Two Cheers for the Nation State: An American Revolution for the Revolting United States
Free Public Lecture
Over the last several decades, new historians of the American Revolution have demonstrated that the war for sovereignty in North America in 1776-1783 was far broader than the creation of the United States, and that the young United States fell far short, in many and multiplying ways, of the soaring ideals expressed in its founding declaration. These interpretive shifts have redrawn the geography, chronology, demography and ideology of the revolutionary era, producing important correctives to scholarly and public histories alike. With full appreciation for that work, some of which is Professor Kamensky's own, this talk takes a contrarian tack, exploring unintended consequences of recent historiographical turns for the civic health of the United States.
Have we thrown out the national baby with the myth-making bathwater? And if so, to what effect? While scholars remain rightly suspicious of the search for a usable past, this lecture seeks to enlist the energies of recent scholarship to fashion a useful – and true – American Revolution, of service to citizens struggling to knit up the tattered fabric of an ageing and vulnerable republic.
Professor Jane Kamensky is Professor of History at Harvard & Macgeorge Visiting Speaker, the University of Melbourne. Supported by the Macgeorge Bequest.
Image: [London]: Pubd by J. Barrow White Lion Bull Stairs Surry side Black Friars Bridge, 1783 Jany 16th. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Professor Jane Kamensky, Professor of History
Professor Jane Kamensky
Professor of History
**Jane Kamensky,** an historian of the Atlantic world and the United States with particular interests in family, culture, and everyday life, is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University and the Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her most recent book, *A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley* (2016), won the NewYork Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History, the Massachusetts Book Prize in Nonfiction, the James Bradford Biography Prize of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize of the American Society for EighteenthCentury Studies; and was a finalist for PEN’s Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing, and the George Washington Book Prize. Her previous books include *The Exchange Artist: A Tale of HighFlying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse* (2008), also a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; and the novel *Blindspot* (2008), jointly written with Jill Lepore. With Edward G. Gray, she is coeditor of the *Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution* (2013). She is currently working on a history of the sexual revolution as revealed by the biography of feminist sex radical Candida Royalle. *Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below,* will be published by W.W. Norton.