Guest Post: A Recap of Situation Critical!

Today’s post is by John Garcia, a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the American Antiquarian Society.

interrobang“Historians treat theory the way rattlesnakes approach small mammals. They either strike to kill or swallow whole. The latter often amounts to death by citation.”[1] David Waldstreicher’s statement on the problematic status of critical theory in Early American Studies appeared in a 2005 WMQ forum reconsidering the public sphere as a category for analysis. Must historians always view theoretical work through an antagonistic empiricism, or, just as unreflectively, swallow theory whole? Perhaps the tide is turning towards new theoretical engagements, as historians and literary scholars recognize that theories are themselves continually subject to refinement in relation to historical research. A recent conference at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, entitled Situation Critical!: Critique, Theory, and Early American Studies, offered a plethora of keynote lectures and panel presentations surveying older critical models and offering new approaches with which future work in Early American Studies might engage.

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An Interview with Daniel K. Richter

Daniel K. Richter, from the OAH's website

Daniel K. Richter, from the OAH’s website

Daniel K. Richter is the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he has published Trade, Land, Power: The Struggle for Eastern North America. He has also written Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America, and The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization. He is currently researching English colonization during the Restoration era, for a book tentatively titled The Lords Proprietors: Feudal Dreams in English America, 1660-1689, under contract with Harvard University Press. Today he speaks with The Junto about teaching and directing the McNeil Center, and he offers advice for potential fellowship applicants. Continue reading