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Volume 17 (2019)
Quarterly (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall)
ISSN: 1543-4273
E-ISSN: 1559-0895

Early American Studies: 
An Interdisciplinary Journal

Sponsored by The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Early American Studies is now a quarterly journal. The main reason we decided to move from three to four issues a year is to accommodate the increasing number of submissions and McNeil Center-sponsored conferences. The latter, along with initiatives of past fellows and others, warrant the publication of two special/theme/guest-edited issues a year, along with the two regular issues. The journal is dedicated to publishing original research on the histories and cultures of North America in the Atlantic world before 1850. Contributors and subscribers span the variety of disciplines concerned with early America, including history, art history, literary studies, religious studies, music, philosophy, and material culture studies, among others.

The new website for the American and Muslim worlds before 1900 conference has launched! Find out more about the conference here.

The cover image caption for Issue 15.4 Fall 2017 was incorrect in the printed version. The correct caption should be:

Peter Cooper. The South East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia. Oil on canvas, ca. 1720. Gift of George Mifflin Dallas. The Library Company of Philadelphia.


Call For Papers: Women and Religion in the Early Americas

For a special issue in honor of the life and career of Mary Maples Dunn, Early American Studies seeks article-length contributions from scholars working on the history of women and religion in the early Americas.  Mary Maples Dunn (1931-2017) was a leading practitioner of women’s history, as a scholar, as a teacher, and in her life as a university leader.  She worked in a variety of fields from early American women’s history; to colonial Latin American history; to the history of religious women; to the history of women’s education as well as, of course, the worlds of William Penn and early Philadelphia.

The editors invite essays that consider the history of early American women, early American religion (or both) and are especially interested in work that makes cross-cultural comparisons or integrates multiple Atlantic orientations: North and South (French, British, Dutch, Spanish and/or Portuguese) East and West (from European and/or African links to Native American perspectives).  We are interested in both formal article-length contributions (10,000 words) and in shorter essays on "Notes and Documents" that highlight innovative or creative ways of reading/using primary-source documents (3,000-5,000 words).

To submit, please email a 3-page CV and a 1,000 word summary of the contribution you propose to write by September 30 to Ann Little (ann.little@colostate.edu) and Nicole Eustace (nicole.eustace@nyu.edu). Please use the subject line "Mary Maples Dunn Special Issue Submission."    We will notify you of your preliminary acceptance by October 31, 2017 and final essays are due on April 30, 2018.  Articles are to be published, subject to peer review, in 2019.

Announcement of the Early Americanists' March Madness Tournament

Every year The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History runs a tournament that focuses on some form of scholarship and gets the community to engage in a discussion concerning their favorite academic texts. This year they are planning to focus on articles that cover any period of early American history.

Early American Studies is honored to have as a participant in the tournament an article from Vol. 10.3 Fall 2012. The article is "Ecosystems Under Sail: Specimen and Transport in the Eighteenth-Century French and British Atlantic." by Christopher Parsons and Kathleen Murphy. Here is a link to the article.


Announcement of the new Editor:

Dear Colleagues:

I am absolutely delighted to announce that Roderick A. McDonald has been appointed editor of Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, for a term extending through June 2019.  ...more

Daniel K. Richter
The Richard S. Dunn Director
McNeil Center for Early American Studies


Interested readers can look forward to the following special issues:

  • “Beyond the Binaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America” (Fall 2014/guest editor Rachel Hope Cleves),
  • “The Environment in Early America” (Spring 2015/Chris Parsons and Cameron Strang),
  • “Ligaments of the Early American Economy” (Fall 2015/Cathy Matson),
  • “1763: Pontiac and Paxton” (Spring 2016/Patrick Spero and John Smolenski),
  • “Race and Kinship” (Fall 2016/Brian Connolly and Dawn Peterson),
  • “Port Cities” (Spring 2017/Jessica Roney), and
  • “The Republics of Benjamin Rush (Fall 2017/Chris Bilodeau).


Congratulations to Samuel Biagetti. His article in the Winter 2014 issue of EAS, "Enlightenment and Revolution: The Case of Louisiana, 1768" was selected by the Louisiana Historical Association as the recipient of the Glenn R. Conrad Prize for best article published in any source during 2014-15 on any topic related to Louisiana History.

The John M. Murrin Prize

MCEAS awards the John M. Murrin Prize annually for the best essay published in Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

John Murrin, Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University, has long been one of the most active members of the McNeil Center community, as former chair of its executive council, as a fixture of its advisory council, and as a witty and insightful participant in its seminars. Few living historians can match him as a master of the historical essay form, and so this prize is a particularly fitting tribute to his long career and his many contributions to early American studies. 

The winner of the 2017 Murrin Prize for the best article published in the 2016 issues of  EAS is Chad Anderson, for his article, “Rediscovering Native North America: Settlements, Maps and Empires in the Eastern Woodlands,” which appeared last summer.  

Recipients of the prize, which includes a certificate and a cash award, are chosen by a sub-committee of the EAS editorial board, whose members this year were Cathy Matson (chair), Niki Eustace, Stevie Wolf, Denver Brunsman, Rose Beiler and John Wood Sweet.  They provided the following statements about Chad Anderson’s article:

--Anderson redraws our understanding of the role of map-making in British imperialism.  While recent scholars have strongly emphasized the (sometimes strategic) geographical ignorance of Europeans in North America, Anderson inverts this argument and asks us to pay renewed attention to the detailed village-level information on Indian communities contained in many Anglo-American maps.  Despite extensive rhetoric describing North America as Terra Nullius, the better to ignore native sovereignty, in reality British imperialists and U.S. nationalists alike had incentives to recognize and even maximize the boundaries of native sovereignty, the better to legitimate transfers of title to themselves.
--The essay offers an intriguing re-interpretation of eighteenth-century British maps and the ways map-makers interpreted the place of Native Americans in plans for and visions of empire. By closely reading the placement of the densely populated Indian towns and roads in John Mitchell’s 1755 map, he makes a compelling case for the mapmaker’s inclusion of Indians as key “settlers” with clear connections to imperial interests. Over time, however, Anderson argues that mapmakers erased Native American settlements from the landscape and confined them to reservations that were clearly bounded with lines and separated from the colonies (and the U.S.). His innovative read of eighteenth-century maps revises our understanding of how British mapmakers integrated Indians into their imperial plans rather than showing an empty landscape to imply an “unsettled” wilderness waiting for conquest.  The essay was interesting, well written, and persuasive. The analysis of maps as texts was thoughtfully done and refreshing in its subtlety.  

--Anderson’s article challenges how scholars have understood the role of maps and mapmaking in the European conquest of North America. It argues persuasively that scholars have underestimated the amount of detail of Native American towns included on British maps by the 1750s. Far from erasing Native settlements, the British were at pains to map Indian communities with as much detail as possible. This insight challenges common assumptions about the urban geography of Eastern Woodlands Indians and the implications of Euro-American expansion, which “appears more like a slow invasion than it does the settlement of an empty continent,” according to Anderson.

--Through the use of maps as well as contemporary accounts, this article complicates the history of Indian settlement across the eastern American English empire.  It breaks new ground in clarifying such concepts as “erasing villages and routes” and the importance of “discovery” in justifying conquest, extending and correcting secondary literature on the subject. 

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 mceas@ccat.sas.upenn.edu

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