Where Historians Work: Q&A with Kenneth Minkema of the Jonathan Edwards Center

“The search for gainful employment drives a willingness to be diverse in your ways of being a historian.” ~ Dr. Kenneth P. Minkema, The Jonathan Edwards Center, Yale University.

Minkema photo

For this week’s “Where Historians Work: The View from Early America,” The Junto features a Q&A with Dr. Kenneth P. Minkema, the Executive Editor of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, and the Executive Director of The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. Dr. Minkema is also a member of the Research Faculty at the Yale Divinity School.

In today’s Q&A, Katy and Ken chat about many topics, including the role that mentors and advisors can play in shaping career choices in graduate school and beyond, and how finding the right “fit” or “vocation” can be a true source of professional inspiration and purpose. Continue reading

Roundtable: Making American Pompons Great Again

Roundtable: Making American Pompons Great Again

This Colonial Couture post is by guest contributor Ben Marsh, senior lecturer in history at the University of Kent. His current research project is “Unravelling Dreams: Silkworms and the Atlantic World, c. 1500-1840.”

Super Bowl LI

Super Bowl LI

In July 1760, an American correspondent writing to a former neighbor in Surrey, England, graciously thanked them for dispatching a package across to South Carolina, risking the perils of transatlantic post during the Seven Years’ War, to send some cosmopolitan gifts. The gift of a fan was heralded as a “curiosity,” the suit (probably linen, though this descriptor was scored out) was apparently “universally admired,” but the real coup in the package was unquestionably the pompon. Not only was the pompon the prettiest these Americans had apparently ever seen, but the girl it was intended for was delighted “the more so as they are the first of ye fashion that have reach[e]d this part of the world.” Continue reading

Commencement in Early America: Pausing at the Portal

Columbia College Commencement, 1818This is commencement season in the United States. On weekend mornings, college towns around the country are being beset by billowing clouds of begowned bachelors, trailing various family members and friends in their newly distinguished wakes. University neighborhoods are full of rented trucks and vans. Sidewalks are littered with furniture. People are swarming into auditoriums, sports stadiums, gymnasiums, or (as in the case of some of my Texas cousins) livestock arenas to hear more or less famous people dispense advice for adulthood. And to me, it’s all very, very exciting.

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Pulling a “Butler”: Reflections on “Historiographical Heresy: A Conference on the Legacy of Jon Butler”

Jon ButlerLast saturday, I woke up at an ungodly hour (especially for a weekend!) in order to make the 2 1/2 hour drive down to New Haven in time for the start of “Historiographical Heresy: A Conference on the Legacy of Jon Butler” (program here). The brainchild of James Bennett and Amy Koehlinger, and spearheaded on the ground by Kathryn Lofton, the one-day event commemorated the retirement of one of American religious history’s major figures. All participants were in some way students of Butler–some claimed him as their dissertation adviser, others as one of their committee members, and at least one as just an informal advisor; it was stated that this was more of a “family reunion” than a conference. Though I have zero attachment to Yale and no direct connection to Butler (besides being strongly influenced by his writing), I was warmly welcomed as an outsider and thoroughly enjoyed both the stimulating papers and discussions as well as the comraderie. Continue reading

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