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As Summer Ends…

Today is my last day as the Erikson Scholar in Residence at the Austen Riggs Center. To say I will miss this place, the fabulous people I had the privilege to work with, and the cottage I called home for the last three months, would be an understatement. It’s been great to form new links across disciplines!

While in residence, I collaborated with a fantastic group of psychologists, established a grounding in psycho biography and psycho history, read more than 100 sources, and wrote 90 rough-draft pages of my manuscript.

This afternoon I’ll head home. I can’t wait to see my dogs, and more importantly, to bring what I learned at Riggs into my courses at Siena this fall! The disease and disability in early American literature class is going to be fabulous!

Public Humanities in Action!

On July 31, 2019, I gave a talk as part of the new Austen Riggs Center public lecture series on mental health. The series is an extension of the Riggs centennial, and was incorporated into their public exhibit: “The Hospital on Main Street: Human Dignity and Mental Health.”

In my talk, I gave an overview of attitudes toward mental health in the colonial period, beginning with Native American perspectives on mental illness, then covering colonial Puritans in Massachusetts, and ending with the development of secular mental health treatment in the early years of the American republic (pre-contact to about 1812).

My main argument for this research is that attitudes toward mental health have varied, but mental illnesses have always been present in America. At several points, mental illness has been viewed just like any other kind of illness. Colonial Puritans also believed they had a duty to support and care for one another for the good of society. The health of everyone mattered.

Studying the good and bad parts of the history of mental health in this country is valuable because it normalizes and de-stigmatizes mental illness. Putting all aspects of health back into our history can  help us be more empathetic, remind us to care for one another, and to see each other as people.

Patty Bartlett Sessions Article

My first article was published on March 28th in the peer-reviewed journal Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. I’m absolutely thrilled to have a hard copy of the article. I’d also like to thank Hilary Wyss for encouraging this article from its inception, Nush Powell for helping me revise it for publication, and my colleagues at Purdue for reading drafts and providing helpful feedback.


You can purchase this article on the Dialogue website:


SEA 2012 CFP

Modern Adaptations of Early American People, Places and Spaces

Panel organizers:
Stacey Dearing
Kirsten Iden Lindmark, Auburn University

In October 2012, Ubisoft is releasing Assassins Creed III, a video game which features a half Mohawk, half white protagonist who navigates the unstable boundaries of race, class and nationality in eighteenth-century New England. Presented as an observer and participant in the Revolutionary war, the protagonist Connor/ Ratohnhaké:ton (prounounced ra-doon-ha-gay-doo), explores the multiplicity of identity while challenging the master narrative of early American history and of the found fathers. Such modern adaptations seek to reinterpret eighteenth-century themes and place them in a contemporary context. This panel seeks to not only discuss how people are recreating the eighteenth century, but also how these revisions intersect contemporary politics, literature, historiography and culture.

This panel will explore modern adaptations of Early America. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, the TEA Party, Assassins Creed III, and Toni Morrison’s 2008 novel A Mercy. Papers may consider not only characters, events and issues privileged in these contemporary adaptations, but also which figures, issues, and topics are excluded.  We are looking for papers which engage with how these modern interpretations illuminate, redefine or obscure traditional topics and approaches to eighteenth-century studies.

Send 250 word paper abstracts to Stacey Dearing at or Kirsten Iden Lindmark at by Friday, September 7, 2012.