The Long Game of U.S. Historiography: A Century of Competing Interpretations

The Temple Early Atlantic Seminar presents a day-long symposium

The Long Game of U.S. Historiography:

A Century of Competing Interpretations

Monday, March 23, 2020

9:00 ~ Introduction

9:15-10:45 ~ François Furstenberg, Johns Hopkins University

“Frederick Jackson Turner and the Physiographic Imagination”

Although Frederick Jackson Turner has long been associated with the field of Western history, his historical vision went far beyond the U.S. West. This paper explores Turner’s fascination with the discipline of “physiography,” a late nineteenth century science that combined geography, geology, forestry, minerology, glaciology, and climate sciences more broadly. Might we even see it as a precursor of today’s environmental history?

11-12:30 ~ Harvey Neptune, Temple University

“The Lost Work of Daniel J. Boorstin: rethinking anti-racist historiography on the Early Republic”

In the widely accepted story of the anti-racist turn in Founding Fathers’ scholarship, Winthrop Jordan’s White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro figures conventionally as the “landmark,” the big book that heroically led to the scholarly “demolition” of the Jeffersonian image.  The following essay offers an alternative account, one that recovers a rarely acknowledged piece of scholarly writing that critically exposed Jeffersonian white supremacy two decades before White Over Black.   Authored by Daniel J. Boorstin, this “lost” work first appeared in 1948 in a book titled The Lost World of
Thomas Jefferson
.

1:45-3:15 ~ Johann Neem, Western Washington University

“The Fate of Democracy in the Changing Fields of Early American Historiography”

Traditionally, historians took the nation-state for granted. Embracing a global perspective, new scholars of a vaster early America have moved beyond this perspective. Their new narratives, however, reinforce neoliberal ideas of society and politics. Emphasizing exchange across borders, many histories of early America question the benefits of democracy when contrasted against empires’ capacity to create multicultural global polities.

3:30-5:30pm ~ Roundtable Discussion: The Long Game of U.S. Historiography

François Furstenberg, Harvey Neptune, Johann Neem

Chair: Jessica Choppin Roney, Temple University

** All attendees should register and plan to read the three pre-circulated papers in advance. **

Register at

https://long-game-of-us-historiography.eventbrite.com

This event is generously co-sponsored by the Temple History Department and

the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

Guest Post: Teaching the Caribbean in the Age of Vast Early America

Guest Post: Teaching the Caribbean in the Age of Vast Early America

In today’s guest post, R. Grant Kleiser, a PhD candidate at Columbia University discusses his experience with teaching the Caribbean as a part of Vast Early America. Kleiser studies the early modern Atlantic world and his proposed dissertation examines the establishment of free ports in eighteenth-century British, Spanish, French, Danish, and Dutch Caribbean islands, investigating their promulgation within various political-economic philosophies and measuring their effect on “free trade” economic philosophers such as David Hume and Adam Smith, American Revolutionaries, Spanish Bourbon reformers, and British politicians. He has been a Teaching Assistant for the course, “The Modern Caribbean,” this semester under the direction of Dr. Natasha Lightfoot. 

“Draw the Caribbean.”

That was the first in-class assignment I gave my students as a Teaching Assistant in the course, The Modern Caribbean, taught by Dr. Natasha Lightfoot at Columbia University. I am incredibly indebted to Molly Perry of the University of the Virgin Islands for providing me with the inspiration for this activity. Perry, a Ph.D. graduate of William and Mary and a professor of Caribbean history told me that she always invites her students to “draw the Caribbean” on the first day of class. Some people would detail a couple of the “bigger” islands (the Greater Antilles), others would include the outlines of Central, South and North America along with various “dots” signifying the Lesser Antilles, while some took the assignment as an invitation to produce a picture of people relaxing on a sand beach with palm trees swaying in the wind.

I thought that all these potential drawings could occasion a teaching moment for reflection on geography, various understandings of what the Caribbean is perceived to be, and the need for defining terms (such as the Caribbean) based on legitimate and well-stated criteria. A perfect assignment to start of the semester, I assured myself. What I did not expect was for it to be thrown back in my face. Continue reading

Q&A: Erik R. Seeman, Speaking with the Dead in Early America

picture-155-1357242582Today, the Junto features a Q&A with Erik R. Seeman about his new book, Speaking with the Dead in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press). Seeman is professor and chair of the history department at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and the author of three other books on religion and deathways in early America and the Atlantic World. He has also published many articles and essays, including in the William and Mary Quarterly, Journal of the Early Republic, Journal of American History, and Church History. Continue reading

Interview with David Doddington, Author of Contesting Slave Masculinity

C12A82F3-59EA-4122-A268-3D86945C93B9David Doddington is a Senior Lecturer in North American History at Cardiff University. His research interests centre on slavery, race, and gender in the antebellum South, with a particular interest in examining resistance, survival, and solidarity within slave communities. Today he speaks with Rachel Herrmann about his new book, Contesting Slave Masculinity in the American South. Find him on Twitter at @d_doddington. Continue reading

Review: Christopher M. Parsons, A Not-So-New World

Christopher M. Parsons, A Not-So-New World: Empire and Environment in French Colonial North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). 

parsons

Today, Carla Cevasco reviews A Not-So-New World: Empire and Environment in French Colonial North America by Christopher M. Parsons, Assistant Professor of History at Northeastern University. Tomorrow, the author will discuss the book in a Q&A with Rachel Herrmann.

When the French first invaded northeastern North America in the seventeenth century, they aspired to make wine from the indigenous grapes of the region. By the eighteenth century, however, they faced the disappointing reality that wine produced with French techniques from these grapes was acrid and viscous, and, moreover, that wine grapes native to France did not necessarily thrive in such a cold climate. The dream of Canadian wine proved a failure to early French colonists.[1]

Continue reading

Q&A: Kate Egner Gruber, Curator of “Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia”

kateheadshotToday at The Junto, Philippe Halbert interviews Katherine Egner Gruber, who is Special Exhibition Curator at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a state agency that operates two living history museums in Virginia. This Q&A focuses on her most recent exhibition, Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia, which opened at Jamestown Settlement in November of 2018 and runs through January of 2020. She was also responsible for content oversight of the Yorktown American Revolution Museum‘s award-winning introductory film, Liberty Fever, and contributed to the development of new galleries that opened there in 2015. Kate earned a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and classical humanities from the University of Mary Washington and a master’s degree in American history from the College of William and Mary. Continue reading

Ben Wright: Thomas Paine and the Conflicting Ideologies of the Digital Revolution

This post is part of a joint series entitled “Digital Research, Digital Age: Blogging New Approaches to Early American Studies,” hosted at the Panorama and the Junto. This joint series stems from  stemming from a conference entitled “Revolutionary Texts in a Digital Age: Thomas Paine’s Publishing Networks, Past and Present,” organized by Nora Slonimsky at Iona College in October 2018. This series will feature one post every day this week, hosted by both the Panorama and the Junto, and Dr. Slonimsky’s introductory post is found here. You can read previous posts by Lindsay Chervinsky, Joseph Adelman, and the Johnson/Pellissier/Schmidt trio.

Writing in 1995, media critic Jon Katz christened Thomas Paine “the moral father of the internet,” musing that “nearly two centuries after his death, in a form Paine couldn’t have imagined but would have plunged into with joyous passion, the internet is, in many ways, the embodiment of everything he believed.”[i] Katz is correct in more ways than he intended. That very same year, media theorists Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron framed the animating spirit of the digital revolution as a collision of the New Left and libertarianism. “The Californian Ideology,” as they called it, offers an “optimistic vision of the future [that] has been enthusiastically embraced by computer nerds, slacker students, innovative capitalists, social activists, trendy academics, futurist bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians across the USA.”[ii] More than two centuries earlier, Thomas Paine presaged this curious ideological blending,  articulating the tensions between libertarianism and the left with the same soaring revolutionary rhetoric that suffuses the digital humanities. Continue reading

Call for Papers: Early American Music and the Construction of Race

Co-organized by Glenda Goodman (University of Pennsylvania) and Rhae Lynn Barnes (Princeton University)
Oct. 11-12, 2019 at the University of Pennsylvania

Racial ideology is baked into the cultural and music history of early America. Native peoples and colonists heard each other’s music as indicators of difference, friendliness, or danger. The regulation of song and dance was integral to the subjugation of enslaved people. And, in the United States, a vested interest in forming a nation of white citizens was underpinned by pious and genteel repertoire. This workshop seeks to provide a space for the cultivation of new areas of inquiry into the intersection of race, music, and American cultural history. While the interrelated relationship between race, modernity, and American music is of enduring interest to scholars–especially those focused on the twentieth century to today–this workshop is dedicated to tracing these long-term themes in the earlier period from colonial encounter to the Civil War.

We encourage papers from scholars at all career stages. We especially welcome those using a wide variety of sources, including archival and/or ethnographic work, material artifacts like historical instruments, sheet music, theatrical ephemera, photography, journals, and all forms of print media. Participants will be asked to pre-circulate their 20-page paper and respond to another presenter’s work in this intensive two-day workshop. Bonnie Gordon (University of Virginia) is scheduled to give a lecture for participants on Friday.

Submit a 300-word abstract of a proposed paper by April 15: EarlyAmericanMusicAndRace@Gmail.com.

Questions may be directed to organizers Glenda Goodman and Rhae Lynn Barnes: EarlyAmericanMusicAndRace@Gmail.com

Support for travel and lodging will be provided for accepted participants.

Sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies; the University of Pennsylvania Department of Music; the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts; the University of Pennsylvania Office of the Vice Provost; and School of Arts and Sciences.