The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWhether writing or grading term papers has kept you from all things early American, here’s a quick recap of some of the top news stories of the week(s)!

On to the links!

The Library of Congress will display one of only four extant copies of the 1215 version of Magna Carta in the Thomas Jefferson Building. D.C.-based professor Daniel Magraw compares and contrasts the 1215 version from the 1297 version to prep visitors for “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” running now through January 19th, 2015. Several film projects of interest to early Americanists include the recently released trailer for Ridley Scott’s new epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, along with the announcement of two new movies about antebellum America. The first, director Gary Ross’s Free State of Jones, will star Matthew McConaughey as Confederate army deserter and anti-slavery rebel Newton Knight and is set to start filming next year. And Deadline Hollywood announces that Armie Hammer will join Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, a biopic of Nat Turner.

Gerry Canavan and Matt Reed weigh in on metaphors for the job market. Both urge candidates to move away from viewing the academic job market as either a “meritocracy” or a “lottery,” with Canavan equating it with Scrabble and Reed evoking the metaphor of “casting.” Matt Houlbrook offers a thought-provoking critique of Jo Guldi and David Armitage’s The History Manifesto (Cambridge UP, 2014). And Edward E. Andrews answers some questions about his book, Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World (Harvard UP, 2013).

In archaeology news, researchers in Teotihuacan, Mexico have uncovered a royal tomb with thousands of ritual objects in what may be, according to archaeologist Sergio Gomez, “one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 21st century on a global scale.” BU Today catches up with Boston-area archaeologist Joe Bagley who talks about his work at Three Cranes Tavern, especially on the importance of early American privies for archaeologists. And ArcGIS unveils a new application that provides a change-over-time view of the famous San Jacinto battlefield where General Sam Houston defeated General Antonio Lopéz de Santa Anna on April 21, 1836.

Assistant Professor W. Caleb McDaniel explains his decision to create a “Twitter bot” under the handle @Every3Minutes, which tweets an antebellum slave sale every three minutes. Alexis C. Madrigal offers a powerful and insightful response to McDaniel’s use of Twitter in teaching. Dani Bernstein of the University of Virginia explains why a dorm on campus should be named in honor of a former slave. And, in response to the environmental degradation of Louisiana wetlands, John M. Barry crusades to hold gas and oil companies accountable for the state’s new $50 billion Coastal Master Plan.

The University of Texas at Austin announced its “Entangled Histories of the Early Modern British and Iberian Empire and their Successor Republics” workshop with a kick-start review by Bradley Dixon, who asks us to consider what early America would look like if we looked north from Peru. Follow Jennifer Frazer as she asks Carlota Simões of the Science Museum of the Coimbra University to untangle the Portuguese math tile mystery. And, in light of recent elections, Adam J. Schrager of Madison Magazine offers an entertaining view of what he calls Wisconsin’s most corrupt election—the gubernatorial race of 1855.

Take a moment to appreciate The Art of Google Books tumblr by Krissy Wilson, featuring the re-photography of various digitized texts. Or, take a look at the efforts of Campaign 1776, designed to elicit help for the preservation of battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Finally, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches, questions of historical accuracy and cultural appropriation abound. Just in time for the holiday, Emily Jones writes about being asked to dress her daughter up for her school’s event as either a Pilgrim or a Native American. Jones’s response echoes much of the discomfort around public celebrations of Thanksgiving.


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