Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

WMQ-EMSI Workshop – Online Submission

“Early American Environmental Histories”
Call for Proposals

The Omohundro Institute and the University of Southern California-Huntington Library Early Modern Studies Institute are pleased to announce the twelfth in a series of William and Mary Quarterly-EMSI workshops designed to identify and encourage new trends in understanding the history and culture of early North America and its wider world.

Participants will attend a two-day meeting at the Huntington Library (May 19–20, 2017) to discuss a precirculated chapter-length portion of their current work in progress along with the work of other participants. Subsequently, the convener may write an essay elaborating on the issues raised at the workshop for publication in the William and Mary Quarterly. The convener of this year’s workshop is James Rice of Tufts University.

Environmental history came of age as a distinctive field, with its own journal and professional association, in the 1970s and 1980s. Several of the most enduringly influential publications from that era, including now-classic works by writers such as Alfred Crosby, William Cronon, Karen Ordahl Kupperman, and Carolyn Merchant, centered on (or dealt extensively with) colonial North America. After 1990, however, early American topics figured less prominently in journals and conferences dedicated to environmental history. That trend has begun to reverse in recent years with a burst of innovative new scholarship on early American environmental history.

This workshop seeks to bring together scholars who are crafting the next generation of early American environmental histories. Papers that challenge conventional periodizations while remaining recognizably early American are especially encouraged, as are those centered on Caribbean, Canadian, Mesoamerican, the entire North American continent, oceanic, and transatlantic topics. We encourage contributions by scholars from a wide range of disciplines. Among the questions we anticipate exploring: How and in what ways does environmental history expand the archive? What theories of historical causation does environmental history privilege? How does environmental history challenge or support the accepted chronologies and geographic scales that frame our histories? What new light does environmental history shed on topics of abiding interest to early Americanists? What contributions can early Americanists make to the field of environmental history as a whole?

Proposals for workshop presentations should include a brief abstract (250 words) describing the applicant’s current research project, an equally brief discussion of the particular methodological, geographic, or historiographical issues they are engaging (which will be circulated to all participants along with the chapter or essay), and a short c.v. The organizers especially encourage proposals from midcareer scholars; graduate students who have not defended their dissertations by the application deadline are ineligible. Materials should be submitted online by November 15, 2016.

Questions may be directed to Joshua Piker, Editor, William and Mary Quarterly, at

The workshop will cover travel and lodging costs for participants.