American Studies Seminar

Each year the Society sponsors the American Studies Seminar for a select group of undergraduates from the five four-year colleges and universities in Worcester: Assumption College, Clark University, the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Worcester State College. Over the course of the semester, students will produce a significant research paper on a topic related to the seminar theme and based on research using primary sources such as lithographs, city views, photographs, maps, portraits, newspapers, and letters held in the AAS collections.

Fall 2018
Early American Transgender Studies
with Jen Manion, Amherst College

A revolution in transgender rights in the United States is underway. Once marginalized and denigrated by mainstream society, the medical establishment, the legal system, and even the lesbian and gay rights movement, transgender people are increasingly gaining rights and recognition. This seminar will survey a wide range of transgender practices from the past and explore the intersection between the fields of early American history and transgender studies. Students will work extensively with the American Antiquarian Society archival riches, including newspapers, dime novels, children’s literature, crime fiction, adventure narratives, and reports from carceral institutions. The course will cover key theories of gender from the eighteenth century to the present, including the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, and sexuality. We will explore the methodological issues involved in researching sexual and gender minority communities that predate our contemporary concepts of identity and our rapidly changing terminology. Students will conduct an original research paper based on the archival holdings of the American Antiquarian Society. All-gender, single-user restrooms are readily accessible to the classroom.

Jen Manion is associate professor of history at Amherst College. Jen is author of Liberty's Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) and coeditor of Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (Routledge, 2004). Manion is currently writing a book on the nineteenth-century transgender past.

The Fall 2018 seminar will meet Wednesday afternoons from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM at the American Antiquarian Society, 190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA.

The seminar welcomes applications from students in all disciplines whose academic record, personal statement, and letters of recommendation indicate a commitment to academic excellence, the ability to work independently, and a sincere interest in the seminar’s subject matter.

Eligible students may apply online. Applications are due by April 3.


Previous Seminars

Year Topic Leader
2017 Industrializing Massachusetts: Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester, 1800-1875 Robert Forrant
2016 The Worm in the Apple: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in Early New England Joanne Pope Melish
2015 The North's Civil War: Union and Emancipation Kevin M. Levin
2014 Portraits, Dolls, and Effigies: Humans as Objects in America Caroline Frank
2013 The Nineteenth-Century Networked Nation: The Politics of American Technology, 1776-1876 Daniel Klinghard
2012 Reason, Revival, and Revolution: Religion in America's Founding, 1726-1792 Stephen A. Marini
2011 Dressing Democracy: Clothing and Culture in America Hannah Carlson
2010 History of Sexuality in Early America Sarah Anne Carter
2009 America's Environmental Histories Megan Kate Nelson
2008 "Written by himself... Written by herself" American Life Stories: The Northern United States 1780-1860 Jack Larkin
2007 Captive Histories: Puritan Captivity Narratives and Native Stories from the Era of the Colonial Wars, 1675-1760 Kevin Sweeney
2006 Personal Narratives from the Age of the American Revolution, Or Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times Joseph Cullon
2005 Childhoods, Actual and Imagined: New England, 1790-1860 Jack Larkin
2004 Communication in the Early Nation: Literacy and Print in America, 1750-1840 Catherine A. Corman
2003 Imagining the Civil War: Race, Gender, and Popular Culture, 1860-1877 Carolyn J. Lawes
2002 Private Writings: Their Uses and Value for History and Literature Helen R. Deese
2001 Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture in Early America, 1674-1860 Daniel A. Cohen
2000 Romanticism Confronts History: Literary and Material Culture in the United States, 1820-1876. Harvey Green
1999 The Shaping of Historical Memory: Collecting the Artifacts of America's Past, 1790-1840 Barnes Riznik
1998 Seeing America First: Exploration and Imagination in North America, 1500-1900 Gregory H. Nobles
1997 Accounts of the Self: Autobiography and Personal Narrative in Antebellum America Ann Fabian
1996 Revolutionary Narratives: Memory and Desire in Antebellum America Wayne Franklin
1995 Wilderness Views: Nature as Other, Self, and Enterprise in American Culture c.1776-1900. Janice Simon
1994 Children's Books and Childhood Reading in Early America Samuel F. Pickering, Jr.
1993 The Invention of New England in the Nineteenth Century Dona Brown
1992 Gender in the Nineteenth Century Lee Heller
1991 Slavery and Antislavery in American Civilization, 1820-1861 William W. Freehling
1990 Law and Society in America, 1760-1860 Jonathan M. Chu
1989 Religion in the American Revolution Stephen A. Marini
1988 Health and Health Care in America's Past Philip Cash
1987 The Constitution and the Press, 1787-88: Popular Culture, Political Opinion, and the Ratification Debates Charles E. Clark
1986 The American Landscape John Conron
1985 Antebellum and Civil War Biography Betty Mitchell
1984 The Lethal Imagination: Perceptions of Western Violence in American Thought, 1850-1900 Robert R. Dykstra
1983 Ethnic America Before the Flood: the Irish and Others Charles Fanning
1982 High Culture, Low Culture: Recreation and Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century America Donald M. Scott
1981 Individual, Family, and Community in Eighteenth-Century New England Ross W. Beales
1980 Community Life in Preindustrial Worcester Kenneth Moynihan and Charles Estus
1979 Popular Culture in Preindustrial America, 1650-1850 David Hall
1978 Literature and Society in Jacksonian America: Writers Confront the Marketplace Stephen Nissenbaum

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