Mellon-Sawyer Seminar “Rethinking the Age of Revolution”

Brandeis University’s first-ever Mellon-Sawyer Seminar, “Rethinking the Age of Revolution,” will feature a number of exciting public events this year. Lincoln Mullen, a PhD student in History, and Maura Conron, WGS Program Coordinator, have designed a spectacular website for the seminar, which you can view at

Please mark your calendars for our featured events!

September 27, 2013 – 2:00-5:00pm Mandel G03

Symposium: The Axes of Revolution: Space, Time, Idea

Session to explore the genealogy of other seminar “keywords” including rights, liberty, sympathy, and equality, tracking the evolution of these concepts through time and across space.

  • Doris L. Garraway (Northwestern), “On Liberty and Sovereignty in the Haitian Revolution and the Early Haitian state”
  • Eliga Gould (University of New Hampshire), “The Greater American Revolution and the Problem of Dual Sovereignty”
  • Lynn A. Hunt (University of California, Los Angelese), “The Invention of Revolutionary Time”

November 14, 2013 4:00-5:30pm Mandel 303

Mini-Symposium: People in Revolution

Mini-symposium followed by seminar session, to explore the figure of the heroic individual in stories of revolution from the eighteenth century to the present. How have the eighteenth-century revolutions been populated (with heroic martial men, for example), depopulated (of children, the enslaved, most women, and other dependents), and repopulated over time? How and why do certain figures stay in focus—George Washington and Marie Antoinette, for examples—while others crucial at the time recede? Centered on the intersections of biography and history, this session asks big questions about the relationship of the individual to longue durée historical events. We also investigate the age of revolution on a human scale, exploring new ways to recover the intimate history of empires and nations. Will begin with an afternoon public panel discussion.

  • Kathleen A. DuVal, University of North Carolina
  • Amy Freund, Texas Christian University
  • Emma Rothschild, Harvard, Cambridge University

February 27, 2013 4:00-5:30 Mandel 303

Mini-Symposium: Limits of Revolution

Mini-symposium and seminar session to center on arenas where revolutionary thought and practice reached their limits, particularly where matters of race, class, gender, and religion were concerned. How did proponents of new world orders in France, Haiti, and the United States define and delimit the boundaries of citizenship? How did slavery shape ideas of liberty, and vice versa? When and where were the vaunted “rights of man” gendered as opposed to generic? Did the age of revolution expand or limit the freedoms of women, individuals of African descent, Native Americans, and other subject peoples? How were the limits of our three central revolutions replicated or revised by the revolutions that followed? Will begin with an afternoon public panel discussion.

  • Christopher L. Brown, Columbia University
  • Suzanne Desan, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Malick Ghachem, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

April 25, 2013 2:00-5:00 Mandel G03

Symposium: The End(s) of Revolution

This session will attempt a reckoning of the age of revolution, and of our three core revolutions, as seen from the multiple vantage-points of the proletarian movements of 1848 and 1917, the civil rights and student movements of the 1960s, and especially the current moment, where “Arab spring” and “Occupy” arguably constitute revolutions but where the word “revolution” has also been debased into advertising copy and heritage harmony. Most importantly, we will ask how the age of revolution did and did not reshape rights, representation, the global economy and the political map, and we will ask what cultural work eighteenth-century revolutions are performing today.

  • Howard G. Brown, SUNY Binghamton
  • Laurent Dubois, Duke University
  • Jill Lepore, Harvard University

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