Towards the end of our first year as doctoral students at Oxford in the summer of 2018, we were feeling a little lost. Most of our classmates doing DPhils at the Rothermere American Institute were working on 20th-century American history, and we were envious of the intellectual community that they had been able to build at the Institute. While organisations like BrANCH and BGEAH offered occasional opportunities for us to get together with other students of the early republic, we wanted to create a space where we could meet up more regularly with other historians working in our field, discuss their work, and learn from their intellectual and professional experience. Out of this desire, and with the generous support of the RAI Academic Programme Fund, the Oxford Early American Republic Seminar was born.
The enthusiastic response with which the seminar has been received since its founding has testified to the need for this new space among historians of the early republic in the UK. Over the course of this year, we welcomed speakers not just from the Oxford community, but also from Kent, Reading, Cambridge, and the Institute for Historical Research in London. Historians in Italy and France responded to our calls for papers, and American presenters joined us from the University of Delaware and Yale. We were also able to feature scholars visiting Oxford from the University of Montana and Ave Maria University.
As per our original mission, we focused on PhD students and other junior scholars, including several engaged in the process of preparing their first book for publication. We have also heard presentations from more established scholars, including a retrospective on the Missouri Crisis with Donald Ratcliffe, and a detailed look at slavery and the Constitutional Convention with Nicholas Cole. One of the goals of the seminar is to build on the Rothermere’s interdisciplinary approach to the study of the United States, and we were able to celebrate methodological diversity in the study of the early republic, featuring scholars working in American literature, the new history of capitalism, and digital humanities. In the midst of all this variety, we were grateful for the enthusiastic core audience of regulars who attended nearly every session.
The Rothermere American Institute has generously funded a second year for OxEARS, and we are hopeful that we might be able to establish the seminar as a regular part of the RAI calendar from 2019 onwards. Our next call for papers is coming soon, and we look forward to hearing from—and seeing—all of you again next year.
Once again, for all that has happened, and what is to come, we thank everyone for their effort. Creating and convening this seminar has been a great pleasure and source of satisfaction, and we look forward to another year.
Grace and Stephen