Cynthia Van Zandt, Hayes Chair 2011
In addition to researching New Hampshire Protestant colonists, Van Zandt will also begin work on her next project focusing on the uniqueness of the very early colonial history of New Hampshire and Maine. “The early colonial settlements in New Hampshire are fascinating,” Van Zandt explains, “because they do not fit the pattern established by Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. New Hampshire’s small, independent communities represent a different path for colonial development, something we don't usually associate with New England.”
Van Zandt has been at UNH since 1998. She has written and published extensively on the history of colonial America. Her current research on early New Hampshire is an integral part of her latest book project, Cultures of Fear: Protestant Fears of Catholic Conspiracy in the Early Modern Atlantic World. “In Cultures of Fear, I examine the ways in which an extraordinarily broad range of people and events on both sides of the north Atlantic were affected by the widespread Protestant belief in a global Catholic conspiracy,” says Van Zandt. “I should note,” she continues, “that my book is not about the existence of such a conspiracy, for which there is no real evidence, but about the fact that Protestants believed it to be real. My research on New Hampshire as the Hayes Chair will provide an important additional context with which to test the degree to which such fears were primarily restricted to a particular strain of Puritanism or were more broadly connected to English cultural values and to more widespread Protestant fears.”
Van Zandt plans to utilize her New Hampshire-focused research to expand the direction of her teaching. She is contemplating a course on the colonial history of New Hampshire “as either a discovery or inquiry course, or as a more specialized seminar designed for history majors, such as History 797.” She also envisions a broader undergraduate course on New Hampshire, with significant interdisciplinary elements that would make it suitable for cross listing in American Studies or other interdisciplinary programs.