Review: The American Revolution Reborn

The American Revolution Reborn, ed. Patrick Spero and Michael Zuckerman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

15598Between May 30 and June 1, 2013, hundreds of historians, teachers, and students came together in Philadelphia to discuss twenty-first-century perspectives on the American Revolution at a landmark conference, “The American Revolution Reborn.” That conference, which received and receives regular shout-outs here at The Junto, forms the basis for The American Revolution Reborn, an edited collection of essays designed to “upset the patterns of history inquiry that have defined scholarship for the past generation” (3). Much like The Oxford Handbook on the American Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), The American Revolution Reborn seeks to regenerate interest in the Revolution with “new perspectives” that, the editors and contributors hope, “will produce new interpretations of the past that move our understanding forward in new directions” (5). Continue reading

#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

The Return of the American Revolution

MCEAS ConferenceLooking forward to attending one of the largest conferences on the American Revolution in a generation this week in Philadelphia, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the title of the conference—”The American Revolution Reborn“—and its historiographical purchase.

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