From the Editor
This issue of Early American Studies features the inauguration of a new department called “Class Acts.” The goal is to bring our scholarship to the classroom by designing rich and engaging exercises for students. Richard Godbeer and Douglas L. Winiarski kick things off nicely with their undergraduate-friendly transcription of materials relating to the Nicholas Sension sodomy trial of 1677 in Massachusetts. They provide useful context in their introduction and time line, as well as provocative questions for class discussion. The case provides a revealing glimpse into daily life in early New England, shining light not only on questions of sexuality, but also on religious views; family life; court proceedings; and the power dynamics of class, age, and gender relations. This exercise would thus be useful in a variety of early American history or historical methods courses, as well as offerings focused on the history of gender and sexuality.
In addition, because there is no documentary edition of the trial transcript available, Godbeer and Winiarski have provided the literal transcription of the records, published here as a companion piece in our longstanding “Consider the Source” department. The inclusion of this transcript should be useful to scholars and to those who wish to explore the case with graduate students. I am grateful to the authors for the work they invested in these pieces. I think they are great evidence for the contention that teaching is, or ought to be, a form of scholarship in itself. I hope their example inspires others to share their best classroom work. I welcome any feedback or inquiries about this new department.
I’m also happy to announce that an Early American Studies article has won a prize. Mark Meuwese of the University of Winnipeg was recently awarded the New Netherland Institute article prize for “The Dutch Connection: New Netherland, the Pequots, and the Puritans in Southern New England, 1620–1638,” Early American Studies 9, no. 2 (Spring 2011). This article appeared in the “Special Issue: The Worlds of Lion Gardiner, ca. 1599–1663, Crossings and Boundaries,” edited by Ned Landsman and Andrew Newman. Congratulations, and thanks to you all. [End Page 239]
I must end on a much sadder note. As this issue was going to press, the EAS community learned of the sudden death of one of its dearest members, William A. Pencak, professor emeritus of history at Penn State University. Bill was known to and loved by all, since he was as prolific with his friendship and help as in his scholarship. He was also the founding editor of this journal in its first incarnation as Explorations in Early American Culture, and he was steadfast with editorial assistance ever after. A former editor, Elaine Crane, adds that “he was always willing to referee an article on the spur of the moment and give a perceptive analysis of it briefly and quickly. If he didn’t feel qualified to render judgment on a piece, he always knew the right person to call on. He was a wonderful ‘consulting editor,’ and I consulted him more often than either he or I expected. EAS has lost a friend and a valuable ally. So have I.”
Bill’s many books and articles will serve as a perpetual monument, but so will the memory of his ever-genial self. Thanks for everything, Bill. This issue is dedicated to you. [End Page 240]