Review: European Association for American Studies Conference 2016

To an historian – like myself – a panel entitled ‘Digitextualities – Spatialities, Fluidities, Hybridities’ seems perplexing at first, but the fact such papers could sit alongside those on nineteenth century slave history or modern American literature demonstrates EAAS’s inclusiveness. The exceptional coordination of such a large and international conference was a credit to the organisers. Continue reading

Sea Birds, Castaways, and Phantom Islands off Newfoundland

On the twentieth of April 1534, Jacques Cartier sailed from St. Malo, France, with two ships and sixty-one men aboard each. On the tenth of May they came to Newfoundland at Cape Bonavista. On the twenty-first of May they sailed Northeast until they came upon an island encompassed by a jumble of broken ice which Cartier named l’Isle des Ouaisseaulx (Isle of Birds), as it’s surface was covered with nesting sea birds and the cries of thousands more filled the air overhead. Continue reading

Loyalist Lawyers: Exiles from the American Revolution

For my book project, I’m investigating lawyers who lived in 18th century Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston. Towards the end of the century, these individuals took a leading role in conducting the American Revolution, and also in the creation of the legal structures that became new state governments and the national government of the United States. As lawyers, they were also a bit of a closed community, speaking an arcane language filled with terms that others could not understand unless they shared the same training: words like fee tail male, executrix, intestacy, writs of attachment, or tripartite bonds were their stock in trade, plus Latin tags for every occasion. Being part of this community of men trained in the same field held them apart from all others, as well as holding them together in a sort of invisible association. Continue reading