As of the most recent A.S.A. conference, November 8-11 in Atlanta, the Early American Matters Caucus has two new co-coordinators. Dennis Moore (Florida State Univ.), who founded the Caucus in 2004, is rotating out of his long-time role as the group’s leader, and Sari Altschuler (Northeastern Univ.) , who has co-coordinated with Moore for the past five years, and Peter Reed (Univ. of Mississippi) have agreed to serve as co-coordinators.
Fifteen summers ago, Moore called the A.S.A.’s command module to say that two dozen early Americanists, including some historians and some literature scholars and an art historian and an anthropologist, some senior faculty (Annette Kolodny, Mary Kelley and the late Frank Shuffelton, among others), plus Fredrika Teute and some at-the-time junior faculty (including Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Sandra Gustafson) as well as a couple of graduate students, wanted the A.S.A.’s at-the-time-new array of special interest groups to include one called Early American Matters.
“While understanding that we all move on sometime,” according to Prof. Altschuler, “the caucus will sorely miss Dennis Moore’s leadership. He has been a staunch supporter of the caucus and all of its scholars for years, and we look forward to his continued presence at the A.S.A. and in the caucus for many more. Many -- if not all! -- graduate students passing through A.S.A. have benefitted tremendously not only from Moore’s warmth but from his steadfast, one-of-a-kind support as they move through the ranks from students to faculty. Moore’s voice stands out as perhaps the most consistent voice in advocating for early American matters and early American scholars at the A.S.A., and it is a voice we all have looked forward to hearing at each conference. Moore has organized countless colloquies at A.S.A. conferences as well as at those of other scholarly organizations (e.g., the Society of Early Americanists, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and its international counterpart, and the Modern Language Association), lifting up and celebrating the work of numerous scholars and bringing together voices of all ranks to celebrate each other’s achievements. Through his efforts, a lovely community has been built at the ASA -- one for which those of us who have risen through the ranks of the profession under his careful watch could not be more grateful. Peter Reed and I look forward to continuing the traditions he has built, including the reception and the colloquies, but with the acute knowledge that neither of us is, nor can be, Moore’s replacement.”
Neither Altschuler nor Reed is at all new to the Caucus, Moore noted: “Sari got involved while still a graduate student and agreed, five years ago, to serve with me as co-coordinators, and for more than a decade Peter has been tirelessly helping encourage the rest of us to cook up early-American-flavored panel proposals for the A.S.A.’s annual conferences. It’s wonderful that both are willing to keep that ball a-rolling.”
Again this winter, Professor Reed is circulating reminders about the A.S.A.’s notoriously strict deadline for submitting proposals, maintaining the Caucus’ interest in fostering an early-Americanist presence at, as Moore gently phrases it, “the hyperpresentist A.S.A.” Sending out those reminders means cross-posting announcements via the Caucus’s e-mail list-serve as well as C-19 and the Society of Early Americanists’ EarAm-L.
Both the new co-coordinators also plan to make sure the receptions / mixers at the A.S.A.’s annual conference continue. Moore recalls that Annette Kolodny introduced him and Joni Adamson, at the time leader of the A.S.A’s Environment and Culture Caucus, and suggested there were likely mutually beneficial ways for the two groups to work together. He also recalls having talked with Paul Erickson, another long-time leader of the Caucus -- who set up the Facebook page -- at the end of this Caucus’s business meeting in Albuquerque, in 2008, about the value of having a reception. Over those 10 years, sponsorship of the event has grown to include not only the Environment and Culture Caucus but also, as of four years ago, the A.S.A.’s southeastern-regional affiliate, SASA,. The American Antiquarian Society has consistently provided financial support for the party, which has come to be a favorite destination for graduate students, each of whom receives a chit for a free drink. “When Paul moved from the AAS to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” Moore said, “he was very good about agreeing to continue serving on the Caucus’s informal Working Committee, and his successor at the AAS, Nan Wolverton, has also graciously agreed to serve on this coordinating committee."
The new co-coordinators join Moore in thanking the A.S.A. for having highlighted our caucus, at the front screen of theasa.net, as “Featured ASA Community.