Friday, September 11, 2015

New McNeil Center Fellows Announced

Congratulations to all the new fellows!

I hope Dan Richter's doesn't mind me stealing this from the McNeil Center of Early American Studies Facebook page:

I am delighted to introduce the new class of fellows at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

Setting the tone for this year's large and varied cohort is new two-year Barra Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Ellis, who has just completed her degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her book in progress, "The Many Ties of the Petites Nations: Relationships, Power, and Diplomacy in the Lower Mississippi Valley 1685-1785," reveals the continental and imperial roles of people whose influence was anything but petite and whose homelands were anything but peripheral to the development of early America.

Ties to and from the same region run through the work of Friends of the MCEAS Dissertation Fellow Jessica Blake, from the University of California, Davis. In "Caribbean Taste, Production, and Regionalism in Early Republic New Orleans," Jessica studies the intersections of trade, fashion, and race in trade between the lower Mississippi and Haiti. The more familiar early nineteenth-century interregional commerce of New Orleans--the domestic traffic in enslaved people--becomes far less familiar in the hands of Advisory Council Fellow Alexandra Finley, who places women at the heart of her William and Mary dissertation, "Blood Money: Sex, Family, and Finance in the Antebellum Slave Trade."

Alex, Jessica, and many other fellows will benefit from the cartographic expertise of Coordinator of Academic Programs Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, whose book project charts efforts to map the Mississippi in the era of the early republic. Joining her in a cartographical cluster are Barra Dissertation Fellows Nicholas Gliserman from the University of Southern California and Elizabeth Eager from Harvard University, along with Consortium Dissertation Fellow Rachel Walker, from the University of Maryland. Nick maps wars in "Landscapes of Conflict: Cartography and Empire in Northeastern America, 1685–1713," Elizabeth maps mechanisms in "Drawing Machines: The Mechanics of Art in the Early Republic," and Rachel maps bodies in "A Beautiful Mind: Reading Faces in the Anglo-Atlantic World, 1760-1860."

Maps of physiognomy merge with narratives of psychology through the disturbing work of two Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Fellows from the Penn English Department: Don James McLaughlin, in "Touching Phobia: Viral Affect and the Medicalization of Fear in Anglo-American Literature, 1786-1885," and Laura Soderberg, in "Vicious Infants: Antisocial Childhoods and the Politics of Population in the Antebellum United States." Only Laura's writers could make the childhoods examined in the work of returning Barra Postdoctoral Fellow Sarah L.H. Gronningsater seem pleasant.

Sarah, in her SHEAR-Dissertation-Prize-winning "Delivering Freedom: Gradual Emancipation, Black Legal Culture, and the Origins of Sectional Crisis in New York, 1759-1870," follows the remarkable careers of young people who grew up under not-exactly-free emancipation to become not-exactly-complacent adult antislavery activists. Some of those adults no doubt lived in the long-forgotten African American community studied by Friends of the MCEAS Fellow Alex Manevitz, whose NYU dissertation is called "The Rise and Fall of Seneca Village and the Politics of Free Space in Antebellum New York City." Enslaved space, by contrast, is the subject of "'To Go to Nature's Manufactory': The Ecology of Slavery in Antebellum Baltimore County, Maryland," by the University of Maryland's Tony Perry, another Friends of the MCEAS Fellow.

No one more effectively imagined the liberation of enslaved space than the subject of a book in progress by Barra Sabbatical Fellow Dee E. Andrews, who, after a long absence, returns to the McNeil Center from her position on the faculty of California State University, East Bay. In "Thomas Clarkson, Author, and the Age of Abolition," she stresses "the unstoppable force of antislavery 'author-work' in the Atlantic World." A quartet of fellows joins Dee in tracing author-work through varied genres. Supported by the China Scholarship Council, Chen Zhihong of Tsinghua University illumines "Enlightenment, Elites, and Interaction: David Hume and the Founding Fathers in the Scottish Enlightenment and American Revolution." Consortium Fellow Lauren Kimball scans poets in her Rutgers dissertation, "Re-Versing the American Renaissance." Andrew W. Mellon Early American Literature and Material Texts Initiative Fellows Daniel Diez Couch (UCLA) and Andrew Inchiosa (University of Chicago) pick through, respectively, "The Imperfect Form: Literary Fragments and Politics in the Early Republic," and pieces "Found among the Papers of the Early Republic."

Many of Andrew's papers deal with the subjects of dissertations by a duo of fellows with dual appointments. Christopher Jones (William and Mary), Carpenter Fellow in Early American Religious Studies and Friends of the MCEAS Fellow, unravels "Religion and Revolution in the Atlantic World: Methodism in North America and the Caribbean." Rachel Engl (Lehigh), Society of the Cincinnati Fellow and Consortium Dissertation Fellow, disentangles more secular ties in "America's First Band of Brothers: Friendship, Camaraderie, and Collusion within the Continental Army during the Revolutionary Era."

The Atlantic empire that the revolution transformed and the continental one it unleashed are the obsessions of a final band of scholarly siblings. Richard S. Dunn Fellow Gabriel Rocha of NYU. takes us back to beginnings in "Sustaining Conquest: Island Colonies in the Atlantic Commons, 1480-1620." Hamer Fellow Lori Daggar of Penn transforms commons into private property in "Cultivating Empire: Native Nations, Quaker Missionaries, and the Negotiation of American Imperialism, 1754-1846." Consortium Fellow Thomas Richards of Temple University moves farther west in "The Texas Moment: Breakaway Republics and Contested Sovereignty in North America, 1836-1846." Returning SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow Maxime Dagenais turns north in his cross-border study of the Canadian Patriote movement of the 1830s. Tying all together in his role as Brown Bag Works-in-Progress series coordinator and mapper of North American imperialism is Penn's Kevin Waite, whose dissertation returns to New Orleans and the country of the Petite Nations to seek the origins of "The Slave South in the Far West: California, the Pacific, and Proslavery Visions of Empire."

Please join, Interium EAS editor Elaine Forman Crane, Associate Director Amy Baxter-Bellamy, Administrative Assistant Barbara Natello, and me in welcoming these fine scholars to our community. It should be an exciting year!

Daniel K. Richter
The Richard S. Dunn Director