Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


WMQ  &   EMSI Workshop—The Age of Revolutions

May 30–31, 2014 • The Huntington Library

Introduction | Program: May 30 • May 31

This workshop focused on new research and innovative historical approaches to the “Age of Revolutions,” a field that largely began in the mid-twentieth century with the germinal work of Jacques Godechot and R. R. Palmer. As more eighteenth-century historians have taken the “transnational turn,” they have raised fresh questions: about, for example, the nature of imperial sovereignty, the importance of Haiti, the connections between revolution and slave emancipation, the relationship between violence and revolution, and the nature of subjectivities and personal identities amidst transnational turmoil. Among the questions presenters addressed: What places, discourses, communities, and objects have newly come into focus? How useful are familiar binaries such as “revolutionary” and “reactionary,” freedom and slavery, empire and nation? How do we navigate the vagaries of multiple archives, retrospective national bibliographies, and archival inequalities? What scales and modes of analysis are most fruitful? Where and how do we set historiographic stakes? What are the connections, not just between American and European revolutions, but also between the Atlantic revolutions and broader global phenomena?

As is the practice for every workshop, Presenters’ papers were precirculated among the workshop participants. In each hour-long session devoted to a particular paper, brief respondents’ comments were followed by thirty minutes of discussion among the participants. Audience members were then invited to join the conversation.


The WMQ-EMSI Workshops are sponsored by the University of Southern California-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute (with financial support from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and are hosted by the Huntington Library and the University of Southern California.