Q&A: Patrick Spero and Michael Zuckerman

15598Following on from yesterday’s review of The American Revolution RebornThe Junto was fortunate enough to get to ask a few questions of the volume’s editors. Both Patrick Spero, Librarian of the American Philosophical Society, and Michael Zuckerman, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, were instrumental in organizing the highly successful conference that led to the volume. In the Q&A below, the organizers/editors reflect back on both the conference and the volume, their effect on their own views of the Revolution, and their hopes for the legacy of both the conference and the volume. The Q&A is published here in its entirety. Continue reading

No Politics, No Revolution

If there is a current orthodoxy among historians of the American Revolution, it is that the study of the Revolution has lost its focus. In their introduction to the Common-Place edition recapping the McNeil Center’s “The American Revolution Reborn” conference, Patrick Spero and Michael Zuckerman wrote of “a field that had grown stale” and that was “losing its verve, and worse, its center.” The call for papers for the forthcoming Massachusetts Historical Society conference effectively described the field as being stuck in a historiographical rut. There is a reason that study of the Revolution has lost its center. It has failed to concentrate its focus on politics. Continue reading

The Revolution is Reborn at Common-place

home_revolutionLast summer, Philadelphia witnessed a gathering of many delegates who discussed British tyranny and American liberty. Though none of the resulting documents may be as influential as Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the proceedings of “The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century” should at least instigate some debate. The conference itself was a product of generosity from Frank Fox, the American Philosophical Society, the David Library of the American Revolution, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Samuel Adams® (the beer, who aptly supplied refreshments for the reception), and the Museum of the American Revolution (who provided an expansive—and sweltering!—location for the closing activities). A good number of Juntoists were in attendance—there is even photographic evidence!—and the excellent speakers sparked good discussion. Patrick Spero and Michael Zuckerman should be commended for organizing the event. Continue reading

When Was the Last Time You Loved America?

MCEAS Conference

Few issues trouble historians of all stripes more than the disconnect between “popular” and “academic” history. Somewhere in the mists of the recent past the Age of Hofstadter gave way to, at best, the Age of McCulloch and, at worst, the Age of Barton.[1] The waning influence of professional historians in the public sphere particularly troubles the historical blogosphere. The popular-academic history disconnect is something addressed a lot here at The Junto, including with a podcast.

I am, as I said on the JuntoCast episode, particular dour about the possibility of bridging this gap. Academic historians, public historians, and interested members of the public more often than not talk past each other. How each group defines “good” or “useful” history is often so at cross-purposes that it sounds like one side is speaking English, another French, and another Dothraki.[2] My attention was recently drawn to a series of posts by Peter Feinman at New York History, which deeply entrenched my Eeyore-like-sullenness when it comes to these questions. Continue reading

The JuntoCast, Episode 2: The American Revolution

The JuntoCastThe Junto is happy to present the second episode of “The JuntoCast,” our new monthly podcast featuring Juntoists discussing issues related to early American history, academia, pedagogy, and public history. 

In our second episode, Kenneth Owen, Michael D. Hattem, Roy Rogers, and Eric Herschthal use the recent MCEAS conference, “The American Revolution Reborn,” as a springboard to launch into a discussion on questions of periodization, Atlantic and global contexts, the limits of “republicanism,” and the value of recovering “lived experience.”

You can click here to listen to the mp3 in a new window or right-click to download and save for later. You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHHere at The Junto, we’ve spent the last week with our noses buried in one really, really good book. But there’s been much afoot elsewhere, both on the web and beyond.

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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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