Teaching the American Revolution in Monroe, Louisiana

I am in Monroe, Louisiana today co-conducting a “Teaching American History” seminar with elementary and middle-school teachers from Monroe, Louisiana and the surrounding rural school districts. I am working with John McNamara of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School in New Jersey. I spent the morning lecturing on the “Origins of the American Revolution” and John, a master teacher and fine historian in his own right, is currently lecturing on how to teach the Revolution.

The teachers here seem to be starving for content and pedagogical training. As part of the training I put together a few web resources that might be useful in teaching the Revolution.

Here is the list:

•African Americans and the American Revolution
•Lesson Plans from the Massachusetts Historical Society
•John Adams-Abigail Adams Correspondence
•American Revolution Document Library (Ashland College)
•Gilder-Lehrman Historical Document Collection
•Gilder-Lehrman Podcasts on Founding Era
•Library of Congress: American Memory (Maps and Charts of Revolutionary Era)
•Library of Congress: American Memory (Documents from Continental Congress)
•Library of Congress: Religion and the American Founding
•Colonial Williamsburg Lesson Plans on American Revolution

Thanks to John Kemp of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities who runs the grant and for the local school district here for hosting us.

A Day With Mayflower Descendants

After The Way of Improvement Leads Home appeared in 2008, I began to receive invitations to speak at ancestral societies connected with the American Revolution. I usually accept the invitations. Philip Vickers Fithian is a character of special interest to groups like the Sons of the American Revolution and the Society of the Cincinnati.

Today I spent the afternoon speaking about Fithian to the First Colony (south Jersey) chapter of The Society of Mayflower Descendants of the State of New Jersey. Thanks to Jane Engleman for inviting me to speak.

A few observations:

1). With the exception of two young boys who came with their mother (a new inductee to the society) and their father, I believe I was the youngest person in the room.

2). I learned about the strict membership requirements of this society. Each local chapter has a “historian” who goes over an applicant’s family tree with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that he or she is indeed a descendant of one of the 104 Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.

3). All the members of the society call themselves “cousins.” At one point a member asked all of the “Bradford cousins” to stand up and greet one another. (I am assuming that this was a reference to the members related to Plymouth governor William Bradford).

4). There is a clear “God and Country” mentality among this group. The meeting starts with the ushering in of a U.S. flag and a Mayflower flag, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Mayflower flag is then “dipped” to commemorate those members who had died since the previous meeting. This is followed by a Christian prayer offered in the name of Jesus Christ.

The group made me feel very welcomed and I feasted on a chicken dinner with an apple pie ala-mode desert. But I could not help but wonder how a guy with Italian and Slovakian ancestry who had no ancestors in the United States prior to the twentieth century ended up speaking to this group!

October Speaking Schedule

It looks like October is going to be a busy month. Here is what I have lined up. (For a full schedule and information about bookings click here).

Saturday, Oct. 3: Keynote speaker at annual luncheon of the Mayflower Descendants Society, Riverton, NJ. Topic: “The Way of Improvement Leads Home.”

Wednesday Oct. 7: Gilder-Lehrman “Teaching American History” Workshop, Monroe, LA. Topic: “The Coming of the American Revolution.”

Thursday, Oct. 8: Bethany Village “Venture Series,” Mechanicsburg, PA. Topic: “Did George Washington Chop Down the Cherry Tree and Other Myths About the ‘Father of our Country.'”

Saturday, Oct. 10: Cape May County Library, Cape May Court House, NJ. “New Jersey Authors Roundtable.”

Tuesday, Oct. 13: Gilder-Lehrman “Junior Historians Forum,” Milwaukee, WI. Topic: “Children in Colonial America.”

Wednesday, Oct. 14: Gilder-Lehrman Teachers Workshop, Milwaukee, WI. Topic: “Children in Colonial America.”

Tuesday, Oct. 27: Gilder-Lehrman “Junior Historians Forum,” Huntsville, AL. Topic: “The Coming of the American Revolution.”

Ft. Ticonderoga Revolutionary War Seminar

Today I gave a plenary address at the Ft. Ticonderoga Revolutionary War seminar to a very knowledgeable group of history buffs. My talk was entitled: “A Presbyterian Rebellion: Christianity and the American Revolution.” While many in the audience weres students of military history, there was a small group of people who seemed to be interested in religion. I always learn something from the audience during these kinds of talks. In this case, I left with a lot of good research leads based upon conversations with some of the conference attendees.

I used my time to argue that Presbyterians drove the American Revolution in the mid-Atlantic. I discussed the way in which Presbyterians moved from a divided denomination in the wake of the First Great Awakening to a potent political force by the 1760s, focusing specifically on the emergence of “Presbyterian Parties” in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. I concluded the talk with short vignettes of two revolutionary-era Presbyterians: John Witherspoon and Philip Vickers Fithian.

The folks at Ft. Ticonderoga, especially Rich Strum, were welcoming and hospitable. After lunch we had a book signing in the fort’s museum store and I sold a good number of copies of The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Tonight they took all of the speakers out to a very good dinner at a local Ticonderoga eatery.

I also got a chance to meet three historians whose work I have long admired–James Kirby Martin of the University of Houston and Douglas Egerton of LeMoyne College delivered talks. Martin has recently published a book on the Oneida Indians and the American Revolution and Egerton’s new work is on African-Americans and the American Revolution. I also had a nice chat with Alison Games, a historian at Georgetown who has written two very smart books on the Atlantic World.

One of the highlights of the morning was spending time catching up with a former student–Susanna Carey–who drove down to Ft. Ticonderoga for my talk. Thanks, Susanna!
It was a great weekend in upstate New York. I hope to visit Ft. Ticonderoga again soon.

Ft. Collins Evangelicalism

We are on our way home from a brief trip to Ft. Collins, CO where I did a seminar on the roots of American evangelicalism. The people of the Faith Evangelical Free Church who attended the seminar were very engaged with the subject.

On the first night I discussed the First Great Awakening. I concentrated mostly on the definition of evangelicalism, the role of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, and the impact of the Awakening on eighteenth-century British-America. As expected, the audience was quite interested in this subject.

I started the next day with a session on whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation. I was not sure what to expect from this fairly conservative and very evangelical congregation, but the people were gracious and many of them seemed to agree with what I presented. There were a few “pro-Christian America” types in the audience, but they responded to my lecture with much civility.

I ended the seminar with a session on the way American evangelicalism accommodated to the democratic and market culture of the early republic. We discussed things like “church shopping,” the changes that Charles Finney brought to revivalism, and Nathan Hatch’s thesis in The Democratization of American Christianity.

Thanks to Ryan Kelly of the “Faith-LED” ministry for inviting me to come and conduct this seminar.

I hope to do more seminars like this in the future in conjunction with my forthcoming book, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Primer for Christians. (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), so if your church might be interested in such a presentation don’t hesitate to contact me.

Exploring the Roots of American Evangelicalism

I am in Ft. Collins, Colorado this weekend. I have been invited by the Faith Evangelical Free Church to lead a two-day seminar entitled “Exploring the Roots of American Evangelicalism.” I am thrilled that an evangelical church is willing to sponsor such a workshop for their congregation. Evangelicals, as Mark Noll has reminded us, do not normally gravitate towards these kinds of topics.

Here is the schedule of lectures:

Friday, July 10
7-8:30pm: “The First Great Awakening and the Birth of American Evangelicalism”

Saturday, July 11
8:30-10:00am: “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”

10:30am-12:00: “How Did Evangelicalism Become America’s Religion?”

Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution

If you are in upstate New York this coming September please consider attending the Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution. (I have already received an excited Facebook message from a former student in the area who is planning on coming!). Speakers include Douglas Egerton, James Kirby Martin, and yours truly. I will be sharing some of my earlier findings from my ongoing book project: “A Presbyterian Rebellion: The American Revolution in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

I am in Mississippi for a few days working with teachers at a Gilder-Lehrman workshop. I am doing some content lectures on Colonial America and working with Leah Colby, who runs a Teaching American History grant in Savannah. A former elementary school teacher, she is a very engaging and knowledgeable pedagogy specialist–the epitome of what the folks at Gilder Lehrman call a “master teacher.”

This is my first visit to the Magnolia State. I flew into Jackson airport (thus the choice of yesterday’s “Song of the Day”) and drove down Route 49 to Hattiesburg. In the process I got a glimpse of central Mississippi and saw some of the state’s rural poverty. I also got confused by a strange looking directional sign at a traffic circle near the airport.

I was a bit disappointed that I was not going to experience this region of the country as a “place.” In his book Confederates in the Attic, Tony Horwitz cites a 1995 letter written to the editorial page of the Richmond Times : “The South is a place. East, West, and North are nothing but directions.” I wanted to experience this “place,” but my only exposure to it was the Jackson airport and the inside of a Hilton Garden Inn hotel room and conference room. Last night I sat in my hotel room (there wasn’t even a picture or painting of Mississippi on the walls) and watched Conan O’Brien host his first Tonight Show. I could have been anywhere in the world. The local news anchors did not even speak with a southern accent! This is all a sad commentary on the way that corporate capitalism and cultural nationalism has now made it possible to travel somewhere without really experiencing it as a distinct place.

My disappointment subsided, however, when I met the thirty or so teachers I am working with. Almost all of them are native Mississippians. Those who are “transplanted” to Mississippi are originally from places “as far a way” as Alabama and Kentucky! It is safe to say that there are no “Yankees” in the group. (In fact, I have been called a “Yankee” more than once by these teachers, especially when I mispronounced “Hattiesburg”). These teachers remind me that there are still many “rural Enlightenments” in America. The teachers are bright, engaged, hospitable, and rooted. They love SEC football. They cheer on the University of Southern Mississippi baseball team, which just advanced to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time ever. They argue over their loyalties to “Ole Miss,” Southern Mississippi, and Mississippi State. They care for their students and want to be better teachers despite the fact that many of them have limited resources.

And then came the highlight of the my two days in Mississippi. Tonight some of the teachers took us out to get barbecue at award winning Leatha’s. (They have a website at http://www.leathas.com/, but it does not seem to be available at the moment). I have never been to a barbecue joint quite like this. (In fact, I do not think I have ever been to a barbecue joint before). Leatha’s is located on a dirt driveway off of Route 98 in Hattiesburg behind an RV dealership. The interior of the restaurant is unimpressive. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the brown wood-paneled family room in my 1960 split-level in Mechanicsburg. One of “Miss Leatha’s” (pictured on the left) daughters served us some ribs, pulled pork, and pecan pie. The food was incredible. Our utensils came wrapped in a white towel (no mini-wipe packages here) and the chairs in the place were the kind of folding chairs that one might find at a church social in a church basement. Leatha’s daughter controlled the floor, moving back and forth between tables making sure everyone had what they needed. In the end, it was one of the best “dining out” experience I have had in a while–both in terms of food and service. Leatha’s is a must stop you ever find your way to Hattiesburg.

I leave Mississippi tomorrow after a few more lectures. I am not sure when I will return again, but I am glad that I did get a bit of local flavor.

Colonial Williamsburg

Tonight I did a book signing and public lecture at the DeWitt-Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg. (Visitors enter the Museum through the 1773 Public Hospital pictured to the left). The Virginia diary of Philip Vickers Fithian is a staple in the historical interpretation efforts at Williamsburg. In fact, I learned tonight that it is required reading for the training of re-enactors and other Williamsburg staff who work as historical interpreters. Many of those attending the lecture had already read The Way of Improvement Leads Home and were ready to discuss it with me in the Q&A session. I entertained questions about Fithian’s “net worth” in plantation society, his reading of the eighteenth-century novel Tristram Shandy, and the published edition of his works. These folks knew their stuff.

Before the lecture I met Jeffry Morrison, a political philosopher who has written excellent studies on JohnWitherspoon and George Washington. We had a nice dinner together in downtown Williamsburg and also hit the Williamsburg Booksellers where we both admired our books on the shelf. (Bob Hill, the bookstore manager, asked me to sign the copies that he had in stock).

Thanks to Trish Balderson for inviting me to Williamsburg for this lecture.

Westmoreland County Museum and Library

I was in Montross, VA tonight at the Westmoreland County Museum and Library. It was a beautiful day on Virginia’s Northern Neck. I was in Montross as a speaker in the museum’s “Virginia Authors” lecture series. (Even though I am not a “Virginia author,” Philip Vickers Fithian certainly was!). The crowd was small, lively, and very knowledgeable about Fithian’s Virginia diary. Thanks to Alice French for inviting me and hosting me during my visit.

I am off to Williamsburg tomorrow!

The Hermitage

I spent the evening tonight with a great group of history buffs at The Hermitage in HoHoKus, New Jersey. I talked a bit about Philip Vickers Fithian and answered some very insightful questions. Thanks to Rich Sigritta for the invitation.

My road trip is just about over. I am heading home tomorrow for Messiah College’s graduation festivities.

A Long Day

My day began at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. After a bowl of oatmeal I met up with my friend Anthony Napoli of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute and we walked a few blocks to our meeting at the Brooklyn Historical Society . I then led a seminar on the U.S. Constitution for twenty teachers from the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

After a few technical difficulties with the LCD projector and laptop, I gave two 90 minute lectures on the Constitution. The first lecture focused on the 1780s and the political, economic, and moral crises that led to the gathering of the Constitutional Convention. I still find Gordon Wood’s analysis in The Creation of the American Republic to be the most convincing. As a result, the lecture focused a lot on republicanism, political virtue, and the framers’s fear of democracy. The second lecture explored Federalist 10, the “political psychology” (to borrow a term from Daniel Walker Howe) of the Federalists, and the ways in which such psychology was manifested in the Constitution. I ended this lecture with a discussion of whether or not we can call the Constitution a counter-revolutionary document, especially as it relates to the more democratic spirit of the Declaration of Independence. All of the teachers read Woody Holton’s excellent Unruly Americans and we had some fruitful discussion related to Holton’s interpretation of the Constitution.

I left Brooklyn around noon and after a brief stint at my parents’ house in New Jersey I headed to Rutgers-New Brunswick to give a lecture to a gathering of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSAA). I have been following the activities of the NJSAA for several years, but it was finally nice to put some names with faces. It was a star-studded crowd of New Jersey history scholars, including Marc Mappen of the New Jersey Historical Commission, Maxine Lurie from Seton Hall, and Peter Wacker from Rutgers. I was also thrilled that Alan Lucibello, my high school Advanced Placement U.S. history teacher, introduced me and my talk. I spoke for about forty-five minutes on Philip Vickers Fithian’s attempts to reconcile his Enlightenment ambition for self-improvement with his deep and abiding love for his Cohansey River home. Thanks to Bonita Craft Grant of Rutgers Special Collections for hosting me.

I got to Mechanicsburg around 9:40, just in time to unpack and see Danny Gokey get voted off of American Idol!

On The Road

After proctoring an exam on Tuesday morning and attending a few meetings in the early afternoon, I am off on a small road trip. On Wednesday morning I will be at the Brooklyn Historical Society conducting a Gilder-Lehrman Institute seminar on the Constitution for teachers from the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York. Later in the day I head to Rutgers University to do a lecture on The Way of Improvement Leads Home for the members of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance.

On Thursday I am back in Grantham, PA for the Messiah College History Department’s brunch for graduating seniors. Then it is back to New Jersey, where I will be doing a public lecture at The Hermitage in Ho Ho Kus on Thursday night.

Finally, it is back to Grantham for Messiah’s baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies this weekend.

And my grading it still not done…

Civil War Night at Messiah College

Tonight was the annual Messiah College American Democracy Lecture. Our keynote speaker was Darrell Bigham, professor emeritus of history at Southern Indiana University in Evansville, IN and a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Bigham was not only here to deliver this year’s lecture, but he was also awarded the Messiah College Alumnus of the Year Award. (Class of 1964). Bigham’s lecture was titled “My Life with Lincoln: Memory, History, and Irony. The lecture explored his long career as a student of Abraham Lincoln and offered a Niehburian interpretation of Lincoln’s life and presidency, with particular focus on the Second Inaugural.

This afternoon I served on a roundtable of Civil War historians that included Pulitzer-prize winning historian Mark Neely and Dickinson College’s Civil War historian Matt Pinsker. The roundtable focused on Lincoln’s legacy for American Democracy. I spoke briefly on the irony of an event like this at Messiah College. I found it ironic that Lincoln, an ardent nationalist who used “total war” to justify his quest to preserve the Union, would be featured in a lecture at a college that, because of its Anabaptist roots, does not fly a flag and embraces pacifism. I concluded with a discussion of Lincoln as an American theologian and compared his views of the war with many of the clergymen of his age. While 19th century clergymen wanted to condemn the south for slavery and relegate them to the pit of hell, Lincoln reminded us that the “Almighty has his own purposes.”

Liberty University

Yesterday I took a ride down Route 81 to central Virginia where I spoke at a conference on Christianity and American History at Liberty University. It was a beautiful weekend in the Virginia hills. I must admit that I was a bit sentimental as I passed through many of the towns in the Shenandoah Valley that Philip Vickers Fithian had visited in 1775 and 1776.

I realized that I was entering “ground zero” of the Christian Right as I drove down “Jerry Falwell Parkway,” entered the Liberty campus, and passed the “LaHaye Ice Rink” (named after the co-author of the “Left Behind” novels, Tim LaHaye). And then, to top it all off, I left the hotel today with some fellow scholars and saw LaHaye and his wife Beverly.

This morning I gave a keynote/plenary address that linked some of the ideas I wrote about in The Way of Improvement Leads Home with my ongoing project on Presbyterians and the American Revolution. The title of my talk was “Towards a Social History of Evangelicals and the Enlightenment.” I discussed the way that Presbyterians embraced the Enlightenment in years between 1740 and 1765, offered a narrative of post-Great Awakening Presbyterian history in the middle colonies, and concluded by returning to Fithian and the “rural Enlightenment.”

This afternoon I participated in a plenary roundtable devoted to Thomas Kidd’s The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America. I was joined on this panel by Kidd and Tim Hall, the author of Contested Boundaries: Itinerancy and the Reshaping of the Colonial American Religious World.

Both my plenary talk and the roundtable were held in the Liberty School of Law’s new “Supreme Court” room. (Pictured above).

For all of the heat that Liberty and its founder Jerry Falwell have taken in the mainstream press, I was actually quite impressed with both the campus, the students I encountered, and the members of the history department. Thanks to Sam Smith and Doug Mann for inviting me to spend a few days on “Liberty Mountain.”

The Brick Academy

I did a book talk and signing tonight at the Historical Society of the Somerset Hills in Basking Ridge, NJ. The event took place at the “Brick Academy,” an early nineteenth-century (1809) building constructed to house a Presbyterian classical academy that served as a preparatory school for Princeton. The academy was affiliated with the historic Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, a congregation which dates back to the early 18th century.

Philip Vickers Fithian, of course, attended a similar Presbyterian academy in the southern New Jersey town of Deerfield, so there were many connections between the local history of the Cohansey River region and that of Basking Ridge.

Thanks to Sonia and Marcella for hosting me this evening. It was a very enthusiastic crowd!

Society of the Cincinnati

I spent the evening doing a book talk and signing at the national headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati in Washington D.C. The Society is housed in the Anderson House, a stately Gilded Age mansion on Massachusetts Avenue. (I think I spoke in the room pictured on the left–it looks different in the daylight). Founded in 1783, the Society is the oldest patriotic society in the United States. It also has a small research library that offers short term fellowships to researchers.

During my visit I was excited to learn that the library holds the Revolutionary-War diary of Ebenezer Elmer, a friend of Philip Vickers Fithian and one of the famed “Greenwich Tea Burners.” Elmer was apparently one of the early members of the Society of Cincinnati.

Thanks to Ellen Clark, the Society librarian, for her gracious hospitality during my brief visit. I have made some friends here and I hope to return soon.

Clinton County Historical Society and Rendell’s Budget

I drove up to Clinton County, PA today to give a talk on the revolutionary courtship of Philip Vickers Fithian and Elizabeth Beatty. It was a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Speakers lecture and my hosts were Anne and Lou at the Clinton County Historical Society (CCHS) in Lock Haven.

The audience had a particular interest in Fithian because he had traveled through this area in the summer of 1775, preaching to small congregations of English and Scots-Irish Presbyterians along the Susquehanna River. (See Chapter 7 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home–now on sale in paperback for $17.95 at Amazon). Many of them link Fithian’s visit to the founding of the Great Island Presbyterian Church in Lock Haven.

Since I was the speaker for the historical society’s annual meeting I got a chance to observe the yearly business session. The CCHS is running a variety of wonderful programs, but there is a serious possibility that they may have to curb programming or perhaps even furlough some staff if the Ed Rendell budget passes–a budget that will make huge cuts in the funding operations of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The CCHS, like many other Pennsylvania historical societies, relies heavily on PHMC funding to help carry out its programs.

As I sat and listened to the executive director and curator of the CCHS talk about the struggles they will almost inevitable face in the coming year, I began to think about what a tragedy it would be if places like this cannot fulfill its mission.

I realize that we are in difficult economic times. Sacrifices are necessary. But if we cannot preserve our past and the institutions that promote it, then we are in danger of forgetting who we are as a people. History is the story of the human experience, but human beings are grounded and embedded in local places like Clinton County. If Rendell wants to build stronger communities during these times of economic crisis then he should reconsider some of these budget cuts. During hard times people turn inward. They take a deeper look at who they are and draw inspiration from the those who came before them–people who dealt with similar problems.

It would be a shame if the opportunity for such historical exploration is eliminated, especially now.

Spring ’09 Speaking Schedule

Here are my speaking engagements for the spring 2009. If you are interested in scheduling an engagement feel free to contact me.

Click here for the full 2009 schedule.

March 12 & 26, 2009: Messiah College Center for Public Humanities
Grantham, PA
Contact: Norman Wilson
Teachers as Scholars Seminar: “Abraham Lincoln and American Nationalism”
(Seminar for high school teachers)

March 15, 2009: Clinton County Historical Society
Lock Haven, PA 2:00pm
Contact: Lou Bernard
“Presbyterians in Love: Courtship in Revolutionary America”
(Pennsylvania Commonwealth Lecture)

March 31, 2009: Society of the Cincinnati Library
Washington D.C. 7:00pm
Contact: Ellen Clark
Book Talk and Signing

April 14, 2009: South Central PA History Day
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Contact: Dr. James LaGrand
Supervisor of Judges

April 16, 2009: Historical Society of Somerset Hills
Basking Ridge, NJ 7:30pm
Contact: Sonja Heijne
Book Talk and Signing

April 17-18, 2009: Christianity and American History Conference
Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
Contact: Dr. Samuel Smith
Plenary Address and Panel Discussion

April 21, 2009: American Democracy Lecture
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Contact: Jon Stuckey
Roundtable Discussion on Abraham Lincoln (with Gabor Boritt, Matt Pinkser and Mark Neely)

May 13, 2009: New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Meeting
New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University
Contact: Bonita Craft Grant 4:30pm
Lecture: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment

May 14, 2009: The Hermitage
Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 7:30pm
Contact: Richard Sgritta
Book Talk and Signing

May 21, 2009: Westmoreland County Museum
Montross, VA 6:30pm
Contact: Alice French
Public Lecture: “Philip Vickers Fithian: A Tutor in Colonial Virginia”

May 22, 2009: Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, VA, Hennage Auditorium 5:30pm
Contact: Patricia Balderson
Lecture and Book Signing

May 26, 2009: Bayshore Discovery Project
Port Norris, NJ
Contact: Janis Traas
Book Talk and Signing