Creating, Maintaining, and Contesting Power in the Atlantic World, 1600-1778 [Preview]

This is the first in a series of presentation previews of the 8th Annual Loyola University Chicago Graduate Student History Conference, to be held November 5, 2011. If you would like to learn more about the topics or the scholars, please leave a note in the comments of this post.

The period 1600-1800 marked a tumultuous time in the British Atlantic.  Population growth, demographic change, and economic transformations pushed England into a period of social instability.  This tension was exacerbated by Civil Wars, regicide, overseas expansion, and repeated conflicts with the French and other Continental powers.  The tenuous line between stability and instability brought issues of power and control to the forefront of social and political discourse. Moreover, Britons on both sides of the Atlantic spent considerable time addressing these notions in both explicit and implicit ways.  Each time someone created or challenged authority, it shed light on the myriad forces that created the infrastructure for social relations in the Atlantic world.

Erin Feichtinger’s paper “Unhappy Wretches: Interpretation of Emotions in the Ordinary of Newgate’s Account shows how English officials attempted to maintain order through the written word.  By exploring the Ordinary of Newgate’s Account, Feichtinger sheds light on what values, ideals, and attitudes the Ordinary attempted to foster, or in some cases, eliminate.  In doing so, the Ordinary was able to shape political discourse through exercising power over the condemned.  Peter Kotowski’s “The Best Poor Man’s Country?  Indentured Servitude in Pennsylvania, 1650-1750,” approaches the issues of authority and power from a different perspective.  In trying to re-examine the historiographical narrative of Pennsylvania, Peter Kotowski offers an opposite view to Feichtinger’s work.  Rather than focusing on those who manipulated power, Kotowski uses indentured servants to show how they were manipulated and controlled in Pennsylvania during the first half of the eighteenth century.  In doing so, he calls for a reassessment of both the historiography of servants, and the literature on Penn’s Woods.  Finally, Aaron Brunmeier’s “The Quartering Act, Taverns, and New York City’s Radicalization: A Reinterpretation of the Imperial Crisis, 1765-1770,” looks at the public sphere of the New York Tavern as a locus for contested notions of control.  Brunmeier argues that tensions over the implicit and explicit implications of the Quartering Act manifested themselves in popular and radical protest stemming from the tavern.Read More »