Beyond Early, Beyond American: Part 1 of a SEA/C19 Collaboration on Period, Space, and Scholarly Turf

What counts as early, and what counts as American? How do our answers to these questions influence our scholarly and pedagogical labors along with the broader structure of our scholarly field (or fields)?


This roundtable will be the first of two thematically linked conversations that will occur at separate conferences: the 2017 biennial meeting of the Society of Early Americanists in Tulsa, OK, and the fifth biennial meeting of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists in Albuquerque, NM, March 22-25, 2018 (see the C19-Albuquerque call for papers here:


Our project in calling for this conversation is to bring together ten individuals (distributed across two panels) whose engagements with early American studies occur through quite different positionings of their work in time, discipline, and place. We seek a current assessment of the state of the field by asking whether what we all study constitutes one field and, if so, what the outlines of that field are. Of particular interest to us is how spatial and chronological categories and modes of inquiry bear upon each other.


Without question early American studies has become a larger, more vibrant, and more diverse field of study over each of the preceding four decades. Part of this increase in intellectual intensity, density, and range results from a broader conceptualization of “America” beyond the bounds of nation. So expansive have been recent understandings of the terms “America” and “American” through transatlantic, transnational, hemispheric, and global paradigms that the more useful question might be: what topics and interrogations fall outside the boundaries of this field?


The implications of more elastic notions of place and space for our approaches to periodization strike us as underappreciated and under-examined. How do traditional sorts of periodization, often Eurocentric or nationally based (antebellum, pre-columbian, early republic, Enlightenment, golden age…), serve to anchor – for better or for worse – more innovative or elastic approaches to space. In studies of intercultural interaction, how are self-identified early Americanists these days approaching the task of reconciling how different peoples categorize time? We are also interested in whether current critical approaches to temporality might reconfigure our sense of indigeneity and studies of settler colonialism. Is there such a thing as late indigeneity?


We invite you to join this conversation both this Friday in Tulsa at SEA, and in 2018 in Albuquerque at C19.


yours warmly,

Hester Blum, President, C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists

Laura Stevens, President, Society of Early Americanists


  1. Beyond Early, Beyond American: Part I of a SEA/C19 Collaboration on Period, Space, and Scholarly Turf


Directors Row 3

Saturday, March 4

Organizers: Laura M. Stevens, University of Tulsa; Hester Blum, Penn State University


Chair: Hester Blum, Penn State University


Kirsten Silva Gruesz, University of California, Santa Cruz, “Languages of Omission”


Stephanie Schmidt, University at Buffalo (SUNY), “Christian Time in Mesoamerica”


Hilary E. Wyss, Auburn University, “Early American Crossings: Missions across Time and Space”


Brycchan Carey, Northumbria University, UK, “To Port Stanley, Via Greenland and Barbados”
Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma and Journal of the Early Republic, “Situating the Early Republic”


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