Research seminars--conversations with one or more presenters that usually focus on a precirculated paper--take place between late September and early May. Programs are offered in five different series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender, and the New England Biography Seminar. Learn more about each series and subscribe to receive advance copies of the papers that will be discussed.

 

RSVP required. Please email seminars@masshist.org or phone 617-646-0568.

September

Immigration and Urban History Seminar Cuban Immigration and Exceptionalism: The Long Cold War 29 September 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Susan Eckstein, Boston University Comment: Christine Thurlow Brenner, University of Massachusetts—Boston For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During ...

For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During the Cold War, policy-makers extended far more refugee benefits and immigrant privileges to Cubans than to persons seeking refuge from other Communist regimes, and this exceptionalism has continued to this day. This presentation will focus on the complex roots of these benefits and the likely reform in Cuban immigration policy.

Note that this session only will begin with a light supper at 5:15 PM, and the program will follow at 6:00 PM.

More
October
Early American History Seminar Copley’s Cato or, The Art of Slavery in the Age of British Liberty 6 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jane Kamensky, Harvard University Comment: David L. Waldstreicher, Graduate Center, CUNY These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color,  ...

These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color, pull at a knotty thread in Copley’s biography as it did through his world: the tangle of slavery and liberty. We follow the artist as he became, like many in his place and time, an owner of men and women. Shortly thereafter, the painter pioneered images that revolutionized the portrayal of people of African descent in Western art. Our discussion will explore the seeming contradiction between the roles bondspeople played in Copley’s American household and upon his epic British canvases.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Capitalism, Carceral Culture, and the Domestication of Working Women in the Early American City 8 October 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Schlesinger Library Jen Manion, Connecticut College Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both ...

Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both manufacturing and punishment in the nascent years of industrial capitalism. Arrest and imprisonment was an occupational hazard for hucksters, sex workers, and tippling house operators, while the penitentiary imposed ideals of femininity defined by whiteness, domesticity, and submission on the poor working women behind its walls.

More
Environmental History Seminar How Rachel Carson Became a Revolutionary: Environmental Politics and the Public Sphere 13 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required David Hecht, Bowdoin College Comment: Chris Bosso, Northeastern University Silent Spring is generally considered a foundational text of the modern environmental ...

Silent Spring is generally considered a foundational text of the modern environmental movement. However, this paper contends that Rachel Carson’s legacy is more mixed than the historical memory about her allows. This essay considers the surprisingly varied reception of Silent Spring over the last five decades. Ultimately, it argues, that assessment that Carson's work was revolutionary reflects the vicissitudes of environmental politics as much as anything intrinsic to the book itself.

More
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Immigration, Race and the Tea Party Movement 27 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Luis Jiménez, University of Massachusetts—Boston Comment: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? ...

To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? Previous literature, ethnographic work and anecdotal evidence point to a complex mythology of taxpayers versus freeloaders that appears to not have any empirical basis, but rather rests on racial cues. This paper tests these hypotheses through a number of measures at different levels--state, congressional, and county units. It finds that tea party behavior was more pronounced in states, districts or counties with disproportionate numbers of Latinos, or people perceived as an immigrant other.

More
November
Early American History Seminar Peter Faneuil’s World: The Huguenot International and New England, 1682-1742 3 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Owen Stanwood, Boston College Comment: Wim Klooster, Clark University Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city ...

Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city's most famous buildings. Fewer know about the context of the family's migration to New England. The Faneuils were just one of the many Huguenot families to settle in the region, and their story demonstrates that Boston was not an isolated Puritan bastion, but an important node in an interconnected Protestant Atlantic world.

More
Environmental History Seminar André Michaux and the Many Politics of Trees in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World 10 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Elizabeth Hyde, Kean University Comment: Joseph Cullon, MIT In 1785, French botanist André Michaux was dispatched to the United States to study and ...

In 1785, French botanist André Michaux was dispatched to the United States to study and collect North American specimens in an attempt to find trees that could replenish French forests. This essay offers a new analysis of Michaux’s mission in the context of the geo-political and diplomatic circumstances of his day. It demonstrates the importance of having botanical knowledge of a realm, and the value of a scientist who could navigate and communicate such information.

More
Biography Seminar Writing with Giants: Making the Human Larger than Life 12 November 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP   John Stauffer, Harvard University Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64 Civil War biographer Carol Bundy talks with John Stauffer, a leading historian of the antislavery ...

Civil War biographer Carol Bundy talks with John Stauffer, a leading historian of the antislavery movement and the Civil War, about his upcoming biography of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, whose moral stand on slavery led to his being beaten on the Senate floor. Writing about Charles Sumner, a complicated man whose life didn’t neatly conform to expectations both in the public and the private sphere, raises all sorts of questions about the uses of biography and the biographical approach to unveil the moral dimension of social change. Stauffer is the author of over a dozen books including Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.


New England Biography Seminar series information

More
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “A barbarous practice that would not be permitted in other civilized countries”: The Evolution and Enduring Presence of the African Dodger Game at Boston-Area Amusement Venues 24 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Mark Herlihy, Endicott College Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts—Boston This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which ...

This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which patrons paid a nickel for a chance to throw a ball at the head of an African American male. The game’s popularity suggests the ways in which leisure venues and special events could strengthen white working- and middle-class identity and reinforce racial hierarchies.

More
December
Early American History Seminar Faces, Beauty, and Brains: Physiognomy and Female Education in Post-Revolutionary America 1 December 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Rachel Walker, University of Maryland Comment: Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science&rdquo ...

This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science” of interpreting facial features—to distinguish between the minds of men and women. The work examines diaries of several “female physiognomists” who focused on evaluating the intellectual capacities of other educated women. Ultimately, the research traces how different groups of individuals used physiognomy to make sense of human nature.

More
More events
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Cuban Immigration and Exceptionalism: The Long Cold War Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
29 September 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Susan Eckstein, Boston University Comment: Christine Thurlow Brenner, University of Massachusetts—Boston

For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During the Cold War, policy-makers extended far more refugee benefits and immigrant privileges to Cubans than to persons seeking refuge from other Communist regimes, and this exceptionalism has continued to this day. This presentation will focus on the complex roots of these benefits and the likely reform in Cuban immigration policy.

Note that this session only will begin with a light supper at 5:15 PM, and the program will follow at 6:00 PM.

close
Early American History Seminar Copley’s Cato or, The Art of Slavery in the Age of British Liberty Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
6 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jane Kamensky, Harvard University Comment: David L. Waldstreicher, Graduate Center, CUNY

These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color, pull at a knotty thread in Copley’s biography as it did through his world: the tangle of slavery and liberty. We follow the artist as he became, like many in his place and time, an owner of men and women. Shortly thereafter, the painter pioneered images that revolutionized the portrayal of people of African descent in Western art. Our discussion will explore the seeming contradiction between the roles bondspeople played in Copley’s American household and upon his epic British canvases.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Capitalism, Carceral Culture, and the Domestication of Working Women in the Early American City Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
8 October 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Schlesinger Library Jen Manion, Connecticut College Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both manufacturing and punishment in the nascent years of industrial capitalism. Arrest and imprisonment was an occupational hazard for hucksters, sex workers, and tippling house operators, while the penitentiary imposed ideals of femininity defined by whiteness, domesticity, and submission on the poor working women behind its walls.

close
Environmental History Seminar How Rachel Carson Became a Revolutionary: Environmental Politics and the Public Sphere Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
13 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM David Hecht, Bowdoin College Comment: Chris Bosso, Northeastern University

Silent Spring is generally considered a foundational text of the modern environmental movement. However, this paper contends that Rachel Carson’s legacy is more mixed than the historical memory about her allows. This essay considers the surprisingly varied reception of Silent Spring over the last five decades. Ultimately, it argues, that assessment that Carson's work was revolutionary reflects the vicissitudes of environmental politics as much as anything intrinsic to the book itself.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Immigration, Race and the Tea Party Movement Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
27 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Luis Jiménez, University of Massachusetts—Boston Comment: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? Previous literature, ethnographic work and anecdotal evidence point to a complex mythology of taxpayers versus freeloaders that appears to not have any empirical basis, but rather rests on racial cues. This paper tests these hypotheses through a number of measures at different levels--state, congressional, and county units. It finds that tea party behavior was more pronounced in states, districts or counties with disproportionate numbers of Latinos, or people perceived as an immigrant other.

close
Early American History Seminar Peter Faneuil’s World: The Huguenot International and New England, 1682-1742 Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
3 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Owen Stanwood, Boston College Comment: Wim Klooster, Clark University

Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city's most famous buildings. Fewer know about the context of the family's migration to New England. The Faneuils were just one of the many Huguenot families to settle in the region, and their story demonstrates that Boston was not an isolated Puritan bastion, but an important node in an interconnected Protestant Atlantic world.

close
Environmental History Seminar André Michaux and the Many Politics of Trees in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
10 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Elizabeth Hyde, Kean University Comment: Joseph Cullon, MIT

In 1785, French botanist André Michaux was dispatched to the United States to study and collect North American specimens in an attempt to find trees that could replenish French forests. This essay offers a new analysis of Michaux’s mission in the context of the geo-political and diplomatic circumstances of his day. It demonstrates the importance of having botanical knowledge of a realm, and the value of a scientist who could navigate and communicate such information.

close
Biography Seminar Writing with Giants: Making the Human Larger than Life Please RSVP  this event is free 12 November 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM John Stauffer, Harvard University Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64

Civil War biographer Carol Bundy talks with John Stauffer, a leading historian of the antislavery movement and the Civil War, about his upcoming biography of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, whose moral stand on slavery led to his being beaten on the Senate floor. Writing about Charles Sumner, a complicated man whose life didn’t neatly conform to expectations both in the public and the private sphere, raises all sorts of questions about the uses of biography and the biographical approach to unveil the moral dimension of social change. Stauffer is the author of over a dozen books including Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.


New England Biography Seminar series information

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “A barbarous practice that would not be permitted in other civilized countries”: The Evolution and Enduring Presence of the African Dodger Game at Boston-Area Amusement Venues Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
24 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Mark Herlihy, Endicott College Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts—Boston

This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which patrons paid a nickel for a chance to throw a ball at the head of an African American male. The game’s popularity suggests the ways in which leisure venues and special events could strengthen white working- and middle-class identity and reinforce racial hierarchies.

close
Early American History Seminar Faces, Beauty, and Brains: Physiognomy and Female Education in Post-Revolutionary America Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
1 December 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Rachel Walker, University of Maryland Comment: Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut

This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science” of interpreting facial features—to distinguish between the minds of men and women. The work examines diaries of several “female physiognomists” who focused on evaluating the intellectual capacities of other educated women. Ultimately, the research traces how different groups of individuals used physiognomy to make sense of human nature.

close

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