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.

December

Early American History Seminar Panel: Loyalism 6 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Liam Riordan, University of Maine at Orono, and Christina Carrick, Boston University Comment: Steve Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist ...

Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist Biography” argues that loyalism’s deep colonial roots, wartime travails, and British Atlantic diaspora are its most important qualities. Hutchinson’s place at the center of our understanding of the subject causes us to lose critical aspects of the loyalist experience. Carrick’s essay, “‘The earlier we form good Connections the better’: David Greene's Loyalist Merchant Network in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” explores how some Loyalist refugees, like Greene, found ways to develop new prospects and connections while in exile. After returning to Boston in 1785 Greene used his social and commercial connections to the wartime enemy to make himself appealing in the new Republic.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: The History of Black Feminisms 8 December 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Françoise Hamlin, Brown University, Tanisha C. Ford, University of Delaware, and Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research Moderator: Kali Nicole Gross, Wesleyan University A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and ...

A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and pay tribute to the scholarship of Leslie Brown of Williams College. Ford is the author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul. Hamlin is the author of Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II, while Lindsey’s forthcoming book is Colored No More: New Negro Womanhood in the Nation’s Capital.

More
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Recreation and Regional Planning 13 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Elsa Devienne, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Princeton University, and Garrett Nelson, Dartmouth College Comment: Brian Donahue, Brandeis University Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los ...

Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Beaches, 1920s-1970s” examines the beaches as urban spaces whose modernization had profound consequences for the working-class. The beach clean-up and enlargement turned a popular shoreline into a semi-privatized playground for the white middle class. Nelson’s essay, “Assembling the Metropolis, Arresting the Metropolis: Competing Unit Geographies of Boston and Its Region, 1890-1930,” approaches parks as landscapes that express attitudes toward community, polity, and territory. By examining Sylvester Baxter’s metropolitan parks and Benton MacKaye’s Bay Circuit, it explores the intellectual tensions between Progressivism and the radical cultural regionalism that followed.

More
January
Environmental History Seminar Sex in the Reeds: Disciplining Nature and Cultivating Virtue in the Back Bay Fens 10 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Zachary Nowak, Harvard University Comment: Phyllis Andersen, Independent Scholar With the introduction of discourse about “invasive exotic species” in the 1980s, the ...

With the introduction of discourse about “invasive exotic species” in the 1980s, the reason for the removal of reeds planted along the Muddy River shifted, from socio-sexual disapproval of illicit activities to “ecoxenophobia.” This essay aims to historicize “exotic” species to show that their labeling as such is a social construct, not a biological fact. Improving the Fens through planting and weeding has for more than a century really been a project to improve people.

More
Biography Seminar Publishing Lives: How It’s Done, and Who Does It 19 January 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Laura Claridge, Jill Kneerim, and Deanne Urmy Moderator: Megan Marshall Deanne Urmy, Senior Executive Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Jill Kneerim of the Kneerim ...

Deanne Urmy, Senior Executive Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Jill Kneerim of the Kneerim & Williams literary agency, both of whom are actively engaged in publishing biography, will be joined by Laura Claridge, author of the just-published The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire. Their conversation will widen out from biography itself to the workings of the literary marketplace, then and now.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Urban History on the Digital Frontier 24 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Vivek Bald, MIT, Jack A. Dougherty, Trinity College, and Marilynn S. Johnson, Boston College Moderator: Claire Potter, New School Bald is working on a transmedia project aimed at recovering the histories of peddlers and steamship ...

Bald is working on a transmedia project aimed at recovering the histories of peddlers and steamship workers from British colonial India who came to the U.S. in the early 20th century. It includes a digital oral history website. Dougherty and his students are writing an open-access book, On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, which features interactive maps and oral history videos. Johnson’s Global Boston is a public history website combining a basic immigration history overview for the region with student research, oral history, and a curated selection of digitized primary sources, images and maps documenting the local immigrant experience.

More
February
Early American History Seminar The Coromantee War in Jamaica: Charting the Course of an Atlantic Slave Revolt 7 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Vincent Brown, Harvard University Comment: Malick Ghachem, MIT Drawn from Brown’s current book project, this essay will discuss African diasporic warfare in ...

Drawn from Brown’s current book project, this essay will discuss African diasporic warfare in the Americas. It puts the Jamaican Revolt of 1760-61 in the context of a dramatic series of 17th- and 18th-century revolts and conspiracies that were staged by enslaved Africans from the Gold Coast, known widely as “Coromantees."

More
Environmental History Seminar Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During World War I 21 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Gerard Fitzgerald, George Mason University Comment: Nicoletta Gullace, University of New Hampshire Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and ...

Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and industrial waste in the form of fruit pits for the manufacture of a high-density carbon filter critical for defense against chemical weapons. It involves not only environmental and military history but also the history of science and biology. The essay includes analysis of transportation networks within the context of 19th-century US imperialism, especially from a resource allocation perspective.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Conversation: Sexuality of History, History of Sexuality 23 February 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Radcliffe, Fay House, Sheerr Room, 10 Garden St. in Cambridge Sue Lanser, Brandeis University, and Jim Downs, Connecticut College Moderator: Jen Manion, Amherst College Please join us for a conversation with the authors of two important new books in the history of ...

Please join us for a conversation with the authors of two important new books in the history of sexuality.  This wide-ranging discussion will explore the relationship between lesbian and gay male histories, literary and historical methods, representation and political mobilization of people and communities. We will explore the following questions: How do such vastly different works advance the ongoing project of queer historicism and/or LGBTQ history and to what end? What scholarly fields and trends have enabled and inspired this new work? Who is the audience for LGBTQ history and queer scholarship, the LGBTQ community or the academy? How do we make theoretical insights legible and relevant to the community? How do we articulate the urgency to make the history of sexuality and LGBTQ communities central part of curricula, graduate training, and our professional organizations?"

Sue Lanser is author of The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565-1830 (Chicago, 2014) which explores the ways in which a historically specific interest in lesbians intersected with and stimulated systemic concerns that would seem to have little to do with sexuality. Departing from the prevailing trend of queer reading whereby scholars ferret out hidden content in “closeted” texts, Lanser situates overtly erotic representations within wider spheres of interest. In so doing, she demonstrates that just as one can understand sexuality by studying the past, so too can one understand the past by studying sexuality. Jim Downs is author of Stand by Me (Basic, 2016) which rewrites the history of gay life in the 1970s, arguing that the decade was about much more than sex and marching in the streets. Drawing on a vast trove of untapped records at LGBT community centers in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, Downs tells moving, revelatory stories of gay people who stood together—as friends, fellow believers, and colleagues—to create a sense of community among people who felt alienated from mainstream American life.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Vietnamese Political Prisoners and the Politics of Family, 1975-1996 28 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Amanda C. Demmer, University of New Hampshire Comment: Arissa Oh, Boston College This project dispels the myths that American involvement in Vietnam ended abruptly after the fall of ...

This project dispels the myths that American involvement in Vietnam ended abruptly after the fall of Saigon and that U.S. servicemen listed as prisoner of war/missing in action were the only exception to American disengagement. It explores the American response to Hanoi's incarceration of Vietnamese political prisoners in so-called “reeducation” camps, whose last prisoner was not released until 1992. More specifically, it argues that Vietnamese Americans successfully made the prisoners' release and resettlement a major objective of U.S. foreign policy.

More
More events
Early American History Seminar Panel: Loyalism Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
6 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Liam Riordan, University of Maine at Orono, and Christina Carrick, Boston University Comment: Steve Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist Biography” argues that loyalism’s deep colonial roots, wartime travails, and British Atlantic diaspora are its most important qualities. Hutchinson’s place at the center of our understanding of the subject causes us to lose critical aspects of the loyalist experience. Carrick’s essay, “‘The earlier we form good Connections the better’: David Greene's Loyalist Merchant Network in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” explores how some Loyalist refugees, like Greene, found ways to develop new prospects and connections while in exile. After returning to Boston in 1785 Greene used his social and commercial connections to the wartime enemy to make himself appealing in the new Republic.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: The History of Black Feminisms Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
8 December 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Françoise Hamlin, Brown University, Tanisha C. Ford, University of Delaware, and Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research Moderator: Kali Nicole Gross, Wesleyan University

A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and pay tribute to the scholarship of Leslie Brown of Williams College. Ford is the author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul. Hamlin is the author of Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II, while Lindsey’s forthcoming book is Colored No More: New Negro Womanhood in the Nation’s Capital.

close
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Recreation and Regional Planning Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
13 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Elsa Devienne, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Princeton University, and Garrett Nelson, Dartmouth College Comment: Brian Donahue, Brandeis University

Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Beaches, 1920s-1970s” examines the beaches as urban spaces whose modernization had profound consequences for the working-class. The beach clean-up and enlargement turned a popular shoreline into a semi-privatized playground for the white middle class. Nelson’s essay, “Assembling the Metropolis, Arresting the Metropolis: Competing Unit Geographies of Boston and Its Region, 1890-1930,” approaches parks as landscapes that express attitudes toward community, polity, and territory. By examining Sylvester Baxter’s metropolitan parks and Benton MacKaye’s Bay Circuit, it explores the intellectual tensions between Progressivism and the radical cultural regionalism that followed.

close
Environmental History Seminar Sex in the Reeds: Disciplining Nature and Cultivating Virtue in the Back Bay Fens Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
10 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Zachary Nowak, Harvard University Comment: Phyllis Andersen, Independent Scholar

With the introduction of discourse about “invasive exotic species” in the 1980s, the reason for the removal of reeds planted along the Muddy River shifted, from socio-sexual disapproval of illicit activities to “ecoxenophobia.” This essay aims to historicize “exotic” species to show that their labeling as such is a social construct, not a biological fact. Improving the Fens through planting and weeding has for more than a century really been a project to improve people.

close
Biography Seminar Publishing Lives: How It’s Done, and Who Does It Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
19 January 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Laura Claridge, Jill Kneerim, and Deanne Urmy Moderator: Megan Marshall

Deanne Urmy, Senior Executive Editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Jill Kneerim of the Kneerim & Williams literary agency, both of whom are actively engaged in publishing biography, will be joined by Laura Claridge, author of the just-published The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire. Their conversation will widen out from biography itself to the workings of the literary marketplace, then and now.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Urban History on the Digital Frontier Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
24 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Vivek Bald, MIT, Jack A. Dougherty, Trinity College, and Marilynn S. Johnson, Boston College Moderator: Claire Potter, New School

Bald is working on a transmedia project aimed at recovering the histories of peddlers and steamship workers from British colonial India who came to the U.S. in the early 20th century. It includes a digital oral history website. Dougherty and his students are writing an open-access book, On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, which features interactive maps and oral history videos. Johnson’s Global Boston is a public history website combining a basic immigration history overview for the region with student research, oral history, and a curated selection of digitized primary sources, images and maps documenting the local immigrant experience.

close
Early American History Seminar The Coromantee War in Jamaica: Charting the Course of an Atlantic Slave Revolt Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
7 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Vincent Brown, Harvard University Comment: Malick Ghachem, MIT

Drawn from Brown’s current book project, this essay will discuss African diasporic warfare in the Americas. It puts the Jamaican Revolt of 1760-61 in the context of a dramatic series of 17th- and 18th-century revolts and conspiracies that were staged by enslaved Africans from the Gold Coast, known widely as “Coromantees."

close
Environmental History Seminar Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During World War I Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
21 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Gerard Fitzgerald, George Mason University Comment: Nicoletta Gullace, University of New Hampshire

Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and industrial waste in the form of fruit pits for the manufacture of a high-density carbon filter critical for defense against chemical weapons. It involves not only environmental and military history but also the history of science and biology. The essay includes analysis of transportation networks within the context of 19th-century US imperialism, especially from a resource allocation perspective.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Conversation: Sexuality of History, History of Sexuality Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
23 February 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Radcliffe, Fay House, Sheerr Room, 10 Garden St. in Cambridge Sue Lanser, Brandeis University, and Jim Downs, Connecticut College Moderator: Jen Manion, Amherst College

Please join us for a conversation with the authors of two important new books in the history of sexuality.  This wide-ranging discussion will explore the relationship between lesbian and gay male histories, literary and historical methods, representation and political mobilization of people and communities. We will explore the following questions: How do such vastly different works advance the ongoing project of queer historicism and/or LGBTQ history and to what end? What scholarly fields and trends have enabled and inspired this new work? Who is the audience for LGBTQ history and queer scholarship, the LGBTQ community or the academy? How do we make theoretical insights legible and relevant to the community? How do we articulate the urgency to make the history of sexuality and LGBTQ communities central part of curricula, graduate training, and our professional organizations?"

Sue Lanser is author of The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565-1830 (Chicago, 2014) which explores the ways in which a historically specific interest in lesbians intersected with and stimulated systemic concerns that would seem to have little to do with sexuality. Departing from the prevailing trend of queer reading whereby scholars ferret out hidden content in “closeted” texts, Lanser situates overtly erotic representations within wider spheres of interest. In so doing, she demonstrates that just as one can understand sexuality by studying the past, so too can one understand the past by studying sexuality. Jim Downs is author of Stand by Me (Basic, 2016) which rewrites the history of gay life in the 1970s, arguing that the decade was about much more than sex and marching in the streets. Drawing on a vast trove of untapped records at LGBT community centers in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, Downs tells moving, revelatory stories of gay people who stood together—as friends, fellow believers, and colleagues—to create a sense of community among people who felt alienated from mainstream American life.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Vietnamese Political Prisoners and the Politics of Family, 1975-1996 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
28 February 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Amanda C. Demmer, University of New Hampshire Comment: Arissa Oh, Boston College

This project dispels the myths that American involvement in Vietnam ended abruptly after the fall of Saigon and that U.S. servicemen listed as prisoner of war/missing in action were the only exception to American disengagement. It explores the American response to Hanoi's incarceration of Vietnamese political prisoners in so-called “reeducation” camps, whose last prisoner was not released until 1992. More specifically, it argues that Vietnamese Americans successfully made the prisoners' release and resettlement a major objective of U.S. foreign policy.

close

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