The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to your weekly roundup of early American headline news. To the links!

Sami Lakomäki explained how cultural anthropology guided a new history of why the Shawnee employed “dispersal and consolidation” techniques in response to the European colonization of North America. Gregory O’Malley offered a new examination of the literature relating to the intercolonial trafficking of slaves in the British Atlantic, describing how the trade was recorded (or not) in a trove of port records, merchant papers, and imperial correspondence. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz spoke about making An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States in response to “patriotic cant”: “The myth persists, not for lack of free speech or poverty of information but rather the motivation to ask questions that challenge the core of the scripted narrative of the origin story.”

Scholars of American intellectual history may also be interested in catching up on a summer roundtable about the role of hell in popular imagination here. In Boston, historians found a time capsule in the head of the lion guarding the Old State House. And in New York, the Historical Society readied to open up a 1914 time capsule with a behind-the-scenes look at the whole process in Progressive-era context.

On the academic front, Salon investigated the salaries of adjunct professors, NPR weighed giving student course evaluations an “F,” and Chad Wellman pondered how Friedrich Nietzsche and others spawned the genre of “Quit Lit.” So what does it look like? “Its form tends to be personal and aggrieved,” Wellman wrote. “The university, like those vague but all-powerful institutions in Kafka’s texts, has been overtaken by an alien, usually bureaucratic-statist-inhumane power. And its content tends to be not just about the decline of the university but also about the impending demise of the humanities. By turning universities into vocational schools, we are robbing our children of humanistic forms of thought and the good that ensues.”

On a brighter note, Miriam Posner supplied some excellent tips on how to build a digital humanities community at a university. “There are a lot of reasons people may not be super-stoked about a new DH center, and it is frankly lazy to attribute these concerns to a fear of technology. In my experience, people who truly just fear technology are pretty few and far between. I’m not even sure I’ve ever met someone like that,” Posner wrote. “The much more likely scenario is that people, especially faculty, consider digital humanities flash-in-the-pan dean candy. This is probably the most pressing criticism you’ll face, and you need to take it very seriously.”

The Omohundro Institute launched The Map, an ever-evolving guide to early American history seminars and events across the country. Finally, in case you missed it, this week at The Junto, we traveled by canoe, ventured into French archives, reconsidered the “new history of capitalism,” and took an insider’s tour of the Adams Papers editorial project.

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