The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThis is your late-running Week in Early American History service. Thanks for waiting! We’ve been a bit distracted by the second coming of Junto March Madness. It may not be the only academic March Madness in town, but we think you’ll agree it’s more exciting than Inside Higher Ed’s version. Now that the sun’s started to come out (here in Oxford, anyway) we’ve also started planning our vital research trips to beautiful spring climes, taking inspiration from Jane Kamensky’s trip to Rome in the footsteps of revolutionary-era artist John Singleton Copley. Europhiles or Founding Fathers aficionados, or just those whose taste for Guinness wasn’t sated last Monday, could do worse than visit Ireland, birthplace of four constitutional convention delegates.

If stout isn’t your thing, then how about a new entry on the growing list of founding father themed beverages, George Washington’s peach brandy? Perfect for serving to guests in your magnificent salon. Meanwhile, John Demos’ new book featured on NPR this week: The Heathen School tells the story of the institution in 19th century Cornwall, Connecticut, that “brought together young men from Hawaii, China, India and the Native American nations for the purpose of converting them to Christianity and then sending them back as missionaries to their home countries.” And a new book on John Jacob Astor’s fur trading business purports to reveal the extent of “Thomas Jefferson’s lost Pacific empire”.

Finally, from the crumbling halls and gilded towers of academe we bring news that Sir David Cannadine will be the next editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The American Historical Association has swung a $1.6 million Mellon grant “aimed at broadening the career paths of history Ph.D.’s.” As Inside Higher Ed explains, the project hopes to change the structure of expectations among students, helping them adjust to the desperate struggle for jobs both “in and out of academe”. Those who do find work as professors may find themselves touting their “excellent customer service skills”, while those who make it in the MOOC world will be wondering, who owns this course? Of course, one group still seems to find academia a profitable enterprise—the corporate publishers. And with the writing and editing processes taken care of, what’s left to outsource to free academic labour? Marketing of course! Well played, Harvard University Press. Capital indeed…


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