Conversations at the Washington Library is a weekly podcast about early American history and the people who teach it.

Pen Versus Plow

In this episode, Dr. Kevin Butterfield sits down with King's College-Georgian Papers Fellow Dr. James Fisher to discuss his latest findings on the topic titled, George Washington and the Transatlantic Circulation and Reception of Agricultural Literature and Knowledge.

James Fisher's research topic is titled, George Washington and the Transatlantic Circulation and Reception of Agricultural Literature and Knowledge. This project will use George Washington as a special case study of an eighteenth-century gentleman reader of British agricultural literature. Using Washington’s collections, it seeks to trace the flow of knowledge from published book, to notebook, to farm practice – then back again into written records and correspondence. It builds directly on my recently completed thesis: a systematic study and reinterpretation of British agricultural literature over the long eighteenth century. His research draws attention to the processing of codifying knowledge into books, the tensions between theory and practice, and the social dimension of how knowledge was distributed with respect to the division of labour. The aim is to contribute to our understanding of the problems arising from the transplantation of British agricultural knowledge to the American soil, climate and economy (e.g. from managing wage labour to slave labour); attitudes towards the expertise of British agricultural authors in comparison with alternative sources of knowledge; and the intellectual practices of the gentleman ‘book-farmer’ on both sides of the Atlantic.

Kevin C. Butterfield is the new Executive Director of the Washington Library. He comes to Mount Vernon from the University of Oklahoma, where he served as the Director of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and Constitutional Studies Program, holding an appointment as the Wick Cary Professor and Associate Professor of Classics and Letters.

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