Graduate Student Conference: Popular Culture in Early America

Posted in Calls for Papers, graduate students by Editor on November 14, 2010

Popular Culture in Early America
The Fourth James L. and Shirley A. Draper Graduate Student Conference in Early American Studies
Storrs, Connecticut and Worcester, Massachusetts, 24-26 March 2011

Proposals due by 15 December 2010

Popular culture in early America embraced a host of activities and purposes, communities, practices, and sites. From London to Philadelphia, Charleston to Kingston, Quebec to Lima, colonial subjects and then citizens of the United States and other new republics in the Americas frequented taverns and country dances, cock fights and boxing matches, where they relaxed, competed, bonded, shared news, forged political alliances, and defined the meanings and limits of sociability. Couples strolled through pleasure gardens in eighteenth-century cities and privileged women staked claims to gentility with Wedgwood china, while men of all classes patronized brothels and then repented after listening to fiery revival sermons. Museums and theaters advertised new forms of instruction and amusement in the public arena. The respectable home, in turn, took on a new role as an entertainment center, where young ladies performed on the piano and children moved pawns on board games. Meanwhile, in realms of their own, enslaved people played homemade instruments adapting African forms and rhythms to New World surroundings, only to witness their musical culture admired, mocked, and expropriated in the commercialized form of blackface minstrelsy. Popular culture expressed the vitality of the diverse worlds that met and collided in early America and enacted their tensions and conflicts as well. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: