In 2013-14, the Americas Before 1900 Working Group held 6 workshops and co-sponsored a CMRS lecture. The presenters were: Cristobal Silva (Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University); Patricia Arroyo-Calderón (PhD candidate, Spanish and Portuguese, OSU); Carolyn Dean (Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz);Elizabeth Hewitt (Associate Professor of English, OSU); Claudia Happel (PhD candidate, Spanish and Portuguese, OSU); Kathleen Donegan (Associate Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley); Tatiana Seijas (Assistant Professor of History, Miami University); and Peter Coviello (Professor of English, Bowdoin College). The presenters were well distributed among the different departments and disciplines of working group members (Spanish and Portuguese, English, Art History, History) and at different ranks, and from inside and outside of OSU. Since the workshop covers both the colonial period and the nineteenth century in all areas of the Americas, we also sought a balance of areas and time periods addressed (see attached calendar). All of the presenters except for Kathleen Donegan and Peter Coviello pre-circulated an article-, chapter-, or other work-in-progress and the working group (usually 15-20 participants, about evenly divided between graduate students and faculty) met over lunch or snacks to discuss it for an hour to an hour and a half. Kathleen Donegan and Peter Coviello presented well-attended lectures (30-40), and afterward participated in informal roundtable discussions (6-8 participants).
The Americas Before 1900 Working Group fosters comparative and transnational approaches to the cultures and histories of the early Americas in both research and teaching. Conceptualizing connections across the hemisphere’s cultures and languages is especially crucial for understanding the kinds of colonial encounters and transitions to modernity that proliferate from the pre-Columbian era to the advent of industrialization.
We bring historians and literary scholars of both Latin America and Anglo-America together to discuss hemispheric questions such as how narratives across cultures address the legacy of slavery; how colonial encounters influence modern forms of jurisprudence; and how systems of quantification develop across different imperial spaces. Convening in Spring 2013, we anticipate broadening these questions as we create a space for ongoing dialogue about the interconnectedness of the Americas to each other and the rest of the globe.