GREETINGS at the dawn of the academic year, a season both forward-looking and recursive at the institutions of New England and beyond, when old traditions are made new. In this issue, we are pleased to introduce two special features and a first-of-its-kind book review that we believe carry forward the essential work of the Quarterly and enliven the conversation it represents with new perspectives.
This issue contains the first of three sets of papers delivered on September 17, 2022, at the American Political Cultures Forum, a symposium co-sponsored by the Quarterly and the Massachusetts Historical Society. Distinguished historians Gordon Wood and Wim Klooster commence this three-part feature with papers on insurgent, emergent forms of equality in the Revolutionary period. They are introduced by the event's organizer, historian Richard Brown, longstanding member of both our Editorial Board and Board of Directors. We are grateful for this opportunity to feature the work of such an eminent assemblage of scholars and eager to publish selections on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century political cultures of New England in the next two issues. We thank our partners at the MHS and look forward to future collaborations.
We also offer herein the first installment of a periodic feature we have titled “New England Now,” which will examine exhibitions, performances, and other public history projects that revisit and reinterpret aspects of New England history for contemporary audiences. Written by scholars working in museums, the creative arts, digital humanities, as well as in academia, these projects draw on the research in our fields but reach beyond the peer-reviewed essay to illuminate what matters about this history today. We are honored to offer an essay by Christina Michelon, historian of American art and associate curator at the Boston Athenaeum, on the making and message of her exhibition on the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Examining pictorial representations of the fire's ruins, and how the Athenaeum has staged them for the public, Michelon clarifies not only a key moment in the city's history but also the visual technologies and aesthetic traditions that frame our understanding of catastrophe then and now.
Our Reviews section highlights Kirsten Silva Gruesz's stunning contribution to “the new Puritan studies,” an in-depth examination of Cotton Mather's Spanish lessons in the 1690s and his production of the first Spanish-language text published in what is now the United States. Gruesz explores the deep roots of Spanish in New England culture, not only in Mather's writings but through the “Spanish Indians” in his household, lives that have too long remained “undocumented” in early American studies, as she notes. In another first for the Quarterly, we present a review of this work by Alejandra Dubcovsky in both English and Spanish, inspired by Gruesz's historical vision of the role of latinidad in the foundations of American identity, connecting Boston's Puritan elite over three centuries ago to contemporary New England's multilingual metropole.
Thank you for reading.