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Text of our August '004 Proposal to the A.S.A.

EARLY AMERICAN MATTERS

CAUCUS    A question that this title raises is “By ‘early,’ do you mean pre-1900?  Prior to the so-called American Renaissance?  pre-1800?  Maybe even pre-European contact?,” and a legitimate answer would be Yes, as in Yes to all of the above.

We know that a number of our colleagues who attend A.S.A. conferences -- as well as many more prospective participants -- have research interests touching on those earlier periods. We know that alongside the re-invigoration of American Studies during the past two decades there has been a flourishing of interdisciplinary attention to America before the Civil War, before the Revolutionary War, before slavery came to the English colonies, before there were European colonies throughout these continents.  We know too that many of today’s most fiercely contested issues have their sources in the first two centuries of European settlement.  We also know that as scholarship flourishes around such questions and issues, it not only crosses these fairly arbitrary temporal boundaries (1900, the 1850s, 1800, and so on) but also takes us across traditional disciplinary lines.

We also know, alas, that for the past decade and more, the programs of A.S.A. conferences have included a paucity of matters early American.  For us, matters include everything from the material culture of pre-European contact archeology to the pseudo-scientific racial theories of the antebellum decades; in short, we look at matters textual, ideological, material, and historical.  Another question, then, suggests itself:

Shouldn’t the A.S.A.’s menu of caucuses include one
whose title bears these keywords early and matters?

We say Yes, and we relish that prospect.  Why don't you Join Us? Why don't you Sign-Up for our e-mail list-serve?