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History conference to explore early America

by Cindy Weiss - September 25, 2006

Did Christopher Columbus discover globalization?

The global nature of the Early Atlantic world will be discussed by historians from around the country at the second annual James L. and Shirley A. Draper National Graduate Conference in Early American Studies on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and on Sept. 30 at Mystic Seaport.

"When Columbus set sail for the Indies, he not only discovered a New World for Europe; he also launched a great age of globalization, whose consequences are still unfolding in the 21st century," says Robert Gross, the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Distinguished Chair in Early American History.

The Early Atlantic world that developed from his discovery brought Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans into contact and collision, and will be the theme of the conference: "Imagining Environments: Navigating Space and Place in the Early Atlantic World."

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor, professor of history at the University of California-Davis, will deliver the keynote address, "The Culture of Land on the Late Colonial Frontier," on Sept. 28, at 4 p.m., in the Dodd Center.

Papers and discussions at the conference will explore topics ranging from shipwrecks in early America to hogs roaming the streets of Manhattan. Findings about cartography, slavery, farming practices, and Atlantic navigation will be discussed.

The final day, Sept. 30, will take place at Mystic Seaport, where participants will tour the ship-building center that was once crucial to Americans' participation in the Atlantic economy.

The annual conference is organized by graduate students in the history department, with the support of the Draper Chair. This year's committee is directed by graduate students Chad Reid, John Kincheloe, Christine Walker, and Anthony Antonucci.

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