Common Ground: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Early America

Keynote Address by Dr. Nancy Isenberg, Louisiana State University

May 11, 2018

The History Department at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Co-sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center PhD Program in History, CUNY Doctoral Student Council (DSC), and the CUNY American Studies Area Group


Registration: 8:00am – 9:00am in the History Lounge, Room 5114

  1. Session 1 (9:00am – 10:30am)

Panel 1 A: Performing Early America—Rm. 5409

Chair: Helena Yoo Roth, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. Alisa Wade, Queens College, CUNY

“Reading Across the Atlantic: French-language Print Culture in the Early Republic”

Nicole Mahoney, University of Maryland, College Park

“Sound and Sensibility: Sonic Environment and the ‘Regular Singing’ Controversy in 1720s New England”

Francis Russo, University of Pennsylvania

“An Epidemic of Madness: British Military Theatricals During the American Revolution”

Emma Winter Zeig, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Panel 1 B:  This Land is [No Longer] Your Land: Dispossession, Economic Imperialism, and the Frontier of Freedom—Rm. 5114

Chair: Arinn Amer, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. Gunja SenGupta, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

“‘Consistent with the policy, faith, and honor of the nation:’ Native Dispossession in the Old Northwest”

Sam Davis, Temple University

“Race, Labor, and Citizenship: Imagining the Pennsylvania Trans-Appalachian West 1780-1826”

Lucien Holness, University of Maryland, College Park

“Two Occurrences on the Coatzacoalcos River and the Road to the U.S.-Mexican War”

David McKenzie, George Mason University


  1. Session 2 (10:45am – 12:15pm)


Panel 2 A: Affect and Experience in the British Imperial World—Rm. 5114

Chair: Jaja Tantirungkij, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. John Blanton, The City College of New York, CUNY

“Emulating Empires and Dominating Rivals: The Origins of the British Free Port Act of 1766”

Grant Kleiser, Columbia University

“This Man Is Here: Somerset’s Case and Enslaved Subjecthood in the Anglo-Atlantic World”

Derek Litvak, University of Maryland, College Park

“Worlds Together: Massachusetts, Jamaica, and the End of the Seven Years’ War”

Peter Pellizzari, Harvard University


Panel 2 B: Rhetoric and Reform in the Early Republic—Rm. 5409

Chair: Cody Nager, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. Thomas Richards, Jr., The Clements Center, Southern Methodist University

“‘Emotions are the Unacknowledged Legislators of the World’: Humanitarian Emotions and the Anglo-American Anti-Slavery Movements, 1760-1865”

Felicia Gabriele, McGill University

“Personal History and Political Identity: A Case Study from the War of 1812”

Stephen Symchych, University of Oxford


Lunch Break (12:15pm-2:00pm)


III. Session 3 (2:00pm-3:30pm)


Panel 3A: Constructions of Difference and Space in Early America—Rm. 5409

Chair: Madeline Lafuse, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. Duncan Faherty, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“From Native Ground to Underground: Native Americans & People of African Descent, and the Creation of Cultural Landscapes in the Arkansas Territory”

Tessa Neblett Evans, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“Thomas Jefferson and the Learned Pig: The Problem of Intelligence and Humanity in the Early Republic”

Ittai Orr, Yale University

“‘The Child is the Father of the Man’: Race, Childhood, and Rubrics of the Human in Early America”

Camille S. Owens, Yale University


Panel 3B: Spaces in Rebellion: Politics Around Communities—Rm. 5114

Chair: Andrew Lang, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Comment: Dr. Benjamin Carp, Brooklyn College, CUNY

“Reordering Richmond: Public Space in the Capital of the Confederacy”

Vivien Rendleman, Duke University

“William Smith, Jr. and the Future of Empire”

Helena Yoo Roth, The Graduate Center, CUNY

“To Philadelphia and Back: William Bonham, the Fort Wilson Affair, and the Whiskey Rebellion”

Matthew White, The Ohio State University


  1. Round Table Session (3:45pm – 5:15pm) – Room 5114


Panel 4: The Promises and Pitfalls of Biography

Moderator: Dr. Nora Slonimsky, Iona College and the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies

  • Dr. Andrew Burstein, Louisiana State University
  • Dr. Nancy Isenberg, Louisiana State University
  • Dr. David Reynolds, The Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Dr. David Waldstreicher, The Graduate Center, CUNY


  1. Keynote Session 5 (5:30pm – 6:45pm) – Room 5114

Dr. Nancy Isenberg, Louisiana State University

“The Rural Roots of Class Politics in America”

Nancy Isenberg is the bestselling author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (Viking, 2016), and the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at Louisiana State University.  She is also the author of Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr (Viking, 2007) and Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (University of North Carolina Press, 1998).  She coauthored with Andrew Burstein, Madison and Jefferson (Random House, 2010), and The Presidents Adams and the Problem of Democracy, which will be published in 2019.


A light reception until 7:30pm will follow Dr.Isenberg’s keynote in the history lounge (5114).