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, January 14, 2021

“News Media” Institute for Teachers at A.A.S., 26-31 July

Last summer, the American Antiquarian Society had planned a weeklong National Endowment for the Humanities Institute for educators. And then the pandemic began, and by fall the government had let it get out of control.

The A.A.S. has therefore rescheduled that N.E.H. Institute for this summer and moved it online. “The News Media and the Making of America, 1730–1800” will take place 26-31 July 2021. Full information is posted here.

N.E.H. Institutes are designed principally for American educators, including teachers and other professionals. This one is limited to twenty-five participants. There’s an application process, with a stipend and development certificates for those who are accepted. The application deadline for this course is 1 March.

This weeklong colloquium and workshop will explore how media was used during the Age of the American Revolution and how news—in all its various forms—was connected to civic engagement. According to the description, it will be organized into four thematic units:
(1) The Colonial Media Milieu, which will focus on the multiplicity of news sources in early America and explore what people thought was news, what sources they used to gather and authenticate news, and what role news seems to have played in their understanding of public life in their community.

(2) The Long Revolution, which will explore the forty-year period from 1760 to 1800 to examine how people living in rural Massachusetts interacted with the urban media in Boston; how the news of the violence at Lexington and Concord was portrayed in the newspapers and broadsides; and the relationships between printers and how personal, family, and business networks impacted what information they printed.

(3) The Republican Experiment, which will cover the decade or so between the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789 and Jefferson’s election to the presidency in 1800 by focusing on the concept of “republicanism.” The creation of the new federal union in 1887–89 in no way ended the controversies over how that union should be organized, and much of the news of those years had to do with conflict over the meaning of liberty, self-rule, federalism, and the proper structures of a government in a large and diverse republic such as the United States.

(4) The Revolution in Memory, which will act as a coda to our end date of 1800, tracing into the nineteenth century the public memory of the Revolution and the political uses of the Revolution’s events, language, and symbolism. An endless parade of bestselling biographies of the Founding Fathers and even a hit musical about Alexander Hamilton all attest to the long and significant afterlife of the Revolution.
The faculty scheduled for this institute include the expert A.A.S. staff; Prof. David Paul Nord, author of Communities of Journalism; Prof. Joseph Adelman, author of Revolutionary Networks; and Gary Gregory from the recreated Edes & Gill print shop in Faneuil Hall.

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