didn’t matter. I found myself in an early Americanist digital universe of the future. Not just a blogosphere. Not just various social media platforms. Not just online magazines. But an integrated digital universe, one in which access and participation in all the appurtenances of the institutional life of the profession—conferences, working groups, publishing—had been prioritized and maximized and the restraints of distance and resources minimized. And here’s what it looked like…

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe past week has brought a number of fascinating developments in the world of academe and early America. But I think by far the most exciting has been the arrival in mailboxes around the country of the Fall 2014 issue of Early American Studies—a special edition dedicated to “Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America.” The articles are rich, creative, and surprising; I haven’t been able to put the issue down. If you’ve not gotten around to reading it yet, head on over to Project Muse and enjoy. In case you have already savored the new EAS issue, though, here’s your weekly roundup of noteworthy online happenings to bide you through a crisp fall Sunday. Continue reading

Maryland Football and Public Memory of the War of 1812

Screen-shot-2014-09-09-at-11.36.16-AMEarlier this week, the University of Maryland and their athletic uniform supplier, Under Armour, announced that the university’s football team “will wear football uniforms inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when it hosts West Virginia at Byrd Stadium” tomorrow, September 13.[1] The game will be played exactly 200 years to the day after Francis Scott Key penned “Defence of Fort McHenry,” a poem later set to music and adopted as the national anthem of the United States, which helped ensure that the all too oft-forgotten War of 1812 would retain some place in America’s collective memory. Continue reading

Highlights from the British Group of Early American Historians

This weekend it wasn’t just the swiftly-approaching independence referendum causing excitement in Edinburgh—it was also the annual conference of the British Group of Early American Historians (BGEAH: that’s “beggar” to some, “big-ear” to others), which brought together early Americanists from Southampton to Dundee and all points in between, plus a few from the far side of the Atlantic. In the stately setting of Edinburgh University’s Old Medical School, the theme we were given was “Better Together? Union and Disunion in the Early Modern Atlantic.” I couldn’t possibly cover everything, but in this post I’ll share a few of my personal highlights. Continue reading

Guest Post: American and Scottish Independence: Hearts and Minds

Simon Newman is Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History at the University of Glasgow. His most recent book, A New World of Labor: The Development of Plantation Slavery in the British Atlantic, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013. In this guest post, Newman draws parallels between the American campaign for independence in the 1770s, and the current campaign for Scottish independence.

On September 18th millions of voters in Scotland will head to the polls to answer a simple question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” As an historian of the American Revolution living and working in Scotland I am struck by the parallels not just between the two movements for independence, but more significantly between the ways in which the British government in the eighteenth century and the UK government in the twenty-first century have challenged those who sought and seek independence. Continue reading