SHEAR Leadership Spotlights: Meet the SHEAR Nominating Committee (or, as we affectionately term it: Nom Com)

According to the SHEAR Constitution, the duties of the Nominating Committee include:

  1. To nominate annually for the approval of the membership a candidate for the position of President Elect.
  2. To nominate annually pairs of candidates for election by the membership to the Advisory Council.
  3. To nominate annually pairs of candidates for election by the membership to the Nominating Committee itself.
  4. To make nominations consistent with the Society’s membership diversity in gender, race, geographical area, type of organization represented, historical field, and time period.

Newly Elected Members

Chernoh Sesay, DePaul University

My recent participation in SHEAR has been energetic and reflective of my commitment to having meaningful and even difficult conversations about the intersections of historical study, justice and equality. The encouragement and support of particular SHEAR members has been pivotal in making SHEAR a relatively new scholarly home for me. I first attended SHEAR in 2015 where I presented a paper on Maria Stewart for a panel titled, “New Perspectives on Antebellum African American Religion.” Since then I have written a book review essay for the Journal of the Early Republic, and I have participated in roundtable and plenary sessions in 2016 and 2019. I served on the 2018 national conference committee where I organized a panel, “Africa and Africans In and Beyond the Republic.” The editors of the JER brought this session to print for the recent forum in the JER, volume 20, number 2, summer 2020. My participation in SHEAR has invigorated my work and moved me to further my service in this vital organization.

Spencer McBride, Joseph Smith Papers

Since I joined SHEAR in 2011, I have considered it an intellectual home. I am an Associate Managing Historian of the Joseph Smith Papers, a project on which I have worked since 2014. I earned my doctorate in history at Louisiana State University and published my first book, Pulpit and Nation, in 2016 with the University of Virginia Press. My second book (which benefited immensely from SHEAR’s inaugural Second Book Workshop) is an examination of Joseph Smith’s ill-fated 1844 presidential campaign which will be published by Oxford University Press in May 2021. Since I presented my first paper at SHEAR in 2011, I have missed just one of the organization’s annual meetings and keep the third weekend in July permanently reserved on my calendar. I welcome the opportunity to give back to SHEAR and to do what I can to make it a welcome home for as many scholars who desire to be part of this community.

Second Year Members

Joanna Cohen, Queen Mary University of London

I am a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, and I am currently at work on a book about property and loss from the Gold Rush to Reconstruction. But before I returned to London, I completed my PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and published my book Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America with Penn Press in 2017. My scholarly roots in Philadelphia were further cemented by a fellowship at the McNeil Center in Early American Studies, and finally my experiences at SHEAR. I gave my first paper at SHEAR in 2007 (although that meeting was actually in Worcester!) and thanks to encouragement and advice offered by fellow SHEARites, turned that paper into my first article, which came out in The Journal of the Early Republic in 2010. That experience was one of such welcome, intellectual excitement, and support it helped me to see what a scholarly community at its best could do. It’s a privilege to be part of the Nominating Committee now and continue the vital work of creating a diverse and vibrant organization that will shape the study of the early republic for years to come.

Sara Georgini, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

I earned my doctorate in history from Boston University in 2016. For over a decade, I have worked at the Adams Papers editorial project based at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where I am series editor for The Papers of John Adams. I am the author of Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family (Oxford University Press, 2019), and I write about early American history, thought, and culture for Smithsonian. As a public historian, I am committed to ensuring the preservation of and access to primary sources—a core value that I see reflected in SHEAR’s people, programs, and plans. Since 2010, I have participated in the SHEAR community by presenting research, attending the annual meeting, serving as a Biography Workshop leader, and amplifying word of SHEAR opportunities on social media. Encouraging words and critical feedback from a host of SHEAR scholars greatly aided and refined my historical research as I progressed from dissertation to book manuscript and beyond. I’m grateful to have SHEAR as a scholarly home, and now I’d like the chance to give back.

2020-21 Co-Chairs

Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware

I’m an Associate Professor of History and Art History at the University of Delaware. I describe myself as a “historian with a thing for things” since I approach early America through material culture, a historical passion evident in the subject of my first book, Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2016), and in my current research on transatlantic histories of the American Revolution. SHEAR has played a pivotal role in my scholarly world since I first attended it as a graduate student in 2008. This is fitting as one of the things I admire most about this organization is how seamlessly it brings together scholars at all stages of their careers, from grad student to emeriti. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve on the Nominating Committee as a way to help shape the future of this organization that’s given me so many rewarding experiences and connections. I am particularly honored to serve as co-chair of the Nominating Committee this year and pledge to work with my fellow committee members to build the most diverse and inclusive SHEAR possible.

Caitlin Fitz, Northwestern University

I am an associate professor of History at Northwestern University, and my current research explores the hemispheric dimensions of U.S. abolition. I presented at my first SHEAR conference as a nervous graduate student at Worcester in 2007, when I was just starting to piece together a dissertation topic. I will never forget the advice I received: as several audience members suggested, I needed to find a better way to gauge popular attitudes towards Latin American independence. That early insight fundamentally shaped what ultimately became my first book, Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (Norton/Liveright 2016). SHEAR has been my scholarly home ever since, a source of ideas, encouragement, mentorship, and friendship for ten years and running. I am committed to ensuring that the organization is similarly supportive to all historians who crave fuller, broader, more diverse scholarship on the U.S. past, and I’m genuinely honored to co-chair this year’s Nominating Committee as a part of that work.