The Week in Early American History

TWEAHHere at The Junto, we’ve spent the last week with our noses buried in one really, really good book. But there’s been much afoot elsewhere, both on the web and beyond.

The week began, of course, with what seems to have been a knock-out conference at MCEAS, The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century. If, like me, you were marooned elsewhere in the nation, cursing the wretched fate that kept you from attending in Philadelphia–take heart! The Junto’s own Michael Hattem has compiled conference-related tweets over at Storify, and Liz Covart is writing a handy recap of the panels on her blog.

In a salute from down South, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation laid the cornerstone for its new American Revolution Museum, which will replace the Foundation’s current Yorktown Victory Center. Elsewhere in the museum world, fifing and drumming are being reworked into performance art. And in the legislative halls of northern New England, New Hampshire posthumously emancipated several enslaved veterans of the Revolutionary War.

If you now know The River of Dark Dreams like the back of your hand, take a look at some reviews and choose yourself another summer read. Joyce Chaplin reviews Nathaniel Philbrick’s and Richard Beeman’s new popular histories. David Brion Davis discusses Jim Oakes’s Lincoln Prize-winning Freedom National. There’s a charming new history of obscenity, and–if you can believe it–a few more books on Samuel Johnson. In case you missed this review of Jill Lepore’s latest essay collections, check it out. And on those days you spend on the highway, driving between distant archives, tune in to the consistently hilarious and enlightening podcast out of UVA and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, BackStory with the American History Guys: Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh. In the past month, they’ve posted new podcasts on intellectual property, on mental illness, and on ending wars. I promise you’ll find yourself so entranced that you’ll keep listening when each episode wanders into the twentieth century.

As for the professional side of things: if you’re still reeling from end-of-semester grading, commiserate with Sidney Perth (pseud.), who doesn’t like teaching. Those who enjoy teaching and those who merely care about it may all find their spirits lifted by the news that Harvard is encouraging more of its undergraduates to become humanities majors–and not a moment too soon, if this rather disturbing article offers any accurate sense of how our STEM-educated techie-entrepreneur overlords believe society works, or should work. Meanwhile, over at Tenured Radical, Claire Potter blogs about blogging. (Meta!) And the Junto’s own Rachel Herrmann ponders the plight of the materialist but itinerant academic.

Happy reading!

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