Modern American Society and Culture

Exhibition

Turning Points in American History

10 June 2016 to 25 February 2017 Details

2017-2018 Call for Proposals

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship. Subscribe

The Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture is the new name of the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. The change acknowledges not so much a new field of inquiry as a redefinition of time-honored areas of research. Many of the questions are the same, concerning race, ethnicity, and global migration, for example. However, as scholars have increasingly contemplated the role of the suburbs, the exurbs, nationhood, citizenship, and diasporic migrations, the categories of “immigration” and “urban” have proven to be too confining.

 

Moreover, these categories may suggest that the seminar focuses on particular periods of American history such as the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, intense periods of industrialization, urbanization, and European immigration. The seminar's scholarly reach is wider: it pushes on the inception of “modern” America and extends forward to the twenty-first century, and it is not limited to Massachusetts topics. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year, and most focus on works in progress.

 

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

 

Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

September

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Canceled: The Color of War: Race, Neoliberalism and Punishment in Late 20th Century Los Angeles 27 September 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Donna Murch, Rutgers University Comment: Andrew Darien, Salem State University This program has been canceled. Drawing on the recent history of ...

This program has been canceled.

Drawing on the recent history of urban rebellions and punishment campaigns stemming from the late 1960s, this presentation will place our current movement for black lives in historical context.  Particular attention will be paid to the overlapping wars on gangs and drugs as background.

More
October
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “A Shiftless, Undesirable Class”: The Sexual Policing of Miami’s Bahamian Community in the Early Twentieth Century 25 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Julio Capó, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Michael Bronski, Harvard University This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, ...

This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, which chronicles the transnational forces that helped shape Miami's queer world from 1890 to 1940. In this chapter, Capó traces how urban authorities policed the perceived "suspect" sexualities of Miami's temporary and permanent settlers from the Bahamas and how their increased migration similarly informed gender and sexual norms on the archipelago.

More
November
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar French Canadians and the Transnational Church: The Landscape of North American Catholicism, 1837-1901 29 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Patrick Lacroix, University of New Hampshire Comment: Edward O’Donnell, College of the Holy Cross Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. ...

Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. between 1837 and 1929. Most of them settled in New England, where their ideas about nationalism and the doctrine of ultramontanism rocked the Catholic establishment in the last two decades of the 19th century. This paper explores the influence of immigration on larger debates over North American Catholicism. It examines the response of the New England episcopacy, whose Americanism helped to preserve the structure and ideas of the Irish-American religious establishment.

More
January
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Urban History on the Digital Frontier 24 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Vivek Bald, MIT, Jack A. Dougherty, Trinity College, and Marilynn S. Johnson, Boston College Moderator: Douglas O'Reagan, MIT 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
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
March
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Moving News, Affecting Relief: The Irish Famine’s Trans-Atlantic Circulations 28 March 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Anelise H. Shrout, California State University, Fullerton Comment: Kevin Kenny, Boston College The ships that carried Irish famine victims across the Atlantic also carried tragic accounts of ...

The ships that carried Irish famine victims across the Atlantic also carried tragic accounts of those left behind; in response, North Americans sent millions of dollars to relieve rural suffering. This paper argues that exploring the interactions between these various circulations reveals a tension between aiding strangers overseas and welcoming them in American cities. Further, it demonstrates that Americans’ decisions to send funds overseas were deeply conditioned by the political utility of those donations at home.

More
April
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Interreligious Responses to the Settlement House Movement, 1880-1924 25 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Anne M. Blankenship, North Dakota State University Comment: Kristen Petersen, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. ...

By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. This paper analyzes how Catholic and Jewish immigrant communities in New York City responded to the Protestant origins and agenda of their benefactors prior to the 1920s, when many houses secularized activities in order to receive money from the Community Chest. Parties concerned about evangelism generally responded in one of two ways: public denouncement of specific houses and/or the development of alternative community centers to promote non-Protestant traditions.

More
More events
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Canceled:
The Color of War: Race, Neoliberalism and Punishment in Late 20th Century Los Angeles
27 September 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Donna Murch, Rutgers University Comment: Andrew Darien, Salem State University

This program has been canceled.

Drawing on the recent history of urban rebellions and punishment campaigns stemming from the late 1960s, this presentation will place our current movement for black lives in historical context.  Particular attention will be paid to the overlapping wars on gangs and drugs as background.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “A Shiftless, Undesirable Class”: The Sexual Policing of Miami’s Bahamian Community in the Early Twentieth Century 25 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Julio Capó, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Michael Bronski, Harvard University

This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, which chronicles the transnational forces that helped shape Miami's queer world from 1890 to 1940. In this chapter, Capó traces how urban authorities policed the perceived "suspect" sexualities of Miami's temporary and permanent settlers from the Bahamas and how their increased migration similarly informed gender and sexual norms on the archipelago.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar French Canadians and the Transnational Church: The Landscape of North American Catholicism, 1837-1901 29 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Patrick Lacroix, University of New Hampshire Comment: Edward O’Donnell, College of the Holy Cross

Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. between 1837 and 1929. Most of them settled in New England, where their ideas about nationalism and the doctrine of ultramontanism rocked the Catholic establishment in the last two decades of the 19th century. This paper explores the influence of immigration on larger debates over North American Catholicism. It examines the response of the New England episcopacy, whose Americanism helped to preserve the structure and ideas of the Irish-American religious establishment.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Urban History on the Digital Frontier 24 January 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Vivek Bald, MIT, Jack A. Dougherty, Trinity College, and Marilynn S. Johnson, Boston College Moderator: Douglas O'Reagan, MIT

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
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. 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
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Moving News, Affecting Relief: The Irish Famine’s Trans-Atlantic Circulations Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 28 March 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Anelise H. Shrout, California State University, Fullerton Comment: Kevin Kenny, Boston College

The ships that carried Irish famine victims across the Atlantic also carried tragic accounts of those left behind; in response, North Americans sent millions of dollars to relieve rural suffering. This paper argues that exploring the interactions between these various circulations reveals a tension between aiding strangers overseas and welcoming them in American cities. Further, it demonstrates that Americans’ decisions to send funds overseas were deeply conditioned by the political utility of those donations at home.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Interreligious Responses to the Settlement House Movement, 1880-1924 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 25 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Anne M. Blankenship, North Dakota State University Comment: Kristen Petersen, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. This paper analyzes how Catholic and Jewish immigrant communities in New York City responded to the Protestant origins and agenda of their benefactors prior to the 1920s, when many houses secularized activities in order to receive money from the Community Chest. Parties concerned about evangelism generally responded in one of two ways: public denouncement of specific houses and/or the development of alternative community centers to promote non-Protestant traditions.

close

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