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Connections, Convergences and Disjuncture - The Glorious Revolution as a Transatlantic Problem Reconsidered


Until the early 1980s, the links between the historiographies of colonial British America and seventeenth century English history were close, especially on the colonial British American side. It was assumed that the origins of American society and culture lay in the society and culture of seventeenth century England and that to understand how America originated and developed it was necessary to pay close attention to transformations in England and Scotland in the seventeenth century. But what has become very noticeable in recent years is that the seemingly close links between seventeenth century English/British history and colonial English/British American history have been eroded. Ironically they have declined at the same time as, and perhaps because of, the geographical expansion of the attention of both historiographies. Seventeenth century English historians increasingly view their subject within the context of “Greater” British history and within a European context while early American historians, enamoured of Atlantic history and borderlands approaches, treat early America as one of several European empires, with as much attention given to Spain and France as to England/Britain. The workshop considers the causes and consequences of these shifts, asks whether they are problematic or productive, and reflects on possible future lines of enquiry.


The workshop was led by Professors Tim Harris (Brown), Mark Peterson (UC Berkeley), Trevor Burnard (Warwick) and Mark Knights (Warwick). Clicking on any of these names will take you to their home page with details of their expertise but, in short, their research interests span Boston and colonial America, the Caribbean and Britain in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. The day long workshop sought to place the events of 1688 in their British and colonial context; examine why the historiographies of the British and American revolutions have become largely divorced from each other; and suggest some ways in which they might be reunited. These formed the focus for three sessions of discussion, which will also draw on participants' reading of texts suggested by the workshop organisers. The workshop was held on 5 November (the anniversary of William's landing at Torbay) 2010 at the Newberry Library and was open to graduates of institutions participating in the Newberry Library Consortium. Full workshop report here

VENUE: Newberry Library, Chicago, USA

8.30-9.00 Welcome and coffee, Newberry Library

9.00-10.00 The Problem Posed: Separate Historiographies? Discussion led by Mark Knights and Trevor Burnard. The reading is here

10.00-12.00 1688 in Britain - led by Tim Harris Reading TH

12.00-1.00 Lunch

1.00-3.00 The Glorious Revolution in America - led by Mark Peterson - the reading is here

3.00-3.15 tea

3.15 -4.45 Discussion about points of intersection- led by Trevor Burnard

4.45-5.00 Concluding remarks and future plans - Mark Knights



1688 playing cards

A pack of Revolution playing cards showing some of the events of 1688 [© The Trustees of the British Museum]

5th November workshop 1

More photographs from the 5th November 2010 workshop here

Full workshop report here