Rewriting Revolutions, 1750-1850: New Settings, Characters and Plots, Part 2: Things and Persons

AHA Session 194
American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2
Saturday, January 9, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room M104 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level)
Jane Kamensky, Harvard University

Session Abstract

This is the second 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, Things and Persons, will focus on the circulation of people and objects in the revolutionary era and on how their interactions shaped revolutionary politics and culture.  One focus of the panel is recovering and understanding the formation of revolutionary networks of people and things across wide expanses (ranging from national to regional to Atlantic spaces, as well as the globe itself).  How did these networks come into being?  What were their uses?  What is the best way to study circulation and movement?  A second focus of the panel will be examining how people and objects interacted with one another in the revolutionary era.  How did people and objects change, or interpretations of them change, through space and across borders? Translations were unstable.  How do we study culture with politics in a trans-cultural or multi-cultural context? What about plot in these micronarratives?  Where do plots connect at hubs and converge at crossing points? How do we frame these things and people in the context of larger questions?