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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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Call for Papers for “The Meaning of Independence,” October 2021

The David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society has issued a call for papers for a conference on “The Meanings of Independence” scheduled for 21-22 October in Philadelphia.

The call says:
The conference aims to convene leading and emerging scholars of the era, museum and library professionals, leaders of cultural institutions, teachers at all levels, public intellectuals, and engaged members of the public for two days of discussion about the meaning and import of the American Revolution in the twenty-first century.

We invite proposals from scholars and professionals at all levels of their careers whose work can contribute to this conversation. Conference organizers hope to highlight new scholarship on the causes, course, and consequences of the American Revolution; the lived experience of the Revolution; its place within a global context; innovative plans for commemorations in 2026; and compelling digital and new media scholarship that presents the era in a new light and to a wide audience.
What Revolutionary topics fall within the purview of this conference? Nearly everything, it seems, but that’s not how calls are written. They have to include an explicitly non-exclusive list of possibilities, as in:
  • Origins
  • New interpretations of the cause of the American Revolution
  • Examinations of overlooked events and individuals that cast new light on the Revolution’s cause
  • Experiences
  • The role of warfare on society and its lasting significance
  • The meanings and consequences of independence, for the various peoples affected by war and political upheaval—including loyalists, enslaved men and women, Indigenous peoples, and non-combatants
  • Perspectives from the top-down and bottom-up, and their interplay throughout the course of the Revolution
  • Global Contexts
  • Papers that place the Revolution within the Age of Atlantic Revolutions
  • The effects of the American Revolution around the globe within its own time and after it, including to the present day
  • Other comparative frameworks that help elucidate elements of the Revolution
  • Legacies
  • The changing meaning of the Revolution for those who lived through it
  • Research that interrogates the idea of a founding moment or moments, including papers that provide a comparative perspective from other countries
  • Legacies of independence in shaping lives, institutions, and ideals of citizenship and patriotism
  • Examinations of past commemorations as well as plans for future ones
  • Teaching the Revolution, past, present, and future
  • Innovative digital and archival projects that provide new access to study of the era
  • Approaches
  • Historical
  • Literary
  • Religious
  • Environmental
  • Legal
  • Political
  • Material culture
  • Gender
  • Native American and Indigenous studies
  • Public history
  • Digital scholarship
  • Otherwise
Now the big question for any event in 2021: How close will participants be to one another? The society says, “In order to maximize the opportunity for informal and formal discussion and collaboration, conference organizers plan to hold this gathering in-person. Should travel in October be unadvisable, the conference will be rescheduled for Spring 2022.” All presenters will receive travel subsidies and hotel accommodations.

Papers should be no longer than 15 double-spaced pages. Scholars hoping to present should submit a paper title, 250-word proposal, and curriculum vitae to the organizers by 15 April 2021 via the Interfolio website. Decisions will be announced in June. Papers will be due in September, one month before the conference, to be pre-circulated to registered attendees. Some presenters might be invited to revise their papers for publication in the A.P.S.’s Transactions, one of the longest running scholarly series in America.

For more information, see the A.P.S. website.

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