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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Thursday, May 02, 2019

S.H.E.A.R. Comes to Cambridge, 18-21 July

On 18-21 July, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic will have its annual meeting in Cambridge.

S.H.E.A.R. was founded in 1977 as “an association of scholars dedicated to exploring events and meanings of United States history between 1776 and 1861.” Or, as one of the founders put it, “the group between the William and Mary Quarterly and Civil War History.”

Anyone who studies “the long eighteenth century” knows the natural pressure to stretch chronological boundaries. Furthermore, while the Omohundro Institute’s conferences and journal cover colonial and Revolutionary America, it doesn’t function as an academic society affiliated with the American Historical Association. The only such society covering the period that includes the Revolution is the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and that emphasizes the interdisciplinary study of the culture of the “long eighteenth.”

As a result, the S.H.E.A.R. conference now tends to extend over the Revolutionary period. The titles of papers at this conference show they span the period of 1750 to 1874 at least. Look through the conference program (P.D.F. download) booklet for information about all the paper sessions, panel discussions, and keynote talks.

Here are some of the paper and session titles that caught my eye:
  • “Angelica Church and Caesar’s Daughter: Family and Faction in Federalist New York,” Tom Cutterham
  • “’Independence within Independence’: The Vermont Republic in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” Jacqueline Reynoso
  • “Death, Resistance, and Public Order: State Reactions to Slave Suicide in Eighteenth-Century New York,” Sarah Pearlman Shapiro
  • “The Rise and Fall of the American Fop: From John Adams to Washington [Irving?],” Irving Eran Zelnik
  • “The Modernity and Morality of the American Revolution and Early Republic as Displayed by Gouverneur Morris in France,” Emilie Mitran
  • “‘Government of the Slaves’: Recaptured Black Loyalists and the Birth of the Virginian State at the Chiswell Lead Mines, 1775-1785,” Sean Gallagher
  • “‘Out of the Jawbones of Scotch Grampius’: Scottish Merchants and Personal Identities and Personal Identities in Revolutionary North Carolina, c. 1770-1780,” Kimberly Sherman
  • “North American Quiet, West Indian Storm: The Constitutional Politics and Legacy of the Somerset Decision,” Matthew Mason
  • ”Tenacious American Indian Women: Thwarting Federal Treaty Policies and Dispossession Along the Wabash in the 1790s,” Susan Sleeper-Smith
  • “The Mother Of: Memorializing Mary Washington in Antebellum Virginia,” Kate Haulman
  • “Servants of General Washington?: Free Blacks and the Power of Imagined Social Capital,” Cassandra Good
  • “Jefferson Matters: Situating and Eighteenth-Century Founder in Twenty-First-Century America,” Annette Gordon-Reed
  • “Benjamin Rush and the Enlightenment Critique of Habit,” Joseph M. Gabriel
  • “Benjamin Banneker: Avid Astronomer, Ambivalent Abolitionist,” Eric Herschthal
Plus, there are roundtable discussions on “New Directions of Military History in the Early Republic,” “Telling the Republic’s Founding Story in Its Moment of Peril,” and “The Culture of Confederation: How Did the 1780s Make America?” Not to mention a whole three-paper session on “Vampirism, Healing, and Consumption in the Early National Era.”

Registration for the four-day conference costs $78 for members of professorial rank, $114 for non-members, and $52 for graduate students, independent scholars, and the like.

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