Conference Program 

The Climate Crisis: Early Americanists Respond    

All times are Eastern Time


Thursday, June 16


10:00 a.m.       Welcome


Emma Hart (McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania)

                        Peter Mancall (Early Modern Studies Institute, University of Southern California)


10:15 a.m.       Opening Exercise


Emily Pawley (Dickinson College) on behalf of the Environmental Historians’ Action Collaborative


10:30 a.m.       Panel 1: Narrating the Climate Crisis


Chair and Comment: Natale A. Zappia (California State University, Northridge)


Sophie Hess (University of Maryland)

“The Iron Forest: Ecological State-Building, Public Memory, and Climate Change Legacies in Maryland”


Blake McGready (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

“Philadelphia Heritage Tourism and the Revolutionary Origins of the Climate Crisis”


Ana Schwartz (University of Texas at Austin)

“The Natural History of the Nopal”


Camille A. Suarez (California State University, Los Angeles) and Kathryn Lasdow (Suffolk University )

“Manipulating Landscapes from East to West: Historicizing Climate Change in the Classroom”


12:00 p.m.       Break


1:00 p.m.         Panel 2: Water: Disappearing and Rising


Chair and Comment: Scout Blum (Troy University)


Claire Campbell (Bucknell University)

“The Vanished Shoreline: Redrawing Our Cities by the Sea”


Craig Colten (Louisiana State University)

“Adaptation to Environmental Change on the Mississippi River Delta”


Mary Draper (Midwestern State University)

“‘Dry Weather’: Managing Drought in the Early Modern British Caribbean”


Julia Lewandoski (University of Southern California)

“Land Tenures in a Watery World: Mapping Aquatic Strategies and Adaptations in Early Modern Louisiana”


2:30 p.m.         Break


3:00 p.m.         Panel 3: Plantationocene


Chair and Comment: Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University)


Leila Blackbird (University of Chicago) and Robin McDowell (Washington University in St. Louis)

“The Plantation-to-Petrochemical Complex of Southeast Louisiana: Reflections on Embodied Research”


John Brooke (Ohio State University) and Eric Herschthal (University of Utah)

“Accounting for the Plantationocene: Slavery’s Carbon Footprint in the Early British Atlantic”


Matthew Daniel Eddy (Durham University)

“James McCune Smith, Climatology, and Health Equity in Antebellum America”


Teresa A. Goddu (Vanderbilt University)

“The (Neo) Slave Narrative and the Plantationocene”


5:00 p.m.         Break


5:30 p.m.         Keynote


Chair:  Bethany Wiggin (Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, University of Pennsylvania)

Elizabeth Ellis (New York University)
“A Fragile Refuge: Indigenous Communities on the Front Lines of Climate Crisis in Louisiana” 




Friday, June 17

10:00 a.m.       Panel 4:  Climate and the Body


Chair and Comment: Anya Zilberstein (Concordia University)


Elaine LaFay (Rutgers University)

“Debility and the Climatic Imagination: Early American Perspectives on Embodiment and Climate”


Elise Mitchell (Princeton University)

“Morbid Geographies: Epidemics and Enslavement in the Atlantic World”


Kate Luce Mulry (California State University, Bakersfield)

“Environment and Reproduction in the Early English Atlantic”


11:30 a.m.       Break


12:30 p.m.       Panel 5: Climate and Conflict


Chair and Comment: Keith Pluymers (Illinois State University)


Timothy Grieve-Carlson (Rice University)

“‘God is not in the Stars’: Early American Religions and the Little Ice Age”


Holly Jackson (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

“All the World Will Burn: William Miller’s Eco-Millenarianism”


Hayley Negrin (University of Illinois at Chicago)

“Return to the Yeokanta/River: Powhatan Women and Environmental Treaty-Making in Early Virginia/Tsenacommacah”


Thomas Wickman (Trinity College)

“A Political Ecology of When and Where: Phenology, Fowling, and Trespass in the 1630s”


2:00 p.m.         Break


2:30 p.m.         Panel 6:  Prehistories of the Green New Deal


Chair and Comment: Mark Chambers (Stony Brook University)


Gustave Lester (Harvard University)

“Mining Climate Solutions: Geology in the Early U.S. Empire”


Emma Moesswilde (Georgetown University)

“Agricultural Afterlives of the ‘Year Without A Summer’: Rural Communities and the Uses of Climate History”


Brian Phillips Murphy (Rutgers University)

“Great Falls: Water, Power, and Alexander Hamilton’s Vision of an Industrial America”


John William Nelson (Texas Tech University)

“Development and Dispossession as a Twofold Policy of Exploitation: The Roots of Environmental (In)justice in the Early Republic”


4:00 p.m.         Break


4:30 p.m.         Final Conversation


                        Scout Blum (Troy University)

Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University)

Emily Pawley (Dickinson College)

Keith Pluymers (Illinois State University)

Anya Zilberstein (Concordia University)


5:30 p.m.         Light Reception


Chair and Comment: Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University)