Q&A with Sari Altschuler, Author of The Medical Imagination

Sari Altschuler is an assistant professor of English, associate director of the Humanities Center, and founding director of the minor in Health, Humanities, and Society at Northeastern University. Her book The Medical Imagination: Literature and Health in the Early United States was recently published with the University of Pennsylvania Press (2018), and her work has appeared in leading literary journals, including American LiteratureAmerican Literary History, and PMLA, as well as the Journal of the Early Republic and the medical journal the Lancet. She serves on the advisory board of American Quarterly and the editorial board of Early American Literature and recently coedited a special of Early American Literature (2017) on early American disability studies with Cristobal Silva.

JUNTO: As you know, The Junto is always interested in the experiences of junior scholars who have turned their dissertations into first books. How did your project and theorization of imaginative experimentation change over time?

SARI ALTSCHULER: Great question! This book is very different from my dissertation—but I had to write the dissertation in order to even begin to understand what was going on. The dissertation was about the collaborations of specific doctors and writers in Philadelphia. It was, in some ways, a very narrow and defined topic, which was good for a dissertation. But, when I started to think about what The Medical Imagination might be as a book, I wanted to do something more ambitious. In the dissertation I figured out that these doctors and writers were working together—in conversation—but for the book I wanted to understand the broader intellectual practice in which they were engaging. That’s how imaginative experimentation came to be at the center of the project. It’s an idea I only really began to think about as I finished the dissertation. Continue reading

Q&A: Jessica Roney, Governed by a Spirit of Opposition

RoneyYesterday, Chris Minty reviewed Jessica Choppin Roney’s book, Governed by a Spirit of Opposition: The Origins of American Political Practice in Colonial Philadelphia. Today, she speaks with The Junto about the book project and the process of turning the dissertation manuscript into a book. She received her MA at the College of William and Mary and her PhD at The Johns Hopkins University. She is currently Assistant Professor of History at Temple University in Philadelphia and is organizing a global early modern conference this November: Port Cities, 1500-1800, hosted by Temple University, the Program in Early American Economy and Society, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThis has been a momentous week for early Americanists, with the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination to start the week and, especially for those of us in Massachusetts, the annual commemorations of Patriot’s Day this weekend. We have lots of great links for you below the fold!

Continue reading

These Aren’t the Docs You’re Looking For

Rachel Herrmann concludes our roundtable on James Merrell’s article, “‘Exactly as they appear’: Another Look at the Notes of a 1766 Treason Trial in Poughkeepsie, New York, with Some Musings on the Documentary Foundations of Early American History” from the most recent issue of Early American Studies.

You watch your language

You know the feeling: that moment when, in the midst of crafting a sentence, you realize that the notes you made in the archive are…incomplete. I’m a transcriber, and not one to take digital photographs. I just know myself well enough to recognize the fact that transcribed words are more useful for my writing than image after image of manuscript pages that I will procrastinate from analyzing. This preference, however, means that I’ve encountered more than a few errors in my transcriptions of manuscript sources and secondary works alike. I catch my mistakes from the latter when I’m proofing a piece of writing before I submit it; I’ll go back to the book or article, read it and my quotes side by side, and discover that I’ve left out a “the,” or transposed two words, or typed part of the same sentence twice. Preventing all of my blunders on manuscript transcriptions is another matter entirely, and it is to manuscript research that I’d like to turn in my response to James Merrell’s article in Early American Studies. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A PhD Student’s Case for Embargoes

Note: I welcome this opportunity to expound more fully on a few quotes from me in a New York Times piece about the AHA statement. You can find my Storify of the debates on Twitter and in the blogosphere related to the statement here. It is also worth reminding readers that the opinions in our pieces are those of the author and not of the blog as a whole.

A recent policy recommendation by the AHA on the embargoing of dissertations—i.e., limiting online access and distribution for a specified period of time—has created quite a stir in the blogosphere and on Twitter. Many are criticizing the AHA for a reactionary policy that concedes the status quo, i.e., the undue influence and interest of university presses in hiring and tenure decisions and the profession’s overall laxity in adapting to the digital revolution.

Let me be clear from the outset: I am not defending the AHA’s statement, per se. It does indeed ignore the broader issue of what the AHA intends to do about the long-term, systemic problem of the profession’s transition into the digital era, more generally. I am, however, going to defend the policy of allowing students the option to embargo. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHLast week, we heard the news that Mitch Daniels, formerly governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University, apparently tried to keep “terrible anti-American academic” Howard Zinn’s People’s History out of Indiana’s schools and universities. This week, Indiana University’s Carl Weinberg revealed how he actually used Zinn’s text in a training course for Indiana high school teachers. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: