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Appalachia as Contested Borderland of the Early Modern Atlantic, 1528-1715 – Q&A with Dr. Kimberly C. Borchard

What led to your interest in this area of study? I was working toward my doctorate in Spanish with a focus on colonial Latin American literature at the University of Chicago when I started noticing references in Spanish and Portuguese to a supposedly gold-rich land by the name of Apalache, beginning with Álvar Núñez Cabeza […]

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A Drunkard’s Defense: Alcohol, Murder, and Medical Jurisprudence in Nineteenth-Century America – Q&A with Dr. Michele Rotunda

This is such an interesting topic. Could you tell us what led to your interest in this area of study?  Actually, I didn’t set out at first to write about murder. I was initially focused on the ways in which physicians applied scientific principles and social concerns related to gender, race, and class to a […]

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Communion of Radicals: The Literary Christian Left in Twentieth-Century America – Q&A with Dr. Jonathan McGregor

What led to your interest in this area of study?  I’ve been interested in both literature and religion as long as I can remember–perusing lyrics in the hymnal during services as a kid was my introduction to poetry, and Bible study taught me how to do “close reading” before I knew the terminology. As my interests […]

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Canaan, Dim and Far: Black Reformers and the Pursuit of Citizenship in Pittsburgh, 1915-1945 – Q&A with Dr. Adam Lee Cilli

What led to your interest in this area of research?  My research in the field of African American urban history stemmed from a general commitment to social justice and a specific commitment to advance research and teaching in the areas of race, ethnicity, and gender.  It also grew out of pure interest and scholarly curiosity. […]

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Star Territory: Printing the Universe in Nineteenth-Century America – Q&A with Dr. Gordon Fraser

What sparked your interest in this particular area of research?  When I entered graduate school, I knew I wanted to study a big question about how people come to develop their first principles: Who am I? What does my life mean? Many of these topics, from the rise of nationalism to the recurrence of religious […]

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Convulsed States: Earthquakes, Prophecy, and the Remaking of Early America – Q&A with Dr. Jonathan T. Hancock

What sparked your interest in this area of research?  I entered graduate school broadly interested in cross-cultural relations in Early America. While working on an undergraduate senior thesis about Protestant missions in the Cherokee Nation, I came across some fascinating material on Cherokee earthquake interpretations in 1811 and 1812. Putting off a science class required for graduation […]

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Charting the Plantation Landscape from Natchez to New Orleans – Q&A with Laura Kilcer

What sparked your interest in this area of research?  The book is a natural extension of my work, which focuses on plantations both in their historical context as well as their cultural history—how their use, definition and significance has evolved into what we know as “plantations” today, which are largely museums, historic sites, and tourist […]

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Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands – Q&A with Dr. Christian Pinnen

Could you give us a short overview of Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands?  Complexion of Empire investigates slavery and race in the borderlands of the lower Mississippi Valley. The book essentially sketches out the first century of sustained European and African contact in the region. I specifically focus on the […]

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Ask An Americanist: Professor Brandon Jett

What led you to/sparked your interest in this area of research? I’ve always had an interested in “revolutionary” eras of history. Moments when things get upended in one way or another. As an undergraduate, I was drawn to the experiences of white and Black Americans in the post-Emancipation/Jim Crow era. Understanding how Black Americans pushed […]

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Ask an Americanist: Dr. Ben Wright

What led you to/sparked your interest in this area of research?  My life project—the question that wakes me up in the middle of the night and that I plan to address with all of my future work—is studying how religion inspires people of faith to confront, or sadly too-often perpetuate, white supremacy. Exploring the abolitionist […]