Hilary 2021 Term Card

Welcome back to OxEARS for our spring term lineup! While the year is off to a tumultuous start, and we are facing the coming months with some trepidation, we hope you will join us this Hilary Term to be informed and inspired by some wonderful new scholarship from both sides of the Atlantic, covering an extensive range of topics in the history of the post-Revolutionary and antebellum United States.

At our first session on Wednesday 27th January, we are joined by Ann Daly, a PhD candidate at Brown University, who will be presenting ‘Dollars and Cents: Money, Politics, and the Establishment of the U.S. Mint, 1784-1828.’ Historians of capitalism will find her work to be of particular interest. In 4th Week, Briana Royster joins us from NYU to discuss her paper ‘The Liberating Prospects of British Guiana,’ part of her work on Black missionaries in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and Dutch Guiana. Closer to home, Warwick PhD student Adam Challoner is presenting at our 6th Week session on ‘The Novel Reading Disease and the Democratisation of American Nationalism’ – the more literary members of our community are warmly encouraged to attend. At our last meeting of the term, on Wednesday 10th March, Aisha Djelid joins us from Reading to present her paper on ‘Forced Reproduction in the Antebellum South, 1808-1865.’

Our events are generally held every other Wednesday in term at 4.30pm GMT/BST, but please note that in Week 4 (Wednesday 10th February), we will be meeting at 2.30pm GMT. All of our events this academic year will be held on Zoom. Links to the meetings will be sent out via our mailing list, as will pre-circulated papers. To be added to the list, please email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk.


Week 2: Wednesday 27th January, 4.30pm GMT

Ann Daly (Brown University), ‘Dollars and Cents: Money, Politics, and the Establishment of the U.S. Mint, 1784-1828’


Week 4: Wednesday 10th February, 2.30pm GMT

Briana Royster (NYU), ‘The Liberating Prospects of British Guiana’


Week 6: Wednesday 24th February, 4.30pm GMT

Adam Challoner (Warwick), ‘”No Class or Age Escapes It”: The Novel Reading Disease and the Democratisation of American Nationalism’


Week 8: Wednesday 10th March, 4.30pm GMT

Aisha Djelid (Reading), ‘”Dey jus’ puts a man and breedin’ woman together like mules”: Forced Reproduction in the Antebellum South, 1808-1865′

Michaelmas Term, Week 2: Evan Turiano, ‘The Law Must Rule Us’

Next Wednesday, 21st October, at 4.30pm BST, the OxEARS year begins with a discussion of Evan Turiano’s pre-circulated paper ‘”The Law Must Rule Us:” Somerset and the Limits of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law.’ The talk will take place via Zoom (link to follow shortly over the mailing list). If you would like to join the seminar but are not yet on our mailing list, please email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk and request a copy of the paper.


The legal history of fugitives from slavery in the United States, in one sense, began in 1787. The Northwest Ordinance’s fugitive slave clause provided the foundation of the Constitution’s, which became the basis of the first federal fugitive slave law in 1793. Slaveholders won power in 1787 and 1793. If one begins there, the proslavery outcomes are whole story. A longer view, however, reveals that 1787 and 1793 were already the products of legal and political conflicts over the rights of Black people and the future of slavery.

This chapter examines the origins of the political conflict over the legal rights of accused fugitive slaves. The fight over fugitives from slavery in the Revolutionary era was defined by the collision of two legal trends: (1) the proslavery effort to sequester Black people as far as possible from legal rights in order to secure a coherent property right over them, and (2) the struggle by Black people and their allies to secure freedom and rights through those same legal channels. An examination of the eighteenth-century origins of the struggle over the legal rights of accused fugitives will clarify how the struggle that enslaved people forced into formal politics by escaping bondage came to play a central role in the coming of the Civil War.


Evan Turiano is a PhD Candidate in History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at LaGuardia Community College. His dissertation, “Running toward Abolition: Fugitive Slaves, Legal Rights, and the Coming of the Civil War,” examines the political conflict over the legal rights of accused fugitive slaves from before the Revolution through the onset of the Civil War. He’s received fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Nau Center for Civil War History, and the Colonial Dames of America.

Michaelmas 2020 Term Card

When we started OxEARS back in 2018, we had a couple of major goals in mind. The first was to share our space – the city of Oxford, and our intellectual home at the Rothermere American Institute – with a host of likeminded scholars who, like us, were just starting out on their academic careers. The second and most important goal, however, was to learn. Feeling adrift in a sea of Things We Should Have Read and Questions We Should Have Thought About, we decided to invite a range of budding experts with different interests to bring their knowledge to us and, by extension, our community.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced us to take a rain check on our first aim. Sad as it is not to be able to share a formal dinner or an informal pint with our colleagues from out of town, however, our new remote model has encouraged us to refocus on that second, essential aim: building a solid base of learning about the key issues in our field. Over the course of twelve sessions, this year’s speakers will explore themes and problems central to the historiography of the early republic today, from money to markets to material culture, via constitutionalism, nationalism, racism, and imperialism. Across the 2020-21 series, we will discuss historical figures as diverse as elite white novel-readers, Indigenous women petitioners in New England, and African American emigrants to the British Empire. We are pleased to welcome presenters and, we hope, audiences from a broad range of institutions across the United Kingdom and the United States to contribute to these conversations.

Our first speaker of the year will be Evan Turiano (a former convenor of our sister seminar, CUNY EARS) with a paper on the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law and the American response to Mansfield’s Somerset ruling. The day after the presidential election, November 4, Evelyn Strope will join us from Cambridge to talk nationalism and material culture during the War of 1812. We then return to the foundational intersection of race and the law with Derek Litvak’s paper on ‘Anti-Blackness and the Creation of U.S. Citizenship,’ and finish up the term with archivist Jennifer McGillan, who will explore the making and uses of archival collections from the early Mississippi frontier.

Throughout the year, our events will be held every other Wednesday in term at 4.30pm GMT/BST. (For those joining us from other timezones, daylight savings may begin and end on different days in different regions, so please do check the time difference in advance.)

All of our events this academic year will be held on Zoom. Links to the meetings will be sent out via our mailing list, as will pre-circulated papers. To be added to the list, please email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk.


Week 2: Wednesday 21st October, 4.30pm BST

Evan Turiano (The Graduate Center, CUNY), ‘”The Law Must Rule Us:” Somerset and the Limits of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law’

Evan Turiano is a PhD Candidate in History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at LaGuardia Community College. His dissertation, “Running toward Abolition: Fugitive Slaves, Legal Rights, and the Coming of the Civil War,” examines the political conflict over the legal rights of accused fugitive slaves from before the Revolution through the onset of the Civil War. He’s received fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Nau Center for Civil War History, and the Colonial Dames of America.


Week 4: Wednesday 4th November, 4.30pm GMT

Evelyn Strope (Cambridge), ‘Naval Nationalism: The Material Culture of the War of 1812’

Evelyn Strope is a PhD Candidate in American History at Newnham College, Cambridge. She holds an MPhil in American History from Cambridge and a BA in History from the College of William & Mary, where she was part of the NIAHD Collegiate Program in Early American History, Material Culture, and Museum Studies. Her broader research interests include the politics of consumption, material culture, and race, class, and gender in early America. Her doctoral thesis, entitled “The Politics of Material Culture in the Early Republic, 1800-1815,” has been generously supported by Newnham College, the Cambridge Faculty of History, the Cambridge Trust, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the American Philosophical Society.


Week 6: Wednesday 18th November, 4.30pm GMT

Derek Litvak (UMD, College Park), ‘A Peculiar Status: Anti-Blackness and the Creation of U.S. Citizenship’

Derek Litvak is a history Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland – College Park. He received his B.A. in history from Virginia Tech in 2016. Derek studies constitutional history, race, and slavery in the American Revolution and Early National periods. His dissertation is entitled The Specter of Black Citizens: Race, Slavery, and Citizenship in the Early United States. By using court cases, legislative debates, newspaper articles, and cultural sources, Derek argues citizenship was defined in opposition to free and enslaved Black Americans, who were purposefully excluded from citizenship at its inception, in a move that helped create a more homogenous (white) national identity and strengthened slavery’s hold on the nation.


Week 8: Wednesday 2nd December, 4.30pm GMT

Jennifer McGillan (Mississippi State University Libraries), ‘Writing Home: Dispatches from the Mississippi Frontier’

Jennifer McGillan has been the Coordinator of Manuscripts at Mississippi State University since 2015. She has previously worked at Columbia University Medical Center Archives, the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest (now the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey), and Susquehanna University. She has a BA in English from Davidson College (1997), an MLIS-Archives from the University of Pittsburgh (2003), and a JD from New York Law School (2012). Her research interests include handwriting and human communication; community cookbooks and food history; 19th c. legal history; genealogy; and pirates.

Call for Papers 2020-21

Back in March 2020, with events dropping like flies from university calendars everywhere in the face of the global pandemic, we at OxEARS decided to enter the brave new world of remote seminar participation. We hope it will not seem an exaggeration to say that our move online has been a roaring success. With the opportunity to welcome experts not just from Oxford, not just from the UK, but from all around the world, the seminar has gained a new lease of life as a forum for scholarly exchange. Going into the academic year 2020-21, therefore, we will be continuing with this approach amidst the ongoing uncertainty about the safety of face-to-face meetings. Although it is a shame not to be able to invite our presenters and guests to the Turf Tavern or the King’s Arms after a meeting, the advantage of being joined by participants in London, Edinburgh, Turin, or Charlottesville makes a pint seem a small price to pay.

The conversation around racial justice in the historical profession, the academy, and society at large is not a new conversation, but it is one that many of us had been tuning out until the events of this summer, especially in privileged institutions like the University of Oxford. In an email sent out to subscribers in June, we at OxEARS recognized our poor record on racial diversity among speakers, and since then, we have begun to put in the work necessary to make the seminar a more welcoming space for scholars of colour. One of the steps we have taken is to personally invite a small group of speakers to join the programme for this year, with a particular focus on scholars from underrepresented groups. We have also had to rearrange some presentations from speakers who were not able to join us in the academic year 2019-20 due to COVID-19.

Nonetheless, one of the special aspects of our seminar has been that it does not rely on an insiders’ network to find speakers. Every year, we have put out a call for papers, which has allowed scholars previously unknown to us to find us, share their work, and enrich our community. This year will be no different.

We therefore invite scholars whose work is on the early American republic – loosely defined as the period 1776-1861 – to submit proposals to present at this year’s seminar series. The seminar has no specific focus beyond this chronological bracket, and we would be glad to hear from historians, economic historians, literary scholars, political scientists, and practitioners in a variety of other academic fields. The specific mission of OxEARS is to provide a platform for graduate students and early career researchers, so we especially welcome submissions from scholars who find themselves between the milestones of beginning postgraduate study and publishing a first book. We have also, on occasion, accepted proposals from more senior academics.

Most importantly, we are committed to sharing our platform with members of underrepresented groups, including women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of colour. We strongly encourage members of those groups to submit proposals.

Submissions should consist of a paper title, a 250-word abstract of the proposed paper, and a 100-word bio. We are open to pre-circulated chapters and conference-style presentations – proposals should indicate which format the presenter would prefer. Presenters should bear in mind that OxEARS meets on Wednesdays at 4.30pm GMT/BST (usually 11.30am EST/EDT). The available speaking slots for 2020-21 are:

  • October 21
  • December 2
  • February 10
  • February 24
  • May 19
  • June 2
  • June 16

Presenters should indicate which slot(s) might work for them.

The deadline for proposals will be Monday 14 September 2020 at 5pm BST. Submissions should be emailed to grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk. Anyone who submits a proposal will be notified within two weeks as to whether their proposal has been accepted.

 

An OxEARS Conversation: The American Nineteenth Century and Legacies of White Supremacy

In response to the widespread protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, we at OxEARS have decided, with the support of the Rothermere American Institute, to add an event to our term card. Though the event has been organized at very short notice and will thus take on a somewhat informal character, ‘An OxEARS Conversation’ will do what the seminar does best: give our network of historians of the early republic a space to discuss the work they do and to learn from each other.

In a slight change from our usual programming, we the organizers have specially invited three former speakers to present a panel on different aspects of the historical context surrounding white supremacy, racism, and Black lives in the United States. The historians we have invited will provide a diverse array of historical and personal perspectives on this era-defining moment of protest.

  • Kariann Akemi Yokota is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Denver. She is the author of Unbecoming British, among other publications on the topics of immigration and ethnicity.
  • Adam McNeil is a PhD student at Rutgers University, where he is writing about the experiences of Black fugitive women during the eighteenth century and specifically the American Revolutionary era. Adam is also a regular contributor to the academic blogs Black Perspectives and The Junto, and plays a major role in interviewing scholars and writers for New Books in African American Studies.
  • Nicholas Cole is a Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College and director of the Quill Project. His work encompasses classical reception, law, and constitutionalism in the revolutionary and early national United States.

The panel will be followed by a Q&A session.

We hope you will join us at 4.30pm on Wednesday 10th June via Zoom. Details will reach you over the mailing list in advance of the session.