Finding Its Way: Gordon Wood and the William and Mary Quarterly

007Gordon Wood’s essay, “History in Context,” published in The Weekly Standard in February 2015, whirled up a Twitterstorm. His thoughts on twenty-first-century historians’ scholarship were provocative, and many took umbrage at many of his points. One of Wood’s perhaps overlooked arguments was his statement on the William and Mary Quarterly. “The William and Mary Quarterly,” Wood argued, “now publishes articles on mestizos in 16th-century colonial Peru, patriarchal rule in post-revolutionary Montreal, the early life of Toussaint Louverture, and slaves in 16th-century Castile. The journal no longer concentrates exclusively on the origins of the United States. Without some kind of historical GPS, it is in danger of losing its way.” Was Wood’s assessment—or, perhaps more astutely, diagnosis—correct? Has the William and Mary Quarterly lost its way? To answer this question, let’s build upon yesterday’s post and crunch some numbers. Continue reading

A View from Albion

Readers of The Junto may not be familiar with the early American history scene in the UK. Hailing one from each side of the Atlantic but both working in Britain, Tom Cutterham and I have had to grapple with the problems and positives of working on the history of one continent while living on another. Here is a brief sketch of how the land lies on the other side. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Teaching: An Interview with James H. Merrell

I first met Jim Merrell in the spring of my sophomore year at Vassar College, when I registered for his Revolutionary America class. Over the next two and a half years I took several more courses with Mr. Merrell (professors at Vassar go by “Mr.” or “Ms.,” rather than “Dr.” or “Professor”), where I received multi-page responses to my essays, and comments on my research papers with words like “Huzza!”

Eventually, I began work on my senior thesis, which he kindly agreed to supervise. During the course of that year he met with me weekly to check on my progress with research and writing. His feedback was thoughtful but tough—after receiving his comments on the first full draft, I recall needing to go to the gym to run, lift, and then swim before being able to read them calmly. His assurance “that the draft gets critical treatment that is closer to graduate school than to first or second year college. (Huzza, sez you!)” should indicate the substance of his remarks [1]. Continue reading