Week 2: Justene Hill Edwards Book Talk

For our first event of Trinity Term 2021, we are excited to welcome Professor Justene Hill Edwards of the University of Virginia. Professor Edwards will be talking about her new book with Columbia University Press, Unfree Markets: The Slaves’ Economy and the Rise of Capitalism in South Carolina.

The book talk will take place on Zoom at 4.30pm BST (London Time) on Wednesday 5th May 2021.

Email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk to join our mailing list and get the Zoom link.

Trinity 2021 Term Card

It is spring in Oxford and things are looking up, not least because we have four varied and fascinating OxEARS seminar presentations to round off the academic year. The OxEARS term begins on Wednesday of 2nd Week with a webinar to celebrate the publication of a new book, Unfree Markets: The Slaves’ Economy and the Rise of Capitalism in South Carolina, by University of Virginia professor Justene Hill Edwards. In 4th Week, we head west with a paper on the Missouri Crisis from legal historian and University of Minnesota professor Aaron Hall. Postgraduate students are always a staple of our speaker list, and in 6th Week we’re fortunate to welcome Alina Scott from UT Austin to discuss Wampanoag women’s petitions in the era of Indian Removal. Our final speaker of this academic year, in 8th Week, will be Professor Frank Garmon of Christopher Newport University, whose paper explores wealth and economic growth in the early republic.

All of our events take place on Wednesdays at 4.30pm London time, which is five hours ahead of New York, six hours ahead of Chicago, and eight hours ahead of San Francisco. We welcome all scholars who are interested in the early American republic, whatever their career stage. Zoom links for every session and pre-circulated papers will go out via our mailing list a few days before. If you are not yet on the mailing list and would like to be, please email Grace Mallon (she/her) at grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk.


Week 2: Wednesday 5th May, 4.30pm BST

Book talk with Justene Hill Edwards (UVA), Unfree Markets: The Slaves’ Economy and the Rise of Capitalism in South Carolina (Columbia University Press, 2021)


Week 4: Wednesday 19th May, 4.30pm BST

Aaron R. Hall (UMN), ‘The Missouri Crisis of Constitutional Authority’ (pre-circulated paper)


Week 6: Wednesday 2nd June, 4.30pm BST

Alina I. Scott (UT Austin), ‘Contextualizing Wampanoag Women’s Petitions in the Era of Removal, 1800-1835’ (presentation – no pre-circulated paper)


Week 8: Wednesday 16th June, 4.30pm BST

Frank W. Garmon (Christopher Newport University), ‘Wealth and Economic Growth in the Early American Republic, 1775-1815’ (pre-circulated paper)

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.