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Old 05-04-2020, 10:43 PM
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Kyuss Apollo Kyuss Apollo is offline
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Default Re: Sometimes people you haven't ever heard of die

I am pretty bummed to hear about Dr. Murrin's passing. I was going to go to the SHEAR conference when it was in Boston last summer to hear him (amongst other scholars) but I had conflicting commitments and it would have been s stretch on the budget so I didn't go... :sadcheer:

John Murrin truly was a historian's historian, but most people outside the the field of colonial American history / history of the early American republic have never heard of him because his forte was essays. Two years ago he put out a core collection of his essays, Rethinking America: From Empire to Republic -- here's an excerpt from a review of that:

Here is a timely gift to the coming generation of early American historian...John M. Murrin is a brilliant, generous, and unpretentious master of American colonial and revolutionary history. For decades he taught at Princeton University, turning out blue-chip scholars and rubbing shoulders with the best and brightest in the field. But unlike most of his peers, Murrin wrote essays, not books, and for this reason his impact might easily be lost on a new generation already weighed down by the hundreds of “must-read” monographs that have landed on our reading lists since the 1960s...

This anthology is arranged thematically. First a blockbuster essay from 1980, “The Great Inversion, or Court versus Country.” In sixty-seven pages of sustained analysis that is at once synthetic and densely learned...[r]eaders will learn in this first essay that Murrin’s arguments demand careful attention. Unwilling to let schematic frameworks or theoretical determinants do the heavy lifting, Murrin anchors his explanations in narratives that force the reader to know who was who in British ministries and exactly what took place in American legislatures, elections, and counting houses. It is the skillful blending of evidentiary specifics with high-altitude narrative arcs that mark this as a Murrin piece. It is worth the investment, as are the ten pieces that follow.
Murrin was very active in SHEAR, the Society of the History of the Early American Republic, and the historians he was schooled by, instructed and/or collaborated reads like a Who's Who in the field (more people you guys have probably never heard of, so...). Murrin was also known for his sly sense of humor that often found its way into his writing. For example one of his essays examines the importance of the religious revival known as the First Great Awakening in the 1740s by imagining that it never took place, enthusiastically describing a series of "what if" scenarios:
What if divisive jackwagon Gilbert Tennant died in that lightning strike that he actually survived in RL? :storm:
What if George Whitfield, while traveling to America during the War of Jenkins's Ear, had been captured by the Spanish who then threw his trouble-making Methodist ass into a Spanish dungeon? (Right? Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!) :inquisit: :prisoner: :primate:
What if Mr. "Sinner In the Hands Of An Angry God" Jonathan Edwards had been rendered mysteriously and totally catatonic, unable to deliver his renowned fire and brimstone sermons? :gah:

Not much of an awakening without those three asshats, buckos.

RIP Professor Murrin.
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