Early American Conversations Podcast Series

Early American Conversations is a podcast series from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies that invites listeners to dive deeper into the early histories and cultures of North America and the Atlantic world.

Tune in for in-depth conversations with authors of the most recent publications in the Early American Studies book series at Penn Press, as well as interviews with select authors from the series backlist and other special guests.

Available on Spotify, the series is a collaboration between Penn Press, Penn Libraries, and the McNeil Center. Our hope is to expand our community of scholars, public historians, students, and publishers.


Season Two, 2023-2024

Episode 1

McNeil Center Fellow and Season Two podcast host Adam Xavier McNeil interviews Penn PhD Candidate and former Early American Conversations host Anders Bright about the origins of Early American Conversations, memorable moments of his hosting tenure, and when Bright turned the tables on his dissertation advisor and asked her historiographic questions reminiscent of his comprehensive exams.

Episode 2

McNeil Center Fellow Adam McNeil interviews Robert Lockhart, Senior Editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press. The interview discusses highlights of Lockhart's career, including one of the first books he worked on at Penn Press, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery by Jennifer L. Morgan, a cornerstone book that helped Lockhart develop the early American series into the robust series that it is today. 

Episode 3

McNeil Center Fellow Adam Xavier McNeil interviews Cassandra Pybus about her essay “Recovered Lives as a Window into the Enslaved Family," from the 2014 book, Biography and the Black Atlantic, edited by Lisa A. Lindsey and John Wood Sweet. Pybus discusses her research process, the extraordinary lives of the Thompson family from Norfolk, Virginia throughout the colonial and American Revolutionary eras, and one of her enduring legacies, Blackloyalist.info.


Episode 4

McNeil Center Fellow Adam Xavier McNeil interviews Morehouse College Professor of History, Frederick C. Knight, about his new book, Black Elders: The Meaning of Age in American Slavery and Freedom. During this interview, Knight discusses the origins of his inquiry into the history of Black eldership within the early African Diaspora, the role of Black elders in northern and southern life and culture, and how the intersection of race, gender, and age affected the development of Black institutional life in Philadelphia.

Credits: Adam Xavier McNeil, podcast host; Francis Russo, music composition and editing; Cassandra Hradil, logo design.

Season One, 2022-2023

Emma Hart, Richard S. Dunn Director, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Episode 1
Kathleen Brown, David Boies Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, author of Undoing Slavery: Bodies, Race, and Rights in the Age of Abolition (Penn Press, 2023).

Episode 2
Elizabeth Ellis, Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University, author of The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South (Penn Press, 2022).

Episode 3
Tara Bynum, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Iowa, 2022-2023 MCEAS Barra Sabbatical Fellow, and author of Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America (University of Illinois Press, 2023).  



Inaugural Podcast Host
Anders Bright, 2022-2023 Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellow at the McNeil Center and Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

Digital publishing strategies and editorial development
Cosette Bruhns Alonso, Penn Libraries’ and Penn Press' Contemporary Publishing Fellow

Music composition and editing
Francis Russo, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

Logo design
Cassandra Hradil, Digital Humanities Specialist, Price Lab for Digital Humanities and Penn Libraries Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship

Project consultant
Emma Hart, Richard S. Dunn Director, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania

Project consultant
Robert Lockhart, Penn Press Senior Editor