Early American Studies Fall 2023 Volume 21.4

Current Issue

Fall 2023 Volume 21.4

EAS 21.4 in now available on MUSE!

About Early American Studies

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal sponsored by The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. The journal publishes original research on the histories and cultures of North America and the Atlantic world before 1850. The editors welcome contributions from scholars working in a variety of disciplines concerned with early America, including history, art history, literary studies, religious studies, music, philosophy, and material culture studies, among others. They are especially interested in works that employ interdisciplinary methods or source materials.

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Visit EAS Miscellany, the digital companion to the journal. 


Like its eighteenth-century printed predecessors, EAS Miscellany features an eclectic range of content, from posts written by the journal’s authors, to interviews, reviews, forums, resource guides, multimedia sources, and other materials that don’t fit easily within the printed journal. 

Congratulations to Jordan B. Smith, winner of the Agricultural History Society’s Wayne D. Rasmussen Award.

Jordan B. Smith’s EAS article “’The Native Produce of this Island’: Processes of Invention in Early Barbados,” published in the Fall 2022 special issue “Sugar and Slaves at Fifty” (DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1353/eam.2022.0027) won the Wayne D. Rasmussen Award for the best article about agricultural history not published in Agricultural History. Smith explores the contributions of Indigenous people and enslaved Africans to the production of rum – a product that seventeenth-century officials claimed was native to the island. By reading well-known sources in new ways, he argues that the new drink emerged from “the creative collisions of skilled practitioners, agricultural products, technologies, and ideas surrounding consumption.” Smith shows how, in the process of trying to “recreate traditional beverages” based on their own cultural assumptions, Europeans, Africans, and Indigenous Americans adapted new ingredients and methods of production to create something new.


Congratulations to Erin Kramer, winner of EAS’s 2022 John M. Murrin Prize

The winner of the Murrin Prize for the best article published in Early American Studies during 2022 is Erin Kramer of Trinity University. Her article, “’That she shall forever be banished from this country’: Alcohol, Sovereignty, and Social Segregation in New Netherland” (DOI: 10.1353/eam.2022.0004), appeared in the Winter 2022 issue.

Recipients of the prize, which is named for John M. Murrin (1935-2020), are chosen by a sub-committee of the editorial board. This year, Kramer's article was the committee’s clear choice for the award.  As they explained:

Combining the history of gender, law, and Indigenous nations and using multilingual sources, Kramer reveals how Indigenous nations, Dutch authorities, and ordinary people on both sides expressed shared and opposed notions of segregation as they, via diplomacy, conflict, and everyday interaction, sought to control or constrain the sale and consumption of alcohol. Kramer foregrounds Indigenous efforts for separation by rooting them in Native demands for sovereignty. Conversely, she shows how Dutch authorities defined segregation as a racial and gendered justification for colonial expansion. Dutch authorities cast Indigenous claims to sovereignty as threats, and where Dutch women and men flouted the same alcohol ordinances, women received excessive punishments. Despite these repressions, Kramer reminds us that colonialism was not monolithic or hegemonic. Settler colonialism expanded from competing visions of social and moral behavior expressed by authorities and everyday people within and between cultures.

In addition, the prize committee awarded two honorable mentions. They went to Lee Bernstein of SUNY New Paltz for his article, “Sintsincks to Sing Sing: Empire, the War of 1812, and the Transformation of U.S. Prisons” (DOI: 10.1353/eam.2022.0012), which appeared in the Spring 2022 issue and Casey Schmitt of Cornell University for her article, “’Brought from the Palenques’: Race, Subjecthood, and Warfare in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean” (DOI: 10.1353/eam.2022.0026), which appeared in the Fall 2022 Special Issue “Sugar and Slaves at Fifty.”

About the Murrin Prize
: The John M. Murrin Essay Prize is awarded for the best article published in Early American Studies each year. Murrin, an early American historian who spent most of his career at Princeton University, was a dedicated and stalwart member of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies community from its founding. The prize is awarded to honor his mastery of the essay form. 

Initial funds for the prize were generously contributed by Professor Murrin's former students. Additional contributions are welcome to endow the award in perpetuity. Checks should be made out to "The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania," with "McNeil Center, Murrin Prize" entered in the memo line, and mailed to: McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 3355 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4531 Contributions are tax-deductible. Questions may be directed to [email protected] 

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