March 20-22, 2014
The year 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Benjamin Rush’s death. In commemoration of this anniversary, Dickinson College and The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania solicit paper proposals for an academic conference examining politics and culture of the early American republic. In addition to being one of the leading physicians of his day, Rush was also vitally involved in the political and institutional development of the United States, advocating for the reform of criminal justice, for new approaches to the treatment of the mentally ill, and for the abolition of slavery, among other causes. His interest in republican government also prompted his involvement in educational reform.
This conference seeks to explore the many “republics” Rush envisioned and engaged. As Rush’s interests extended to myriad disciplines, including political thought, educational, and social reforms, and medicine, this conference welcomes contributions along the wide spectrum of his engagements, and papers by no means need to focus narrowly on Rush himself.
In exploring the intellectual, social, scientific, and political contexts in which Rush was immersed, we hope a broader agenda for reconsideration might emerge for apprehending complexities, contradictions, and ambiguities of the founding era and its legacies for today.
The conference will be held at Dickinson College, which was founded by Rush in 1783. Dickinson promotes an honest examination of its founder’s intellectual contributions to American culture, with an emphasis on Rush’s concept of a “useful education” aimed at developing globally engaged citizens.