J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Loyalist Experience of the Atlantic World

One of the hot historical phrases of the past decade has been “the Atlantic world.” This is shorthand for recognizing that the histories of the countries that surround the Atlantic Ocean are greatly intertwined. People not only moved (or were moved) across national borders, but in the Age of Empire those borders encompassed a lot more territory. An enterprising Englishman could travel and settle in Ireland, two or three Caribbean islands, and the colonies that became the U.S. of A. and Canada—regions that have been treated as four different historical specialties, at least—without ever leaving the British Empire.

Once scholars had enjoyed the immediate discoveries arising from that change of perspective, people began to specialize again, looking at “the Atlantic world” through various particular lenses: the African experience of the Atlantic world, the Quaker experience, mahogany’s experience. At last spring’s Omohundro Institute Conference, Prof. Christopher Clark (himself a transoceanic migrant) opined, “These days, we can each have our own Atlantic.”

Which brings me to tomorrow’s deadline for proposals for the “Loyalism and the Atlantic Revolutionary World” conference being planned for 4-6 June 2009 at the University of Maine at Orono. The call for proposals says, “The organizers welcome individual paper and panel proposals from scholars in all disciplines who explore loyalism beyond a U.S. national framework. British imperial, Canadian, Atlantic, and global perspectives are all expected to be addressed over the course of the conference.” Paper proposals should take the form of a 750-word abstract and short curriculum vitae, mailed before the end of Friday.


Judy C said...

Should that read 4-6 June 2009?

J. L. Bell said...

Well, that would certainly make more sense!

Thanks for the correction.