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. 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 dissertation, “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 six chapters:
- The Distance of Tyranny: Information Networks and the Origins of the American Revolution, 1765–1776
- The Lying Gazettes: The American Revolution and the Political Fragmentation of Anglo-Atlantic Information Networks
- English Channels: Information Pluralization and the Struggle for Independence
- The Genius of Information: Scripting North America’s Age of Revolutions, 1778–1795
- Bentalou’s Wager: North American Information Politics and the French Revolution, 1789–1795
- The Fruits of Revolution: Informed Antiradicalism in the U.S., 1795–1800
I’m currently completing a stand-alone article manuscript on 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. For this research, I have made use of topic modeling and digital mapping.