The Future of Loyalist Studies

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As part of our partnership with the new early Canadian history blog Borealia, we’ll be posting highlights from that website here every Saturday in November.

By Christopher F. Minty

benjamin-west-john-eardley-wilmot-1812-yale-center-for-british-art-paul-mellon-collection“Intractable issues vex loyalist studies.” These were the words Ruma Chopra used in an essay, published in History Compass, in 2013. She’s right. As of mid-2015, loyalist studies has come to an important juncture, and the paths historians, researchers, and students go down in choosing their approaches to loyalist studies, within the next decade or so, will affect scholarship for well over a generation.[1]

To be sure, in recent years loyalist studies has made considerable strides. Scholarship by Chopra, Maya Jasanoff, Judith Van Buskirk, Phillip Papas, Keith Mason, Christopher Sparshott, and the writers and editors of The Loyal Atlantic and Loyalism and the Formation of the British World, among others, have pushed loyalist studies forward into new, exciting areas. Above all, they have placed it within an Atlantic framework and questioned what it meant to be a “loyalist.”

This scholarship, in turn, is being driven forward by a number of graduate students and junior faculty. The likes of Kimberly Nath (Delaware), Pete Walker (Columbia), Sophie Jones (Liverpool), Christina Carrick (BU), Justin Clement (UC, Davis), Rachel Hermann (Southampton), and Don Johnson (North Dakota State), among others, are bringing new methodologies and outlooks to loyalist studies or aspects of it. But with this upturn in scholarship, where are we to go from here? [Read More]

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