J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, July 01, 2017

A Common-place Sampling

The online history magazine Common-place just released a new issue featuring thirteen essays by young scholars on thirteen varied texts from or about early America. Each short essay is accompanied by a link, so it functions as an introduction to that work. Here are the pieces on eighteenth-century material.

Early America’s Guide to Sex: Aristotle’s Masterpiece
Sarah Schuetze
It is not hard to imagine the allure of such a work for readers—modest or otherwise—for it provided a rare detailed discussion of sex.

Poetic Order in Sarah Kemble Knight’s Journal
Kimberly Takahata
By liberating her thoughts from the space of prose and her account from the limitations of physicality, Knight can transform the landscape through her narration, using poetry to “divert” and contain the threat of the unfamiliar.

On Virtue: Phillis Wheatley with Jonathan Edwards
Michael Monescalchi
Wheatley’s saying that her soul touched by Virtue can “guide [her] steps” is thus more than just a metaphor for God’s ability to change a converted person’s life: it is an acknowledgment of the immense power that God’s virtuous character can have over a person’s body and soul.

Samson Occom’s Missionary Correspondence and the Common Pot
Lauren Grewe
Creating a literary genealogy linking Occom and Wheatley could change conceptions of early American Indian and African American writing and missionary work.

America, the “Rebellious Slut”: Gender & Political Cartoons in the American Revolution
Stephanie McKellop
Combining Revolutionary politics with the social and cultural valences of gender, race, class, nation, and power, this political cartoon serves as a multidimensional cipher which people at every knowledge level can participate in analyzing.

Introduction to The History of a French Louse
Julia Dauer
The satire’s narrator is a louse who has lived on a series of heads in and around Paris and been witness to the political maneuverings happening behind the scenes of the American Revolution.

Gallows Respectability
Ajay Kumar Batra
Sentimental reformist oration, fugitive confession, and the personal epistle are all represented in this text [the address of a African-American man named Abraham Johnstone being hanged—unjustly, he says—for murder in 1797].

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