Guest Post: Introducing “The American Yawp”

Today’s guest post comes from Ben Wright, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, who focuses on religious conversion and early American antislavery. He is the co-editor of Apocalypse and the Millennium in the Era of the American Civil War (LSU, 2013), the editor of the Teaching United States History blog, and co-editor of The American Yawp.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 8.09.18 AMLike many of you, I find myself teaching the first half of the U.S. history survey this fall. The first few times through the course, I used a textbook and appreciated the clear organizational structure and built-in pacing. Teaching with a textbook felt like teaching with training wheels, and I certainly needed them for my first few laps. But as my confidence grew, so did my desire to assign primary sources, articles, monographs, museum catalogs, and other readings. While I am impressed with the quality of many texts – Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty, and Kevin Schultz’s HIST are among my favorites – I cannot justify assigning an (often outrageously) expensive textbook if it is not going to be the cornerstone of my course. But my course evaluations often include requests for textbooks, particularly among athletes or other students with serial absences. I have tried placing a textbook on reserve, but in the three semesters of doing so, no one has ever checked out the book. It seems like our discipline could use an affordable, synthetic safety net for students who would like one. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Dutch Revolt and New Netherland: 36th Annual New Netherland Seminar

Elizabeth M. Covart (PhD, UC-Davis, 2011) is an independent historian located in Boston, Massachusetts, who specializes in early American history. She also blogs at Uncommonplace Book: An Independent Historian’s Blog and is a Contributing Editor for the Journal of the Early Americas and contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution.

Union of Utrecht (1579)

As my book project explores the cultural legacy of New Netherlanders who lived in Albany, NY, I attended the 36th Annual New Netherland Seminar on Saturday, October 5 at the New-York Historical Society. I admit that I attended the conference as an interloper; I study the revolutionary and early republic periods.

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Guest Post: Weather Talk

Today’s guest post comes from Cambridge Ridley Lynch, a PhD student at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is currently working on a project that links American weather study with larger shifts in American science and politics.

Thomas Cole - The Oxbow

In their recent recap of the MCEAS’ “Traces of Early America” conference, Sara Damiano and Michael Blaakman spoke of the need to examine “processes, events, ideas, and dynamics that subsequent history has largely obscured, and that often pose significant evidentiary problems for those who wish to write about them.” Clearly, the work presented at the conference did much to flesh out adumbrations left throughout the historical record, often by focusing on close reading of specific events, personages, and texts. But what about a factor that is so ubiquitous so as to hardly be thought of at all, one that every single person in a historical moment and place experiences at the same time, and yet goes largely unremarked upon in historical texts? Naturally, I’m talking about the weather. Continue reading

Guest Post: On the Past’s Presence: Historians against Slavery

Today’s guest post comes from Nathan Jérémie-Brink, a Ph.D. student at Loyola University Chicago. His current research examines African-American print culture as it relates to religious and antislavery movements. Nathan also currently serves as the new media assistant for Common-place.

Historians Against SlaverySept. 19-21, 2013 marked the first annual conference of Historians Against Slavery, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is true that very few historians today would endorse John C. Calhoun’s opinion that slavery was in history or is now “a positive good.” Even so, historians rarely consider the valuable role that our research, and our teaching may play in present-day antislavery movements. The fear of presentism remains an obstacle to the historian’s meaningful involvement in modern-day activism. Certainly, historians must avoid anachronistic descriptions of slavery that undermine the specific realities of the early-modern Atlantic world and the early American republic. But there ought to be openness in the academy and in the discipline to let the historical record elucidate comparisons or contrasts between slaveries of the past and the present.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Working for the Library

Today’s post is by guest blogger, David J. Gary, who received his MLS from Queen’s College (CUNY) in 2011 and his PhD in History from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013. He is currently an adjunct assistant professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College (CUNY). He blogs at Function Follows Forme.

I am grateful to The Junto for this chance to reflect on my experiences earning both a Master’s in Library Science and a PhD in American history and to advocate for others to consider joining me.  Continue reading