Monday, December 7, 2009

Dr. Karen Ordahl Kupperman will present at Jamestowne Society’s First California Company Annual Meeting and Luncheon on January 9

For its annual meeting on Saturday, January 9, the First California Company of the Jamestowne Society will feature one of the most esteemed scholars on Jamestown and early English settlement in North America, Dr. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, the Silver Professor of History, New York University. She will be joined by honored guest, the Governor of the Jamestowne Society, Carter Branham Snow Furr, Esq., of Norfolk, Virginia.

The meeting and luncheon will be held at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, 15150 San Dieguito Road, Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Reservations are requested by December 15, and more information can be found at

According to First California Company’s website, “Several First California Company members heard her speak at the Huntington Library’s conference honoring Jamestown’s 400th anniversary. They agreed that she was a very stimulating, accessible speaker who left her audience with new information and a broader perspective. One said she is the best ever heard on Jamestown. Dr. Kupperman has won many prestigious fellowships, memberships, and awards, including the American Historical Association Prize in Atlantic History in 2000 and the AHA’s award for the best book in American history in 1995.”

From her NYU web page, we see that her research interests include the early modern Atlantic world; colonization; Native American history.

It goes on to say, “Karen Ordahl Kupperman's scholarship focuses on the Atlantic world in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly contacts and ventures between Europe and North America and the Caribbean. One part of her work deals with the ways English promoters and settlers wrote about the American Indians, and the ways that both Indians and English tried to interpret the other and to incorporate unprecedented opportunities and challenges. All parties to new relationships tried to fit the others into their own understanding of human nature and society, and to manipulate unprecedented situations in terms of that understanding.

“Another major theme in her work is the difficulties colonial leaders faced in trying to create orderly, functioning societies in America. Colonial founders discovered that none of their assumptions about how to create societies was realistic in the absence of the kinds of sanctions that shaped behavior in Europe. These difficulties forced them to think deeply about how society actually works, and about what might be distinctive about English society. Innovative solutions emerged and distinctive forms were created as a result.

“A third thread of her research deals with the American environment and its impact on early European migrants. The climate in America was far different from their expectations and this posed intellectual and physical problems. For one thing, America's east coast was much colder than comparable latitudes in western Europe's maritime climate and reporters therefore had to explain why New York, for example, is so cold despite being so far south of London. This problem was exacerbated by the severe Little Ice Age conditions that prevailed in the colonial period, and these conditions transformed life for Indians as well as newcomers. Early theories about the human relationship to the environment began to emerge.

“Kupperman's present research is an attempt to reconstruct the climate of the Little Ice Age in America and to analyze Europeans' attempts to make sense of the climatic phenomena they encountered, especially as they competed with Indian leaders for control of the natural world.”

Her recent books include the following:
The Jamestown Project (Cambridge, MA, 2007)
Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony, 2nd edition (Lanham, MD, 2007)
Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca, 2000)
Consulting Editor, CD-ROM of Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies, 1574-1739 (Routledge, 2000)
Major Problems in American Colonial History, 2nd ed. (Boston, 2000, 1st ed. 1992)
America in European Consciousness (Chapel Hill, 1995)
Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge, 1993)
Captain John Smith: A Select Edition of His Writings (Chapel Hill, 1988)

For answers to questions and other information, contact the First California Company at

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