#RevReborn, Periodization, and the American Revolution

Two weeks ago, anticipating the McNeil Center’s “The American Revolution Reborn” conference, I wrote a post about my own thoughts on the place (and future) of the American Revolution in the historiography of early America. In that piece, I pointed out that issues relating to causality had gone largely unexplored for a few decades now as attention in the field shifted to the early republic. Both during and after the conference, there has been a substantial amount of internet chatter, from live-tweeting the conference to storifying those tweets to in-depth, panel-by-panel blog recaps. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another theme-specific historical conference that has gotten this level of internet coverage, though I’m sure some have done. But almost all of the coverage has been about recounting the ideas and themes that came out of the conference, with not much attention given to commenting on them. In this piece, I’d like to comment on one of the most fundamental themes that hung in the air over the entire conference: periodization. Continue reading