My name is

Dr. Joy AJ Howard

I am an early Americanist with a literary studies background. My research focuses on how the tools of literary studies help us hear silenced voices in the archives, especially those voices of women and of Native Christians in early America. I am a freelance writing consultant, coach, and editor.


Book Project

My current manuscript project, Hearing Silenced Voices: Rebecca Kellogg & Eighteenth Century Authorship in the Haudenosaunee Heartlands, reconstructs the life story of Rebbecca Kellogg, an acculturated captive of the Kahnawake Mohawk who later translated for Mohawk and Oneida in Oquaga before the Seven Years War. The project is an investigation of how feminist and indigenous perspectives can redirect traditional narratives of captivity, missionary work and of authorship in early American studies. Hearing Silenced Voices argues that Rebecca Kellogg and the Mohawk leaders who identified as “Praying Indians” in Oquaga should not be figured as a silenced, marginalized non-writing objects.

My research has been supported by fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Kislak Center for Colonial Research, Pennsylvania State University Center for American Studies, and the William L. Clements Library in The University of Michigan.

Personal Info

Dr. Howard on campus



I am completing a manuscript on the life and discursive communities of Rebecca Kellogg Ashley. She was a 1704 captive of the Iroquois, an adopted Iroquois, and later, a translator for several Protestant missionaries including Jonathan Edwards. I’m using Rebecca Kellogg’s life as a case study for interrogating ways that we might hear unheard voices in the eighteenth century borderlands--voices such as hers and voices such as the Haudenosaunee leaders who self-identified at times as Christian and invited missionaries to their communities.


I was the Upton Fellow at the Clements Library at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2014 where I worked on research for my book.

In June of 2014, I participated in The First Book Institute hosted by CALs Penn State and directed by Sean X. Goudie and Pricilla Wald.

Women in Early America


Rebecca Kellogg Ashley bio entry (forthcoming)

A Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia

"Band of Sisters" in She Loves Magazine

September 30, 2015

She Loves Magazine

Article about 19th century Black Holiness Evangelist, Julia A. J. Foote.

"In Mourning, You are Blessed" in She Loves Magazine

November 13, 2015

She Loves Magazine

Article about the 17th century poem “Upon the Burning of Our House” by early American poet, Anne Bradstreet.

2015 Instructor’s Guide for Women in Early America - Contributor

Rebecca Kellogg Ashley: Negotiating Identity on the Early American Borderlands, 1704-1757

Women in Early America: Transnational Histories, Rethinking Master Narratives

Edited by Tom Foster, New York University Press

This chapter on Rebecca Kellogg Ashley is forthcoming in Women in Early America: Transnational Histories, Rethinking Master Narratives under contract with NYU Press. The collected is edited by Tom Foster at DePaul University. Tom edited the 2011 collection entitled New Men: Manliness in Early America with NYU Press. This second collection seeks to “rewrite master narratives” on women in America from contact through the Revolutionary era. My chapter in this collection focuses on the feminist close reading of my book project. I examine the ways in which Rebecca Kellogg Ashley was represented in colonial documents, missionary letters, and frontier journals, and I explore what her presence in these documents offers us. Ultimately, I suggest how a feminist epistemology offers us ways to recover and recuperate women such as Ashley who challenge the cultural, political, and religious histories of the English and Indian borderlands in the eighteenth century.

Shaping Narrative: Julia A. J. Foote’s Theology of Holiness

Nineteenth-Century American Women Write Religion: Lived Theologies and Literature

Edited by Mary McCartin Wearn, Ashgate Press

I continue to be interested in the life of Julia Foote and other 19th century holiness writers. Work that started in my MA thesis appears in the new collection entitled Lived Theologies and Literature: Women Writing Religion in the Nineteenth Century edited by Mary Wearn. This research on Foote continues to influence my current investigations into lived religion, the narratives of ecstatic experience, and women’s lives in early America.

Jonathan Edwards’s Metaphors of Sin in Indian Country

Religion in the Age of Enlightenment 2.0, pages 153-176

I’m interested in the ways that Native faith and discursive practices influenced colonial discourses as they intermingled and intersected in the Indian “borderlands” or heartlands. This article studied the ways in which Jonathan Edwards’s 18th century sermons seem to have responded to his Native congregants at the Stockbridge Indian mission for Mohawk and Mohican believers.

Women of Faith and the Pen: Anna Maria van Schurman, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Anne Bradstreet

Journal of Prose Studies 29.3, pages 394-404

In this Prose Studies article, I explored how women authors made themselves readable in the trans-Atlantic17th century literary marketplace through religious discourse.

Profile: Julia A. J. Foote (1823-1901)

Legacy: American Women Writers 23.1, pages 86-91

Stemming from my MA thesis, this research was my first exploration into theories of lived religion and the narratives of ecstatic experience in early America. This Legacy profile highlighted biographical research I did and a newly confirmed death date (1901).

Recent Presentations

"Sorrowful Tidings in Oquaga"

Native Christian Influence Over the Funeral Sermon Preached After a Hunting Accident Along the Susquehanna River

47th Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Pittsburgh, PA

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“Performance” on “Devotion: A Keyword Panel”

Joint Conference The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Society of Early Americanists

Chicago, IL

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“Hearing Silenced Voices in the Archive: Rebecca Kellogg & Collective Authorship in the Iroquois Heartlands”

Society for the Study of American Women Writers Annual Conference

Philadelphia, PA

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Rebecca Kellogg Ashley’s Iroquois Identity and Haudenosaunee Engagement with Missionary Outreach

45th Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Williamsburg, VA

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Spirit Possession Tales in Early America and Resisting the Urge to Engage in ‘Consciousness Raising'

The Society of Early Americanists’ Eighth Biennial Conference

Savannah, GA

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Making Sense of the Pieces: Identity after the 1704 Deerfield Raid and Mohawk Captivity

Captivity Writing Unbound Conference, University of South Alabama

Fairhope, AL

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Becoming the Other: Reading Shaker Gift Songs from Indian and Negro Spirits

“Triumph in my Song”: 18th & 19th Century African Atlantic Culture, History, & Performance Conference, the University of Maryland

College Park, MD

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Delaying the Salem Story with Slavery and Spirit Possession

The Society of Early Americanists’ Seventh Biennial Conference

Philadelphia, PA

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Reimagining the Translator, Reimagining the Redeemed Captive

Early American Borderlands, the Third Early Ibero/Anglo Americanist Summit

Saint Augustine, FL

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Indian Language and Quaker Authority in anti-Puritan Texts

Society of Early Americanists’ Conference

Hamilton, Bermuda

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Indian and Negro spirit embodiment in Henry C. Blinn’s The Manifestation

Draper Graduate Student Conference, University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

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Tainted Bodies and Island Plantations: Interpreting Spirit Possession during the Quaker Missionary Invasion of Boston

American Literature Association Annual Conference

San Francisco, CA

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My classes equip students to practice curiosity, inquiry, and skill sets necessary for the critical examination of texts. I focus on close reading skills that lead students and myself to questions and answers that the text can support. I emphasize the examination of genre, audience, style, vocabulary, and rhetorical strategies in all of my classes and I use writing-centered learning practices.

As an early Americanist, I am especially interested in fleshing out diverse literary, cultural, and transatlantic historical contexts as they inform and challenge particular passages of a text. My approach highlights bodies, characters and stories we might otherwise dismiss or ignore in American literature. In my classes, students are encouraged to take otherness seriously and explore how these stories in colonial America inform their sense of themselves and of America today. Students in my early American literature courses can expect to develop an understanding of the literary traditions of colonial and early national America and to be exposed to the diversity and richness of early American Literature—in genre, form, ideology, thought, and culture.

I subscribe to a text-centered (subject-centered or sometimes called third-object-centered) pedagogy where students and I work together to engage with a third object that is not ourselves and thus is a bit foreign to us all.

My text-centered pedagogy has been shaped by Quaker philosopher and education theorist Parker Palmer. Palmer has suggested this about text-centered (or what he calls subject-centered) teaching: “In a subject centered classroom, the teacher’s central task is to give the great thing an independent voice–a capacity to speak its truth quite apart from the teacher’s voice . . . .When the great thing speaks for itself, teachers and students are more likely to come into a genuine learning community, a community that does not collapse into the egos of students or teacher but knows itself accountable to the subject at its core.”

Examples of Courses Taught

Early American Survey

American Literature Survey for English Majors

Upper Level Seminars


I’m an active member of my field and I believe service is essential to the growth of early American studies and to the sustainability of our schools. I regularly organize and chair panels at national conferences and I also reach out to public schools in my neighborhoods to support teachers with special presentations on poetry and creativity. I bring my college students whenever possible and together, we create poetry and share our words.

As a graduate student, I developed and co-organized the first two Graduate Student Breakfasts in Bermuda and in Philadelphia at the SEA’s sixth and seventh Biennial Conferences. These breakfasts brought junior scholars together in a space that facilitated relationships and collaboration with each other and with invited senior scholars. This Graduate Student Breakfast is now a standard event along side the Women’s Caucus Breakfast.

As a graduate student, I also served as the co-organizer for the Purdue University “EARG”:Early American Reading Group--now the Early Atlantic Reading Group. EARG is a student-run organization that includes graduate students and professors. It promotes professionalization, discussion of recent scholarship, and field trips. I organized the EARG’s first annual graduate student symposium and was thrilled to return last year to celebrate 10 years of EARG’s activities and attend some fantastic student talks in what is now an annual symposium event.


I am currently the liaison for the Society of Early Americanists (SEA) to the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS). I help coordinate panel and paper proposals. I answer questions regarding society rules and help scholars from SEA become more active in ASECS.

Dr. Howard with Philadelphia Public School Students, 2012

Sessions/Panels Organized or Chaired

"Interrogating Methodologies in Eighteenth Century Americanist Scholarship"

Session Organizer, Sponsored by The Society of Early Americanists

46th Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Los Angeles, CA (upcoming)

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Historical Reenactment, Living History, Public History

Session Organizer, Sponsored by The Society of Early Americanists

45th Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Williamsburg, VA

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Imagined constructions of community: Continuing Scholarship on Jonathan Edwards

Session Chair, Sponsored by The Society of Early Americanists

The Society of Early Americanists’ Eighth Biennial Conference, Savannah, GA

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The Rural Believer in the 18th Century

Session Organizer, Sponsored by The Society of Early Americanists

44th Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Cleveland, OH

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Ecstatic Performance at the Borders of Faith and Race

Sessions Organizer

Triumph in my Song”: 18th & 19th Century African Atlantic Culture, History, & Performance, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

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Medical Cultures of the Caribbean

Session Chair

The Society of Early Americanists’ Seventh Biennial Conference, Philadelphia, PA

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The Figure of the Translator/Interpreter


Early American Borderlands, the Third Early Ibero/Anglo Americanists’ Summit, St. Augustine, FL

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Marriage and the Family in the Long Eighteenth Century

Panel Chair

East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Bethlehem, PA

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Transatlantic Heterodoxies

Session Chair

The Society of Early Americanists’ Sixth Biennial Conference, Hamilton, Bermuda

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Revolutions/Nations: Prophetstown Revisited, A Summit on Early Native American Studies

Session Chair

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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I’m always happy to share my research and speak with folks interested in early America.

Would you like me to come speak on the Salem witch trials? Would you like to schedule a lecture on Jonathan Edwards, his time in Indian country, and the translator, Rebecca Kellogg Ashley, with whom he worked? Do you have questions about my archival materials or my work on spirit possession narratives?

Do feel free to contact me.