Early American Studies as Public and Political Interventions

(Session #23, Thurs. 3/2 @ 3:15)

We invite you to join the discussion about how we can accomplish the work of a public intellectual and activist in Early American Studies.  How might scholars and teachers engage in our own historical moment by revisiting and, in Adrienne Rich’s memorable phrase, “re-visioning” the powerful forces that shaped Early American lives and that
reverberate in our own?

Specifically, this panel offers exemplary public and political interventions into how the past is cast and recast, shown and grown.  Drawing on graphic, digital, literary, and material culture, these presentations call upon Early American sources to present disruptive, unsettling, and remediating work for our time. Cherokee visual artists and language activists, Roy Boney, Jr. and Jeff Edwards each discuss aspects of Cherokee literacies: how and why the Cherokees transformed their writing system from manuscript to printing press. David Shields shifts our focus to the cultural and material processes that “Turn Early American Texts into Twenty-First Century Food.” And Annette Kolodny provides a case study in using the power of Early American scholarship to intervene in contemporary debates by “schooling” the New York Times about genocide and Native American history.

Turning to Rich again, as we ask ourselves “What Kinds of Times Are These?” we hope this panel offers paths toward collective, thoughtful action across many different domains, grounded in our common work in Early American contexts.

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