Call for Papers 2021-22

Moving OxEARS into an online format in the spring of 2020 had its drawbacks. It was a wrench to know that we could not meet in person, talk further about papers over an informal drink after the seminar, or show visitors around our home city of Oxford. As it turned out, though, our year of online seminars also brought unexpected advantages that in many ways made up for the extra screen time. The move to Zoom allowed us to invite speakers and attract audiences who might never have been able to join us under different circumstances. Not only did the remote format facilitate greater engagement with the scholarly community in the United States, but it also made it easier for historians in different parts of the United Kingdom to learn about each other’s work. Despite the huge setbacks of the pandemic year, OxEARS 2020-21 provided twelve fun and intellectually fruitful seminars, and a bigger audience than ever before.

As we approach the 2021-22 academic year, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis has not abated, and the safety of meeting in person may continue to vary across time and place as we struggle to control the variants. For this reason, OxEARS will continue in an online format for the coming academic year, with the option of a hybrid format where speakers would prefer it and where circumstances permit. Since travel is no longer a barrier, we will be able to welcome scholars from around the world to participate in the seminar.

We 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, art 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.

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 recently, especially in privileged institutions like the University of Oxford. In an email sent out to subscribers in June 2020, we at OxEARS recognized our poor record on racial diversity among speakers, and in the last year, we have begun to put in the work necessary to make the seminar a more welcoming space for scholars of colour. We are committed to sharing our platform with members of underrepresented groups, including women and nonbinary people, 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 both to pre-circulated chapters and to conference-style presentations – proposals should indicate which format the presenter would prefer. Presenters should bear in mind that OxEARS meets on Wednesdays at 4pm GMT/BST (usually 11am EST/EDT). The available speaking slots for 2021-22 are:

  • October 20
  • November 3
  • November 17
  • December 1
  • February 9
  • May 18
  • June 1
  • June 15

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

The deadline for proposals will be Monday 6 September 2021 at 5pm BST. Submissions should be emailed to Anyone who submits a proposal will be notified within two weeks as to whether their proposal has been accepted.

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 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

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

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 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.