John Quinlan Murphy Lecture: Grounded Histories of Climate in the Native Northeast and Colonial New England with Thomas Wickman

July 9, 2022, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Seasonal knowledge has been central to Indigenous sovereignty and collective well-being in the Northeast for millennia, but a “vernal bias” has prevented scholars from fully comprehending the importance of winters in the Native Northeast. Snow-packed trails connected Native nations long before Europeans ever wintered on the continent, and winter has been a season for education and storytelling long before the founding of colleges and libraries in the region. Average temperatures were especially cold in the seventeenth century, during the coldest period of the Little Ice Age. Early English colonists were unaccustomed to stable snow cover, and they were slow to develop an infrastructure for winter travel and communication, but settlers belatedly
adjusted in ways that made winters harder for Indigenous people in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. By producing grounded histories of climate change in the past, scholars can suggest new ways of understanding and responding to twenty-first century anthropogenic climate change.


Tom Wickman is the author of Snowshoe Country: An Environmental and Cultural History of Winter in the Early American Northeast (Cambridge University Press, 2018). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of History and American Studies at Trinity College.


The lecture will be followed by a reception.


Date: Saturday, July 9, 2022- 4:00 pm


Redwood Harrison Room




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