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Master and Slave in Colonial New England

Allegra di Bonaventura

Allegra di Bonaventura

For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England (Norton/Liveright, 2013), by Allegra di Bonaventura (PhD 2008, History; JD 2002), assistant dean at the Graduate School, explores family life in early New England and exposes the surprisingly deep legal, religious, and familial interconnections among New Englanders of every social caste. At the core of her book is Joshua Hempstead (1678-1758), a Connecticut shipwright and farmer who kept a diary documenting his daily life, work, family, and community from 1711 to 1758. His house is now a museum in New London.

“I had originally intended to do a focused case study of early American men’s domestic lives through Hempstead and his diary, with a particular interest in relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants. Over the course of my research, however, I learned that Joshua held another New Londoner, Adam Jackson (1700-1764), as his slave for more than thirty years. The two men lived and worked together in very close quarters that entire period. My topic eventually shifted to encompass the domestic and family lives of both Hempstead and Jackson.” The book covers three generations of both families, which included “strange domestic goings-on like bestiality, adultery, murder, cross-dressing, abuse, divorce, and infanticide,” she says.

Joseph Ellis, author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, praised the book, saying, “This is an extraordinary story about ordinary people in a pre-revolutionary New England family. Among the people are a master and his slave, the only account of such psychological depth I have seen in all the family histories of New England. Impeccably researched, elegantly written, For Adam’s Sake is a model of its kind.”

“The murders, attacks against churches, suicides, and illicit sex in For Adam’s Sake kept me turning pages, but Allegra di Bonaventura’s best stories are of black New Englander John Jackson… and his son Adam, who for half a century knew slavery at its most intimate,” wrote Woody Holton, author of Abigail Adams.

Dean di Bonaventura graduated from Middlebury College with a joint major in German and history and a minor in French, then studied German literature at the University of Mainz, where she earned a Master of Arts degree. From there, she went to the UK to pursue a diploma in business studies from the London School of Economics. That led to three years on Wall Street doing investment research and portfolio management for an investment counsel firm. The next year she fulfilled a life-long dream and traveled the Andean spine of South America. In the early 1990s, she came to Yale to earn her PhD. After completing her MA and MPhil and having two children, she embarked on her dissertation research, with John Demos as her adviser and former Dean Jon Butler as a member of her dissertation committee.


Auer Joins Bates College as Chief Academic Officer

Matthew R. Auer

Matthew R. Auer

Matthew R. Auer (PhD 1996, Forestry & Environmental Studies), an expert in environmental and energy policy, sustainable development, and foreign aid, became dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, in July. At Bates, Auer is the chief academic officer, with responsibilities for faculty recruitment, review, tenure and promotion, and faculty career development in the arenas of instruction, scholarship, and community engagement. His portfolio includes all academic departments and programs, the Bates College Museum of Art, the Career Development Center, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, The Learning Commons, the Mathematics and Statistics Workshop, the Office for External Grants, the Office of the Registrar and Academic Systems, Writing at Bates, and Athletics.

Auer came to Bates from Indiana University, where he served as dean of the Hutton Honors College and professor of public and environmental affairs. He earned numerous teaching awards, including the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, IU’s highest honor for instruction.

He has written or co-written more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on environmental policy. His paper, “Communication and Competition in Environmental Studies,” published in Policy Sciences in 2010, earned the journal’s Harold D. Lasswell award for best article. His edited 2004 volume, Restoring Cursed Earth: Appraising Environmental Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe and Russia, was nominated for the International Studies Association’s Sprout Award for best book in global environmental studies. Former editor-in-chief of the public policy journal, Policy Sciences, he currently serves on the Executive Council of the Society of Policy Scientists.

In addition to his scholarship and academic positions, Auer has served in a variety of public policy roles. He was senior adviser to the U.S. Forest Service from 2001 to 2006, and during that time was a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Forum on Forests and to the International Tropical Timber Council. For more than 20 years he has developed, implemented, and evaluated energy and environmental aid programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development and for foreign aid agencies in Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Before coming to Yale, Auer earned a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts and an AB in anthropology from Harvard.


American Studies Alumnus Named Dean at UMBC

Scott E. Casper

Scott E. Casper

Scott E. Casper (PhD 1992, American Studies) is the new dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he promotes interdisciplinary teaching and research; supervises strategic planning and budget development; oversees faculty recruitment and tenure, teaching, research, and more.

His own research explores the ways 19th-century Americans understood and commemorated the past, both in written texts and at historical sites. He is author of Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine (Hill & Wang, 2008). His first book, Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press, 1999), explores what biography meant to American biographers, critics, publishers, and readers from the founding of the nation to the turn of the 20th century. This book won the SHARP Book Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing.

Casper is a specialist in American book history: the study of printing, publishing, authorship, and reading in the United States. He co-edited Perspectives on American Book History: Artifacts and Commentary (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), the first major textbook designed for courses in American book history; and A History of the Book in America, Volume 3 (The Book, 1840-1880). He was associate editor of The Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), responsible for all the U.S.-related entries in this global reference work.

He has held research fellowships at the National Humanities Center and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, among other institutions, and edits the annual “Textbooks and Teaching” section of the Journal of American History. He currently chairs the Advisory Board for the SAT Examination in U.S. History and serves as a delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies. He has worked extensively with K-12 history and social studies educators.

He joined UMBC from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was a member of the faculty from 1992 to 2013, chaired the faculty senate and the history department, and served as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He earned his AB from Princeton before coming to Yale for graduate studies.