Academic journal article Early American Literature

MLA Honored Scholar of Early American Literature, 2016: Fredrika J. Teute

Academic journal article Early American Literature

MLA Honored Scholar of Early American Literature, 2016: Fredrika J. Teute

Article excerpt

The Modern Language Association's Forum for American Literature to 1800 is charged with recognizing extraordinary scholarly contributions to the field of early American studies. The Executive Committee for 2016 has named Fredrika J. Teute, for the last quarter of a century the editor of publications at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, as the Honored Scholar of Early American Literature for 2016. This award is only given on rare occasions, but Teute's luminous career--shepherding leading-edge scholarship into publication, mentoring future editors, producing transformative intellectual work of her own, and advocating for the field at every level--makes her unusually deserving of the honor.

Throughout her long career, Teute, though trained as a historian and affiliate faculty in the Department of History at the College of William and Mary, has played a crucial role in shaping the field of early American literature. She has done so not only in the extraordinary number of books that she has shepherded but also through her leadership role in creating interdisciplinary dialogue in early American studies by insisting on cross-field conversations and helping young scholars in history and literary studies speak and write for their interlocutors across the divide. As many can testify, through her personal candor and intellectual engagement at multiple conferences--always listening, querying, and raising the bar--Teute has helped to define questions and catalyze emergent work at the intersection of literary, historical, and cultural studies.

Teute thinks with her authors across intellectual roles, as a historian, a critic, and an editor. Consider, to name just a few, some of the books brought to light under Teute's hand: David Shields's Civil Tongues and Polite Letters (1997), Sandra Gustafson's Eloquence Is Power (2000), Martin Bruckner's Geographic Revolution in Early America (2006), Susan Scott Parrish's American Curiosity (2006), Marion Rust's Prodigal Daughters (2008), Lisa Voigt's Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic (2009), and Patrick Erben's Harmony of the Spirits (2012). She has pushed the field to consider circum-Atlantic perspectives, with conferences in Ghana, Barbados, and Scotland. She has invited scholars to explore the relationship between science and technology in her "Bacon to Bartram" conference (2002). Through her professional efforts, Fredrika has helped widen the arc of early American studies by encouraging work in the study of Native America, French and Spanish colonial North America, the Caribbean, slavery, West Africa, gender, literature, natural history, religion, and material culture. …

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