Book review: The Royalist Revolution by Eric Nelson

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in executive power on both sides of the Atlantic. In January 2017 the Supreme Court had to decide whether the United Kingdom’s EU membership withdrawal notice could be given by Government ministers without Parliament’s prior authorisation. It could not. The royal prerogative was insufficient. [1] In August 2017, President Trump controversially used the power granted to his office to pardon former law official Joe Arpaio. [2] He could. The President has the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States”. [3] Eric Nelson’s ambitious and provocative book The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding successfully demonstrates that these events are in a way deeply connected by uncovering the historical link between the British royal prerogative and the powers of the presidency. Continue reading

From Exceptionalism to Transnationalism: Change and Continuity in American Studies

While traditional disciplines such as social science and history continue to provide American Studies with methods and insights that have proved vital for its development, it is today much more dynamic and versatile than what one might have expected of a field that, as J. C. Rowe observes, has long suffered from an “embattled institutional situation.” Continue reading

Review of Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past, edited by Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Potter

This collection of fifteen essays brings together a range of specialist academic perspectives on the remarkable cultural phenomenon that is Hamilton: an American Musical. It will be of interest to a wide range of people: fans of the show; professional scholars from a range of disciplines; and the general reader. It is an essential library purchase for anyone considering teaching courses which include this musical. Continue reading

Review: Quill Project Launch and Digital History Conference, Pembroke College, Oxford

Grace Mallon reviews the Quill Project Launch and Digital History Conference – a platform that will soon become the definitive source available for studying the origins of the text of the Constitution of the United States (and, subsequently, other state constitutions) and transform access to the founding documents of American constitutional law. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part Three)

The tricky challenge that the Indentured Atlantic presents to scholars is to recover, as far as is possible, the reality of bound servitude while navigating and comprehending the multiple ways in which this reality was articulated, ignored, appropriated, and imagined as part of a diverse range of social, political, economic and racial agendas. The eight dialectical categories and concepts I have broadly sketched out in these posts – singing, ventriloquizing, captivities, slaveries, falling, rising, life-writing, and forgetting – offer one chart for my ongoing research, and perhaps for that of others. But they can surely be joined by others. The Indentured Atlantic, hopefully, will flow on. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part Two)

In concluding the first post in this three-part series I asked how scholars can begin to address the challenge of recovering the transient and elusive oral culture of colonial-era indentured servants. One answer, perhaps, lies in dedicating greater attention to the conceptual rubric of singing, as a mode of communal vocalization that can be connected to the distinctively cohesive and mobile culture of circum-Atlantic performance delineated by theatre scholars such as Joseph Roach, Peter Reed and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part One)

“There was some sleeping, some spewing, some pishing [sic], some shitting, some farting, … some darning, some Blasting their legs and thighs, some their Liver, lungs, lights and eyes. And for to make the shene [sic] the odder, some curs’d Father Mother, Sister, and Brother.”1 As accounts of transatlantic shipboard crossings during the eighteenth century go, this one stands out for its vivid corporeality. But what is truly unusual about it is that it was written by an indentured servant. Continue reading

Fear Itself: Reflections on Native America and the Narrative of Fear

Throughout November 2015, U.S. Studies Online will be publishing a series of posts to mark Native American Heritage Month. In this post Darren Reid (University of Coventry) uses his own research on Native American guerilla warfare to reflect on narratives of fear throughout history and in a post-9/11 world. Continue reading

Conference Review: Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Scottish Association for the Study of America

While SASA is first and foremost a Scottish-based organisation, it is by no means dominated by academics from Scottish universities. Indeed, attendees and speakers travelled north from Newcastle, Coventry, Warwick, London and Dublin, highlighting the Association’s inclusiveness. Continue reading