Topics of expertise and interest
Age of Revolutions; print culture; Early North American political cultures; Atlantic history; continental history.
Information in the Age of Revolutions
When I was researching my undergraduate senior thesis on the French Revolution in the American historical imagination, I was struck by the fact that I could not find out much conclusive information about the kind of news that Americans were reading. Historians seemed to be assuming that American observers had a transparent window onto events in France. Based on their absurd and contradictory beliefs, I suspected otherwise. Once in graduate school, as I was transfixed by the media fragmentation and social media environment of the twenty-first century, I began to investigate the link between politics and communications in the Age of Revolutions.
My book manuscript, “The Page of Revolutions,” focuses on how North Americans experienced information from abroad during the Age of Revolutions. How did news flows mediate between North Americans’ experience of “revolution” abroad and the actual events in places such as Paris, Port-au-Prince, Dublin, and Geneva? How did war, commerce, and even bad weather shape the news that Americans received, and how did this, in turn, shape their political responses to revolutionary events?
The dissertation is organized into three parts and six chapters:
Part One: The American Revolution
Ch. 1: The Distance of Tyranny: The Anglo-American Crisis of Misrepresentation, 1765–1776
Ch. 2: The Lying Gazettes: The Civil War in British Atlantic Information Networks, 1770–1783
Part Two: The Age of Revolutions
Ch. 3: The Diamond Observatory: North American Information Pluralization, 1783–1800
Ch. 4: The Genius of Information: Scripting North America’s Age of Revolutions, 1778–1795
Part Three: The French Revolution
Ch. 5: Bentalou’s Wager: The French Revolution and North American Information Politics, 1789–1795
Ch. 6: The Fruits of Revolution: Fighting Continental Information Politics, 1792–1800
I am currently engaged with a research project about newspaper carriers in eighteenth century North America and the addresses they they read aloud and distributed to their customers on New Year’s Day. This article project allows me to indulge two of my favorite research topics: print culture and bad eighteenth-century poetry. This project examines about 200 addresses as an entry point into the complex and often opaque world of newspaper readership in the late eighteenth century. Who read newspapers? Perhaps more to the point, who didn’t read newspapers?