American Antiquarian Society Seminars in association with the history departments of
Brown University, Clark University and the University of Connecticut
- Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 5:00 p.m., at AAS
Maria Alessandra Bollettino (Assistant Professor of History, Framingham State University)
The British Empire’s “Sable Arm”: Black Combatants in the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Caribbean and Postwar Antislavery
PRÉCIS: This talk will examine enslaved and free Blacks’ martial contributions to Britain’s West Indian expeditions against France and Spain during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). It will contend that people of African descent played an integral role in these expeditions – a role that was increasingly embraced and expanded by British imperial and military officials and one that was seized upon by postwar antislavery authors to assert that Blacks would better serve the empire as free subjects than as slaves. This talk will maintain, however, that few enslaved and free black men who allied with the colonial order in hope of freedom and social advancement gained such valuable perquisites from their military service. Indeed, imperial and military officials’ growing conviction that Blacks were better suited to warfare in tropical climates than Europeans contributed to the hardening of conceptions of race in the British Atlantic world.
There will be refreshments before the paper, starting at 5:00 PM; the talk will be followed by a dutch-treat dinner in Worcester. If you plan to attend, please notify Paul Erickson at AAS (email@example.com) no later than Monday, April 28. Directions to AAS
- Tuesday, May 13, 2014, at 4:00 p.m., at Barker Room in Carr House, 70 Brown Street, Brown University Campus, Providence
Tom Augst (Associate Professor of English, NYU)
Accounting for Character: Media, Performance, and the Popular Culture of Temperance in Nineteenth-Century America
- Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 5:00 p.m., at AAS
Jonathan Senchyne (Assistant Professor of Library and Information Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
- Tuesday, October 29, 2013, at 5:00 p.m., at AAS
Nadine Knight (Assistant Professor of English, College of the Holy Cross)
'A Vast Holiday Frolic': Sherman's March as Vacation
PRÉCIS: Though General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" is popularly remembered as a near-demonic act of destruction, Sherman and his soldiers viewed the campaign as a vacation from the Civil War. In their diaries, memoirs, and regimental histories, the soldiers recalled viewing sights of interest, trying new foods, and even touring local landmarks. In short, these soldiers imagined themselves as civilian--and civilized--tourists across the remaining heart of the South. "A Vast Holiday Frolic" examines the ways in which General Sherman's soldiers revised their own memories of the march to the sea and through the Carolinas. Their controversial campaign challenged traditional means of combat; their writings about campaign continue to challenge our expectations of what constitutes traditional military narratives and reveal how easily the military conflates war and tourism.
- Monday, November 18, 2013, at 5:00 p.m., at AAS
Sean Moore (Associate Professor of English, University of New Hampshire)
The Redwood Receipt Books and Newport Businessmen: A Bio-bibliographical Inquiry into the Borrowing Records of Early America's Premier Slave-Trading Port
PRÉCIS: Rarely do scholars find evidence of the reception of works, but the Redwood Library’s receipt books from eighteenth-century Newport, Rhode Island present the opportunity to do a bio-bibliographical analysis of some of the Redwood’s readers and perhaps move us towards an understanding of readers’ tastes. The surviving receipt books are records of what books were borrowed from the library during a five year period from 1756-1761, and were kept by Ezra Stiles, the librarian of the Redwood and future president of Yale University. These printed forms list three blanks per page, and are filled in cursive handwriting with the title of the book, the cash deposit to borrow it, the name of the borrower, and the librarian’s signature. Most of the names have been torn out of them, the custom at the time being to tear out the name of the borrower after the book was returned. Whether this was done to protect the privacy of readers is an open question, but the important thing for my research is that many of the names were not torn out, or at least not completely. This evidence of who was reading what books is not only of interest to book history, however, but also provides the chance to do what D.F. McKenzie and Jerome McGann described as a “sociology” of the text that considers the possible motives of the readers who were wealthy enough to pay the deposit on a book within what some historians have called early America’s premier slave shipping port. This paper, accordingly, will explore the role of the philanthropy of slave traders and owners in financing the library’s collection and argue that the receipt books give us insight into the financial interests of readers and the possible reasons why they might have been borrowing particular books.
- Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 5:00 p.m., at Clark
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (Professor of English, Northeastern University)
Literary Mappings: GIS, the Slave Narrative, and Atlantic World Space
- Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 5:00 p.m., at History Department Lounge, Wood Hall, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Sari Altschuler (Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Florida and 2013-14 Hench Post-Dissertation Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society)
From Empathy to Epistemology: Robert Montgomery Bird and the Future of the Medical Humanities
PRÉCIS: As recently as the mid-nineteenth century, disciplinary exchange was much more porous; literature could and did contribute to medical knowledge. This talk returns to Dr. Robert Montgomery Bird's 1836 novel Sheppard Lee: Written by Himself to illustrate how literature and medicine once collaborated on ideas about the American body. In foregrounding the medical work of Bird's fiction, this essay offers a historical perspective for current attempts in narrative medicine and the medical humanities and also uses that history to advocate for new medical epistemology.
- Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at 5:00 p.m., at AAS
Steven C. Bullock (Professor of History, WPI)
Revolutionary Passages: The dissolution of the Politics of Politeness
PRÉCIS: Although politics and politeness seem quite distinct today, America's eighteenth-century leaders saw things differently. A powerful tradition stretching from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution considered polished self-presentation crucial to exercising power, winning consent, and even limiting authoritarian rule. This paper considers the end of that vision, the dissolution of the connection between government and gentility in the Revolutionary years, through an examination of a range of evidence including Jefferson's critique of slavery and the Adams' discussion of women's rights.