The Week in Early American History

TWEAH

‘TWEAH, two nights before Christmas, when thr’out the blog roll
Not a creature was stirring, not even a troll;
The grades were all posted to Blackboard with care,
In hopes that strong evals soon would be there;
The grad students were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of fellowships danc’d in their heads,
And Ben Park in his ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains on an early Americanist recap.

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American Studies Association: A Preview for Early Americanists

ASAlogoThis coming weekend the American Studies Association descends on Washington, D.C. for the annual conference. The theme this year is “Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent,” and with thirteen concurrent sessions it promises to be a busy weekend. The ASA is not exactly a bastion of early Americanist work these days, but many of the overriding themes in current scholarship have their roots in early American history. Investigating the ramifications of colonialism and colonialist attitudes? check. Wrestling with (the legacy of) slavery? check. Questioning the role of gender in society? check.

For ten years, the Early American Matters Caucus has been sponsoring panels, and thanks to scrupulous program combing by Dennis Moore and the Working Committee, we can provide a guide to early (meaning, pre-1900) events at the conference.

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Gaming In The Classroom: Washington’s War

One of the key difficulties of teaching the American Revolution is the seeming inevitability of it all. Why did Britain even bother pursuing its bothersome colonists? After all, the patriot cause was so noble and glorious that there was surely no way that such perfidious villains as the redcoats could possibly have triumphed. And yet within that myth, there is a persistent paradox: the patriot cause is often “proven” by the victory of such an inferior force against the strongest military power in the world in the late 18th century. But for this narrative to make any sense at all, there must have been a real risk of defeat; unless Britain could realistically have defeated their colonists, why would the morality of the patriots be of any consequence whatsoever? Continue reading