Roundtables, Retrospectives, Symposia, and “State of the Field” Essays

This is an evolving list of roundtables, retrospectives, symposia, and “state of the field” essays in history.

The classification is imprecise, but for my purposes:

  • Any essay or collection of essays that is explicitly responding to or inspired by a single book or journal article is under the “Roundtables & Retrospectives” category, regardless of how the journal classified it.
  • “Symposia & Forums” refers to topic-based discussions, like class in the Early Republic, with multiple contributors and articles, regardless of how the journal classified it.  [WMQ calls these things “roundtables.” Oops.]
  • “State of the Field Essays” I’ve reserved for single-article assessments of the field, even in the rare case the essay has more than one author.

Leave contributions in the comments and I will add them, even if they’re not “my field,” which as you can see is rather mushy to begin with.

Roundtables & Retrospectives

Lenore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: men and women of the English middle class, 1780–1850 

  • Kathryn Gleadle, “Revisiting Family Fortunes: reflections on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of L. Davidoff & C. Hall (1987) Family Fortunes: men and women of the English middle class, 1780–1850 (London: Hutchinson),” Women’s History Review 16, no. 5 (2007): 773-782.

Mary E. Kelley, Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America’s Republic

  • “Women and Civil Society: A Symposium,” Journal of the Early Republic 28, no. 5 (Spring 2008): 23-82. Introductory essay by Caroline Winterer. Contributors: Philip Gould, Jeanne Boydston, Rosemarie Zagarri, John L. Brooke.

William J. Novak, The People’s Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America

  • The People’s Welfare at 20,” American Journal of Legal History 57, no. 2 (June 2017): 223-55. Introductory essay by Roman J. Hoyos. Contributors: Gautham Rao, Kyle G. Volk, Kate Masur, Karen M. Tani, and William J. Novak.

James Brewer Stewart “The Emergence of Racial Modernity and the Rise of the White North, 1790-1840,” Journal of the Early Republic 18, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 181-236.

  • “SHA Roundtable Discussion” Contributors: James Brewer Stewart,  Jean R. Soderlund, James Oliver Horton, Ronald G. Walters.

Leslie Woodcock Tentler,  “On the margins: The state of American Catholic history,” American Quarterly 45, no. 1 (1993): 104-127.

  • “Symposium Review,” U.S. Catholic Historian 21, no. 2 (Spring 2003): 77-126. Contributors: Leslie Tentler, John Bodnar, Madeline Duntley, Patricia O’Connell Killen, Joseph A. McCartin, John T. McGreevy.

Donald Worster, “Transformations of the Earth: Toward an Agroecological Perspective in History,” Journal of American History 75, no. 4 (March 1990): 1087-1106

  • Roundtable in same issue. Contributors: Alfred W. Crosby, Richard White, Carolyn Merchant, William Cronon, Stephen J. Pyne, Donald Worster 1107-1147.

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Symposia & Forums

“Beyond Roles, Beyond Spheres: Thinking about Gender in the Early Republic,” William & Mary Quarterly 46, no. 3 (July 1989): 565-585. Contributors: Linda K. Kerber, Nancy F. Cott, Robert Gross, Lynn Hunt, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, and Christine M. Stansell.

“The Future of Early American History,” William & Mary Quarterly 50, no. 2 (April 1993): 298-424. Contributors: Fred Anderson and Andrew R. L. Cayton, Kathleen M. Brown, Saul Cornell, Allan Kulikoff, Russell R. Menard, Michael Meranze, Daniel K. Richter, Jon F. Sensbach, Darren Marcus Staloff, Daniel Vickers.

“Self and Subject,” Journal of American History 89, no. 1 (June 2002): 17-53. Introductory essay: Richard White. Contributors: Karen Halttunen, Philip J. Deloria, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, John Demos, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Michael O’Brien.

“Class in the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 25, no. 2 (Winter 2005): 523-64. Introductory essay: Gary Kornblith, Contributors: Seth Rockman, Jennifer L. Goloboy, Andrew M. Schocket, Christopher Clark.

“American Religion and Class,” Religion and American Culture 15, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 1-29. Contributors: David G. Hackett, Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, R. Laurence Moore, Leslie Woodcock Tentler.

“Black Founders,” William & Mary Quarterly 64, no. 1 (January 2007): 83-166. Introductory essay: Richard S. Newman and Roy E. Finkenbine. Contributors: Roy E. Finkenbine, Peter P. Hinks, Richard S. Newman, Julie Winch, Stephen G. Hall, Manisha Sinha, Richard S. Newman, and Douglass Mooney.

“Colonial History and National History: Reflections on a Continuing Problem,” William & Mary Quarterly 64, no. 2 (April 2007): 235-326. Introductory essay: Jack P. Greene. Contributors: David Armitage, Eliga H. Gould, Michael Zuckerman, Kariann Yokota, Adam Rothman, Robin L. Einhorn, Jack P. Greene, and Max M. Edling.

Civil Rights and the Cold War At Home: Postwar Activism, Anticommunism, and the Decline of the Left,” American Communist History 11, no. 1 (2012): 1-80. Introductory essay: Daniel J. Leab. Contributors: Eric Arnesen, Dayo F. Gore, Alex Lichtenstein, Judith Stein, Robert H. Zieger.

“The Future of Civil War Era Studies,” Journal of the Civil War Era 2, no. 1 (March 2012): 3-10. Contributors: Stephen Berry, Michael T. Bernath, Seth Rockman, Barton A. Myers, Anne Marshall, Lisa M. Brady, Judith Giesberg, Jim Downs. [The linked essays are fuller versions of what’s in the print version]

“Interchange: The History of Capitalism,” Journal of American History 101, no. 2 (September 2014): 503-536. Contributors: Sven Beckert, Angus Burgin, Peter James Hudson, Louis Hyman, Naomi Lamoreaux, Scott Marler, Stephen Mihm, Julia Ott, Philip Scranton, Elizabeth Tandy Shermer.

“The Struggle Over the Constitution in the Workplace,” The Regulatory Review, March 30, 2015. Contributors: Sophia Z. Lee, Gillian Metzger, Nicholas Parrillo, Mark Tushnet, Deborah Malamud, and Seth Kreimer.

“Politics in and of Women’s History in the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 36, no. 2 (Summer 2016): 313-357. Introductory essay: Carol Lassiter. Contributors: Lori D. Ginzberg, Patricia Cline Cohen, Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, Amy Dru Stanley, Jennifer L. Morgan.

“Setting the Table: Historians, Popular Writers, and Food History,” Journal of American History 103, no. 3 (December 2016): 656-699. Introductory essay: Matt Garcia. Contributors: E. Melanie DuPuis, Madeline Y. Hsu, Mark Padoongpatt, Monica Perales, Jeffrey M. Pilcher,

“The Future of Reconstruction Studies,” Journal of the Civil War Era 7, no. 1 (March 2017): 3-15. Introductory essay: Luke E. Harlow. Contributors: W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Gary Gerstle, Thomas C. Holt, Martha S. Jones, Mark A. Noll, Adrienne Petty, Lisa Tetrault, Elliott West, Kidada E. Williams.  [The linked essays are fuller versions of what’s in the print version]

“Symposium on Hamilton: An American Musical,” Journal of the Early Republic  37, no,. 2 (Summer 2017): 251-303. Introductory essay: Catherine E. Kelly. Contributors: Joanne B. Freeman, Andrew M. Schocket, Heather S. Nathans, Marvin McAlister, Benjamin L. Carp, and Nancy Isenberg.

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State(s) of the Field(s)

Leslie Woodcock Tentler,  “On the margins: The state of American Catholic history,” American Quarterly 45, no. 1 (1993): 104-127. (See 2003 retrospective above)

Brian Balogh, “The State of the State Among Historians,” Social Science History 27, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 455-463.

Leah Price, “Reading: The State of the Discipline,” Book History  7 (2004): 303-320.

K. P. Van Anglen, “Transcendentalism and Religion: The State of Play,” Literature Compass 5/6 (2008): 1010–1024.

Kim Phillips-Fein, “Conservatism: A State of the Field,” Journal of American History 98, no. 3 (December 2011): 723-743.

Michael E. Woods, “What Twenty-First-Century Historians Have Said about the Causes of Disunion: A Civil War Sesquicentennial Review of the Recent Literature,” Journal of American History 99, no. 2 (September 2012): 415-439.

“The Big Tent of U.S. Women’s and Gender History: A State of the Field,” Journal of American History (December 2012): 793-838. Introductory essay by Cornelia H. Dayton and Lisa Levenstein.

Paul S. Sutter, “The World with Us: The State of American Environmental History,” Journal of American History 100, no. 1 (June 2013): 94-119.

Boundaries of the State in U.S. History, ed. James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Christopher Grasso, “The Religious and the Secular in the Early American Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 36, no. 2 (2016): 359-388.

Carole Emberton, “Unwriting the Freedom Narrative: A Review Essay,” Journal of Southern History  82, no. 2 (May 2016):  377-394.

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