Economic Growth and the Historicity of Capitalism

NewYork1One of the central characteristics of the new history of capitalism has been its tendency to defer the question of just what “capitalism” is. The project’s enquiry starts with the question, not with a predetermined answer. But in order to know where to look, historians have to start with some idea about what makes a place and a time capitalist. As Tim Shenk points out in a recent article in The New Republic, the clue around which they converge is economic growth. Continue reading

Telling the Story of Women in Printing

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) both past and present named after the early nineteenth-century British mathematician. Here in our corner of early American studies, I want to mark the occasion by working through a question that I’ve worked on in my own writing for years: how do we effectively integrate women into the history of printing in early America?

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Commodifying Labour, Commodifying People

cotton millThis post is part of an ongoing exploration of the edges of capitalism that I’ve been conducting in the pages of the Junto, most recently here. One element of that exploration, and something that’s been highly visible in the discussion lately—especially with things like the furore over The Economist‘s review of Ed Baptist’s book, The Half Has Never Been Told (we posted our own review)—is the relationship between slavery and capitalism. Today I want to focus on just one element of that relationship: the distinction between commodifying labour and commodifying people. Continue reading

Recap: Old Friends/New Editors: A Conversation about Early American Publishing

This post is co-written by Katy Lasdow and Eric Herschthal, contributors to The Junto and Rapporteurs for the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture.

jer_3dEarlier this month at the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture, scholars in New York City got a glimpse of the most pressing issues facing the field as  seen through the eyes of the new editors of early American history’s flagship journals. Joshua Piker, the recently named editor at The William and Mary Quarterly, joined Catherine Kelly, now in charge of the Journal of the Early Republic, to discuss what concerned them most as they entered their freshman year on the job. Their concerns ranged from the challenge Atlantic history posed to what it traditionally has meant to be an early American journal, to the way technology—JSTOR, Project MUSE, even blogs like us here at The Junto—has forced academic publications to rethink their role in a more egalitarian digital world. Continue reading

Guest Post: Reclaiming a Buried Past: Slavery, Memory, Public History, and Portsmouth’s African Burying Ground

Jessica Parr received her PhD from the University of New Hampshire at Durham in 2012. Her research interests are race and religion in the Early Modern British Atlantic. Her first book, Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi (2015). She currently teaches at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. This is her second guest post for The Junto.

It was a scene that has been repeated in several American cities. In 2003, during an infrastructure project, 13 coffins containing unidentified human remains were found in Portsmouth, NH. Eight of the remains were exhumed for examination and confirmed as being of African descent, and later as part of a 1705 African Burying Ground, once on the city’s outskirts. As Portsmouth expanded, burying ground was built over and largely forgotten. Five additional sets of remains were found in 2008 during an archaeological dig on the site. Experts believe that 200 or more burials could have taken place in this 1705 African Burying Ground.[1]  Continue reading

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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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