September 29 -
October 1, 2011


McNeil Center for
Early American Studies,

About This Conference

Convening a diverse group of graduate students from many academic disciplines, this conference will explore the multifaceted power of stories and narrative in early America.  Citizens and subjects of early America deployed stories to demonstrate scientific or professional authority, to shore up or challenge the tenuous bonds of coerced labor and gender ideologies, to manipulate the collective politics of violence, to frame the evolving rhetoric and practice of law, and to fashion personal subjectivities and group identities.  The stories early Americans told appeared in many guises, including didactic literature, rumors, public performances, memoirs, local histories, and court testimonies.  The conference, through its presentations and discussions, should illuminate not only the myriad forms and uses of stories in early America, but also the value of the story as an analytical category accessible to scholars from a wide range of disciplines.

For Twitter users, we have set up a hashtag for this conference, #mceasstories. We will be live-tweeting certain panels, and encourage other conference attendees to do the same. If you have questions, please contact Rachel Herrmann at

Special Thanks To

Amy Baxter-Bellamy, Barbara Natello, and Laura Keenan Spero for their tireless support and wisdom; and to the following individuals whose contributions helped make this conference possible: Joe Rezek, Caitlin Fitz, Cassie Good, Sarah Weatherwax, Nicole Joniec, and Daniel K. Richter.

Sponsored By

The Barra Foundation
McNeil Center for Early American Studies
The Library Company of Philadelphia
Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

Conference mail can be directed to:

The Power of Stories
University of Pennsylvania
3355 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4531.