Rewriting Revolutions, 1750-1850: New Settings, Characters and Plots, Part 1: Moments and Movements

AHA Session 166
American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 1
Saturday, January 9, 2016: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Room M104 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level)
Sarah Knott, Indiana University Bloomington

Session Abstract

This is the first panel in a proposed three-panel workshop that will focus on new approaches to the Atlantic “Age of Revolutions,” circa 1760s-1830s.  The workshop aims to spark historical and historiographic discussions around three themes in revolutionary-era histories that our group has identified as particularly critical to developing work in the field.  Each panel includes scholars whose work spans and even expands the geographical and temporal parameters of the traditional age of revolutions, including Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa.  The workshop’s panels are knit together not only by their focus on a similar period but also by a number of shared preoccupations that are highly relevant to the themes of the 2016 Annual Meeting, including the unsettling role of empire, translation and misunderstanding, violence and the politicization of slavery, commercialization and consumption, and the changing nature of sovereignty and allegiance.

The presentations on this panel, Moments and Movements, will examine individual revolutionary moments and the wider movements that they built and which were built by them.  The papers go beyond conventional histories of revolutionary “turning points” and “political organizing” by using often counter-intuitive case studies to get us to think anew about what made particular moments and movements revolutionary or not.  What does it mean for an event or series of events to be revolutionary?  How did participants and observers – not to mention historians – decide?  What is the relationship between a moment and a movement?  At the same time, the papers on the panel will open a discussion of a crucial historiographic question that has received far too little attention: how (if?) should historians periodize the Age of Revolution?  Is it a period/field at all?  These are questions that requires historians’ attention as we move back into a period of heightened activity in revolutionary studies.