Offered to the W&M campus each fall and co-sponsored by the Departments of History, Anthropology, and English, and the American Studies program, the Vast Early America Lecture series features an OI author whose work has strong cross-disciplinary appeal to scholars of history, literature, gender and sexuality, race and identity, and cultural studies. While created with the William & Mary student and faculty community in mind, the lecture is open to all.
On October 2, 2017, we welcomed Robert Morrissey, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois, for a talk titled “Hiding in the Tallgrass: Art and Identity at the Center of Early America.” Professor Morrissey’s talk focused on a group of Native American hide paintings dating from the 17th century now housed in Paris. Regarded as some of the most beautiful examples of indigenous bison hide art ever collected in the contact period, these objects have been appreciated by art historians, but often ignored by historians. By exploring several mysteries about these fascinating robes, Professor Morrissey revealed the story that these objects tell about a crucial but overlooked center of power in early America.
The first Vast Early America Lecture took place on September 19, 2016. Miles P. Grier, Assistant Professor of English, Queens College, City University of New York, gave a talk titled “Inkface: or, Learning to Read Racial Character in the English Atlantic.” Professor Grier’s talk blended aspects of the history of slavery, tattooing, stage cosmetics, and the properties of inks and dyes—as they bear on day-to-day life in England’s Atlantic empire.