Commonplace
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2006 Contact: James David Moran
(508) 471-2131 (office)
(508) 248-4694 (home)
(508) 783-5085 (cell)
jmoran@mwa.org (e-mail)

Ken Kesey meets Lewis and Clark in Common-place
Online history journal links novel to explorers’ discoveries

Worcester, MA–The January 2006 issue of Common-place, the online history journal, finds historical links between Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and discoveries made by explorers Lewis and Clark.

In "Talk of the Past," George Rohrbacher’s essay, Ken Kesey Meets Lewis and Clark, explains the historical significance of the Native American narrator of Kesey’s classic novel and finds support for the novel’s theme–the destruction of the salmon-based culture of Celilo Falls on the Columbia River–in evidence of bountiful salmon runs discovered by explorers Lewis and Clark.

On the Atlantic Coast, Harvard professor of history Joyce E. Chaplin experienced the Gulf Stream in the same way as Benjamin Franklin, who first created a chart of it in 1768. Chaplin sailed aboard a multi-masted teaching vessel and using the same types of devices as Franklin, a wine bottle and a wooden keg, she recreated his measurements of subsurface seawater and plotted them on a map. Her essay, Overboard, describes her experiences and notes the similarities between hydrography of Franklin’s era and oceanography of today.

The vast beauty of the American landscape is the subject of two photo essays.

In Hayden’s Gaze, Tom Rea tells how photographer William Henry Jackson joined the 1870 United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories led by physician and geologist, Ferdinand V. Hayden. Jackson’s photos, Rea writes, depict the depth, space and hints of future human occupation of the Oregon Trail.

In "Object Lessons," John E. Crowley’s essay, Scenographia Americana vividly describes a twenty-eight print series of North American landscapes from Quebec to Guadeloupe, "Unquestionably the most impressive representation of Anglo-American landscapes in the eighteenth century," Crowley writes.

Writer Mary Beth Norton’s essay, Salem Witchcraft in the Classroom with bewitching results, tells how undergraduates in one of her seminars produced original research on the topic and successfully presented their results at a national conference. The experience convinced Norton the value of integrating undergraduates into research groups early in their college careers.

Giving Voices, by Paul Lindholt, four poems from seventeenth century America celebrate individuals from low and middling classes. Their stories, the writer notes, present "a pleasing medium between the two extremes–between history written with the help of the muse, that is, and history written as if it were a science."

In "Tales from the Vault," Sharon Block’s essay, Doing More with Digitization, shows how historians can move beyond keyword searches to new methodologies that take advantage of the growing body of full-text resources. She describes topic modeling, which provides a valuable sense of the contents of enormous sets of documents and can suggest answers to an array of questions about the relationships of words, texts, and historical subjects.

Teaching the Declaration of Independence through the musical comedy, 1776, writer Adrienne Kupper shows that the arts can be a powerful tool to motivate students to learn about history. Her essay, Using 1776, can be found in "The Common School."

The current issue of Common-place also contains the following book reviews: David C. Ward’s Charles Willson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic by Wendy Bellion; Irene Quenzler Brown and Richard D. Brown’s The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler: A Story of Rape, Incest, and Justice in Early America by Peter Charles Hoffer; Neil Kamil’s Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots’ New World, 1517-1751 by Leslie Choquette; and Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf’s Empire and Nation: The American Revolution in the Atlantic World by Andrew Shankman

The January 2006 issue of Common-place will be on-line through March and then available among the journal’s archived issues on the website. Individuals may subscribe to the journal to be notified of publication of each issue. Common-place is published quarterly, in October, January, April, and July.

About Common-place

Common-place is a common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks–and listens–to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. Common-place readers can join in the discussion of any of the journal’s features by visiting the "Common-place Coffeeshop," a message board on the website. Common-place is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the Florida State University Department of History.

About the American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is a learned society and independent research library, specializing in all aspects of American history and culture through 1876. Founded in 1812 by the patriot printer and publisher Isaiah Thomas, AAS is the third oldest historical organization in the United States and the first to take the whole nation as its scope. The AAS library is the preeminent repository of pre-twentieth-century American printed materials and related manuscript and graphic arts materials in the world.

The Society also sponsors an array of programs to encourage the use of its collections and to foster a greater understanding of American history. The main office for Common-place is at AAS, 185 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609-1634; telephone (508) 755-5221.

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