Seminars

Exhibition

Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country

Massachusetts Women in WWI. 12 June 2014 to 24 January 2015

Details

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 The Importance of Place and Place-makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park, 1950s-Present 23 September 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Natalia Molina, University of California - San Diego Comment: Judith Smith, University of Massachusetts - Boston This talk examines a Los Angeles neighborhood, Echo Park, and discusses its history, shaped by its ...

This talk examines a Los Angeles neighborhood, Echo Park, and discusses its history, shaped by its Leftist, Communist, and gay residents.  Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, this neighborhood’s history of progressive politics left a legacy for a wave of Mexican immigrants, allowing them to create a community that reached across social boundaries. The paper looks at Echo Park today to examine this gentrifying area and ask what the role of history is in the neighborhood’s evolving identity.

details
October
History of Women and Gender Seminar Enslaved Women and the Politics of Liberation in the Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World 2 October 2014.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Schlesinger Library Barbara Krauthamer, University of Massachusetts - Amherst Comment: Kate Masur, Northwestern University This paper examines enslaved women's strategies for gaining freedom through escape. It focuses on ...

This paper examines enslaved women's strategies for gaining freedom through escape. It focuses on enslaved women's escapes from bondage and their concomitant movements to various sites in the Americas from the Revolutionary era through the early decades of the nineteenth century. It also considers the ways in which both enslaved women and slaveholders made sense of the changing political landscape in the late eighteenth-century British Atlantic and African Diaspora.

details
Early American History Seminar Thomas Jefferson, Slavery, and the Law 7 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required David Konig, Washington University in St. Louis Comment: Malick Ghachem, MIT This paper, based on research into the nearly one thousand legal matters Thomas Jefferson handled as ...

This paper, based on research into the nearly one thousand legal matters Thomas Jefferson handled as a practicing attorney, analyzes the complex relationship between his legal career and his ownership of slaves. Jefferson used the law to manage enslaved people as his property but never repudiated their essential humanity. The political structure of the day made open assault on slavery inconceivable, but Jefferson claimed small victories against a loathsome institution in the courtroom.

Modern conceptions of rights posit them as universal and unitary: one either has the full panoply of rights protected by our express Constitutional commitment to “equal protection under the law,” or is experiencing a denial of liberty. Such a binary of rights-bearing status did not exist at the Founding – not in any of the newly independent united states, nor anywhere else for that matter. If we look closely at the nature of rights and of rights-bearing individuals, we find that they existed across a graded spectrum.

No full-scale frontal assault on slavery was conceivable within that structure of politics and law, but a venue for piecemeal achievements might be found in the courtroom within the interstices of procedure and doctrine still being debated and yet to assume settled form.  This study locates them in his legal practice where, to Jefferson, the enslaved were not only property but clients whose freedom he sought in the courtroom, and whose basic human dignity was to be effected by the rules of law.

details
Environmental History Seminar Finding Meaning and Debating Value in a Historical Landscape 14 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required David Benac, Western Michigan University Victoria Cain, Northeastern University Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.   ...

Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.  This transition exacerbated a clash of opposing visions of the value of history and the natural world. Competing interpretations of landscape as a resource or as a haven is an old dichotomy in environmental history. This paper adds nuance by employing a third category that intermingles the others: historical significance.

details
Early American History Seminar Popular U.S. Enthusiasm for Latin American Independence, 1810-1825 21 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Caitlin A. Fitz, Northwestern University Comment: John Bezis-Selfa, Wheaton College This paper explores the reactions of those in the United States to the independence movements of ...

This paper explores the reactions of those in the United States to the independence movements of Latin American nations in the 1800s. In general, U.S. observers were overjoyed by these movements; however, Massachusetts citizens were less thrilled. This presentation will analyze the national trend and the commonwealth’s deviation from it.

details
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Playing Charro, Transforming the City: Mexican Cowboys in San Antonio and Los Angeles, 1947-1970 28 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Laura Barraclough, Yale University Comment: Desirée J. Garcia, Arizona State University This paper examines the practice of charrería (Mexican rodeo) among Mexican immigrant ...

This paper examines the practice of charrería (Mexican rodeo) among Mexican immigrant men in San Antonio and Los Angeles from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. The charros claimed an active place for Mexicans in the history of the Southwest – as well as its future. At the same time, however, they reinscribed a gendered and classed vision of ethnic Mexican inclusion: one that privileged middle-class, socially conservative men while marginalizing other, more transformative visions.

details
November
Biography Seminar Understanding the Presidency: Personality, Politics, and Policy 6 November 2014.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Evan Thomas, Kathleen Dalton, and David Michaelis Moderator: Ted Widmer Focusing on the peculiar balance between policy and politics as it affects writing presidential ...

Focusing on the peculiar balance between policy and politics as it affects writing presidential biography, noted biographers Evan Thomas, Kathleen Dalton, and David Michaelis, with guest moderator Ted Widmer, will share their reflections on a wide range of 20th and 21st century presidencies.

details
Environmental History Seminar The Ravages of Teredo: The Historical Impacts of Marine Wood-Boring Worms on American Society, Geography, and Culture, 1865-1930 18 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Derek Lee Nelson, University of New Hampshire Comment: Robert Martello, Olin College of Engineering In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of ...

In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in American ports by destroying the structural integrity of wharves and ships. Even more startling was the extent to which the wood-boring mollusk invaded the American consciousness through congressional reports, newspapers, and popular culture from the coast deep into America’s heartland. This paper contributes to the history of the “littoral,” or coastal, environment.

details
Immigration and Urban History Seminar "Greetings from the Levee!": Labor and Leisure on the Streets and Docks of Postbellum New Orleans 25 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Theresa McCulla, Harvard University Lynnell Thomas, University of Massachusetts - Boston This essay examines the histories of labor and leisure among the New Orleanian working poor and the ...

This essay examines the histories of labor and leisure among the New Orleanian working poor and the white tourists who came to observe them, and underscores the constructed nature of the city’s food and culture industries. The paper also excavates the origins of longstanding racial distinctions between those who produced and those who consumed in the New South.

details
More events
Immigration and Urban History Seminar The Importance of Place and Place-makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park, 1950s-Present 23 September 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Natalia Molina, University of California - San Diego Comment: Judith Smith, University of Massachusetts - Boston

This talk examines a Los Angeles neighborhood, Echo Park, and discusses its history, shaped by its Leftist, Communist, and gay residents.  Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, this neighborhood’s history of progressive politics left a legacy for a wave of Mexican immigrants, allowing them to create a community that reached across social boundaries. The paper looks at Echo Park today to examine this gentrifying area and ask what the role of history is in the neighborhood’s evolving identity.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Enslaved Women and the Politics of Liberation in the Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World 2 October 2014.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Location: Schlesinger Library Barbara Krauthamer, University of Massachusetts - Amherst Comment: Kate Masur, Northwestern University

This paper examines enslaved women's strategies for gaining freedom through escape. It focuses on enslaved women's escapes from bondage and their concomitant movements to various sites in the Americas from the Revolutionary era through the early decades of the nineteenth century. It also considers the ways in which both enslaved women and slaveholders made sense of the changing political landscape in the late eighteenth-century British Atlantic and African Diaspora.

close
Early American History Seminar Thomas Jefferson, Slavery, and the Law 7 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
David Konig, Washington University in St. Louis Comment: Malick Ghachem, MIT

This paper, based on research into the nearly one thousand legal matters Thomas Jefferson handled as a practicing attorney, analyzes the complex relationship between his legal career and his ownership of slaves. Jefferson used the law to manage enslaved people as his property but never repudiated their essential humanity. The political structure of the day made open assault on slavery inconceivable, but Jefferson claimed small victories against a loathsome institution in the courtroom.

Modern conceptions of rights posit them as universal and unitary: one either has the full panoply of rights protected by our express Constitutional commitment to “equal protection under the law,” or is experiencing a denial of liberty. Such a binary of rights-bearing status did not exist at the Founding – not in any of the newly independent united states, nor anywhere else for that matter. If we look closely at the nature of rights and of rights-bearing individuals, we find that they existed across a graded spectrum.

No full-scale frontal assault on slavery was conceivable within that structure of politics and law, but a venue for piecemeal achievements might be found in the courtroom within the interstices of procedure and doctrine still being debated and yet to assume settled form.  This study locates them in his legal practice where, to Jefferson, the enslaved were not only property but clients whose freedom he sought in the courtroom, and whose basic human dignity was to be effected by the rules of law.

close
Environmental History Seminar Finding Meaning and Debating Value in a Historical Landscape 14 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
David Benac, Western Michigan University Victoria Cain, Northeastern University

Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.  This transition exacerbated a clash of opposing visions of the value of history and the natural world. Competing interpretations of landscape as a resource or as a haven is an old dichotomy in environmental history. This paper adds nuance by employing a third category that intermingles the others: historical significance.

close
Early American History Seminar Popular U.S. Enthusiasm for Latin American Independence, 1810-1825 21 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Caitlin A. Fitz, Northwestern University Comment: John Bezis-Selfa, Wheaton College

This paper explores the reactions of those in the United States to the independence movements of Latin American nations in the 1800s. In general, U.S. observers were overjoyed by these movements; however, Massachusetts citizens were less thrilled. This presentation will analyze the national trend and the commonwealth’s deviation from it.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Playing Charro, Transforming the City: Mexican Cowboys in San Antonio and Los Angeles, 1947-1970 28 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Laura Barraclough, Yale University Comment: Desirée J. Garcia, Arizona State University

This paper examines the practice of charrería (Mexican rodeo) among Mexican immigrant men in San Antonio and Los Angeles from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. The charros claimed an active place for Mexicans in the history of the Southwest – as well as its future. At the same time, however, they reinscribed a gendered and classed vision of ethnic Mexican inclusion: one that privileged middle-class, socially conservative men while marginalizing other, more transformative visions.

close
Biography Seminar Understanding the Presidency: Personality, Politics, and Policy 6 November 2014.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Evan Thomas, Kathleen Dalton, and David Michaelis Moderator: Ted Widmer

Focusing on the peculiar balance between policy and politics as it affects writing presidential biography, noted biographers Evan Thomas, Kathleen Dalton, and David Michaelis, with guest moderator Ted Widmer, will share their reflections on a wide range of 20th and 21st century presidencies.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Ravages of Teredo: The Historical Impacts of Marine Wood-Boring Worms on American Society, Geography, and Culture, 1865-1930 18 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Derek Lee Nelson, University of New Hampshire Comment: Robert Martello, Olin College of Engineering

In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in American ports by destroying the structural integrity of wharves and ships. Even more startling was the extent to which the wood-boring mollusk invaded the American consciousness through congressional reports, newspapers, and popular culture from the coast deep into America’s heartland. This paper contributes to the history of the “littoral,” or coastal, environment.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar "Greetings from the Levee!": Labor and Leisure on the Streets and Docks of Postbellum New Orleans 25 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Theresa McCulla, Harvard University Lynnell Thomas, University of Massachusetts - Boston

This essay examines the histories of labor and leisure among the New Orleanian working poor and the white tourists who came to observe them, and underscores the constructed nature of the city’s food and culture industries. The paper also excavates the origins of longstanding racial distinctions between those who produced and those who consumed in the New South.

close

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