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.

Trinity 2020 Term Card

Seminars may be the last thing on our minds at the moment, but we have decided to run OxEARS remotely this term as an opportunity to learn, share, and keep in touch with recent developments in our field despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We hope our friends and colleagues around the world will consider joining us every other Wednesday at 4.30pm BST to hear from our fantastic speakers, whose dates, topics, and biographies are laid out below. We are very pleased to have been able to reschedule Lawrence Hatter (Washington State) and Nicholas Cole (Oxford), whose sessions were cancelled last term due to the strike action, alongside Alys Beverton, who joins us from Oxford Brookes to talk about Confederate foreign policy, and Kelly Sharp (Luther College), who is presenting research from her book project on food, race, and labour in antebellum Charleston.

The link to join the seminar will be sent out via our mailing list on the day of the meeting. If you are not yet signed up, please email grace.mallon@univ.ox.ac.uk.

Week 2: Wednesday 6th May, 4.30pm

Lawrence Hatter (Washington State), ‘The Past Isn’t Past: An Indigenous History of the U.S.-Canadian Border’

Dr Hatter received his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2011, and is the author of Citizens of Convenience: The Imperial Origins of American Nationhood on the U.S.-Canadian Border (University of Virginia Press, 2016).

Week 4: Wednesday 20th May, 4.30pm

Nicholas Cole (Oxford), ‘Impeachment at the Founding’

Dr Cole is a Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford, and director of the Quill Project, a digital project exploring the creation of constitutions and other negotiated texts through formal parliamentary processes. 

Week 6: Wednesday 3rd June, 4.30pm

Alys Beverton (Oxford Brookes), ‘”Damn The Yankee Imperialists”: Reconsidering Confederates’ Hemispheric Visions during the U.S. Civil War’

Dr Beverton recently received her PhD from University College London, where she wrote about the relationship between the United States and Mexico during and after the American Civil War. She is now a lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.

Week 8: Wednesday 17th June, 4.30pm

Kelly Sharp (Luther College), ‘Bowls and the Meaning of Race: Dining in Antebellum Charleston’

Dr Sharp is assistant professor of Africana Studies and History at Luther College. Her manuscript, under contract with Cambridge University Press, is tentatively titled Provisioning Charleston: Food, Race, and Labor in the Antebellum Lowcountry. She has an article forthcoming in Agricultural History (summer 2020) on African-American contributions to the Lowcountry’s postbellum truck farming industry.

UCU Strikes, February-March 2020

Due to the upcoming industrial action scheduled for Wednesday 26th February and Wednesday 11th March, we have decided to cancel the Week 6 and Week 8 seminars which were due to take place on those dates. We will publish a new term card in April and hope to see you all at our Trinity Term events.