American History Reading Group

Sometimes Americanists can feel isolated in their departments because they are surrounded by American scholars of other disciplines in an American studies department, or other historians in a History department. One quick and cheap way to combat research isolation is to create a reading group!

While organising conferences or seminar series can take a lot of administrative time and need funding, a reading group is a siple way to get researchers together for an informal discussion without having a huge outlay of cash.

In Manchester, I have recently founded the Manchester-MMU American History reading group and we had our first meeting last week. We discussed Walter Russell Mead’s book ‘God and Gold’, a lively book that produced a correspondingly lively discussion!

As well as sharing our thoughts on this book over a civilised glass of wine, we also discussed our own research and teaching experiences. The meeting also allowed scholars who knew of each other’s work to put names to faces. So, almost the perfect academic encounter really, and all for very little outlay of time or money.

At our next meeting we’re reading Natalie Zacek’s ‘Settler Society in the English Leeward Islands’: looking forward to it already! Why don’t you try setting up your own reading group?


About Catherine Armstrong

Dr Catherine Armstrong is a Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in North American History. She is a former teaching fellow in History at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes University. Catherine was also Director of Historical Studies in the Open Studies department at the University of Warwick. Her first book ‘Writing North America in the Seventeenth Century’ was published by Ashgate in June 2007. As a long-time jobseeker for an academic role herself, Catherine is in a unique position to understand and offer her knowledge and experience to those developing an academic career.

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