American Studies Seminar

Fall 2021

A Second and More Glorious Revolution:
Protest and Radical Thought in the Nineteenth-Century United States

with Holly Jackson, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Socialist communes; antislavery insurrections; strikes and riots; Free Love dance parties: the nineteenth-century United States bubbled over with schemes to overthrow the existing social order at a time that is too often misremembered as conservative or “Victorian.” Students in this seminar will explore the literature and culture of American radicalism, discovering the forgotten historical precursors of contemporary social movements like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Me Too. We will read revolutionary manifestoes, convention proceedings, black nationalist novels, and newspapers that advocated the abolition of slavery, capitalism, marriage, and the private home. Though they tirelessly critiqued the nation’s injustices, these activists regarded themselves as the true heirs of the American founders, striving to make good on the utopian promise of the American Revolution and rout out the entrenched social inequalities that had marred the project from its beginnings. Focusing primarily on Massachusetts – and often on Worcester specifically – we will approach the history of social justice activism, and its international implications, from our local context. Pairing assigned readings with primary materials drawn from the unsurpassed collections of the American Antiquarian Society, this seminar provides students with a unique opportunity for guided, hands-on archival research into the texts, movements, and ideas that shaped the culture of radical dissent and the course of American history.

Eligible students may apply online here.


Holly Jackson is an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her work has appeared in scholarly journals including PMLA, American Literature, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, and the New England Quarterly, as well as in popular venues including the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post. She is the author of two books, most recently American Radicals: How Nineteenth-Century Protest Shaped the Nation (2019), which was hailed among the year’s best works of nonfiction by Smithsonian Magazine and The Advocate.

Working with primary materials in the libraryWHEN AND WHERE
The seminar will meet Thursday afternoons from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.

The 2018 American Studies Seminar class led by Jen ManionWHO IS ELIGIBLE
The seminar welcomes applications from students in all disciplines whose academic record, personal statement, and letter of recommendation indicate a commitment to academic excellence, the ability to work independently, and a sincere interest in the seminar’s subject matter.

Previous American Studies Seminars

2019 Pirates in Early America Lisa H. Wilson
2018 Early American Transgender Studies Jen Manion
2017 Industrializing Massachusetts: Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester, 1800-1875 Robert Forrant
2016 The Worm in the Apple: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in Early New Englan Joanne Pope Melish
2015 The North's Civil War: Union and Emancipation Kevin M. Levin
2014 Portraits, Dolls, and Effigies: Humans as Objects in America Caroline Frank
2013 The Nineteenth-Century Networked Nation: The Politics of American Technology, 1776-1876 Daniel Klinghard
2012 Reason, Revival, and Revolution: Religion in America's Founding, 1726-1792 Stephen A. Marini
2011 Dressing Democracy: Clothing and Culture in America Hannah Carlson
2010 History of Sexuality in Early America Sarah Anne Carter
2009 America's Environmental Histories Megan Kate Nelson
2008 "Written by himself... Written by herself" American Life Stories: The Northern United States 1780-1860 Jack Larkin
2007 Captive Histories: Puritan Captivity Narratives and Native Stories from the Era of the Colonial Wars, 1675-1760 Kevin Sweeney
2006 Personal Narratives from the Age of the American Revolution, Or Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times Joseph Cullon
2005 Childhoods Actual and Imagined: New England, 1790-1860 Jack Larkin
2004 Communication in the Early Nation: Literacy and Print in America, 1750-1840 Catherine A. Corman
2003 Imagining the Civil War: Race, Gender and the Popular Culture, 1860-1877 Carolyn J. Lawes
2002 Private Writings: Their Uses and Value for History and Literature Helen R. Deese
2001 Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture in Early America, 1674-1860 Daniel A. Cohen
2000 Romanticism Confronts History: Literary and Material Culture in the United States, 1820-1876 Harvey Green
1999 The Shaping of Historical Memory: Collecting the Artifacts of America's Past, 1790-1840 Barnes Riznik
1998 Seeing America First: Exploration and Imagination in North America, 1500-1900 Gregory H. Nobles
1997 Accounts of the Self: Autobiography and Personal Narrative in Antebellum America Ann Fabian
1996 Revolutionary Narratives: Memory and Desire in Antebellum America Wayne Franklin
1995 Wilderness Views: Nature as Other, Self, and Enterprise in American Culture c.1776-1900 Janice Simon
1994 Children's Books and Childhood Reading in Early America Samuel F. Pickering, Jr.
1993 The Invention of New England in the Nineteenth Century Dona Brown
1992 Little Women and Self-Made Men: Gender in the Nineteenth Century Lee Heller
1991 Slavery and Antislavery in American Civilization, 1820-1861 William W. Freehling
1990 Law and Society in America, 1760-1860 Jonathan M. Chu
1989 Religion in the American Revolution Stephen A. Marini
1988 Health and Health Care in America's Past Philip Cash
1987 The Constitution and the Press, 1787-1788: Popular Culture, Political Opinion, and the Ratification Debates Charles E. Clark
1986 The American Landscape John Conron
1985 Antebellum and Civil War Biography Betty Mitchell
1984 The Lethal Imagination: Perceptions of Western Violence in American Thought, 1850-1900 Robert R. Dykstra
1983 Ethnic America Before the Flood: The Irish and Others Charles Fanning
1982 High Culture, Low Culture: Recreation and Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century America Donald M. Scott
1981 Individual, Family, and Community in Eighteenth-Century New England Ross W. Beales
1980 Community Life in Preindustrial Worcester Kenneth Moynihan, Charles Estus
1979 Popular Culture in Preindustrial America, 1650-1850 David Hall
1978 Literature and Society in Jacksonian America: Writers Confront the Marketplace Stephen Nissenbaum

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