atlantic studies The movement of persons, things, and ideas throughout the Atlantic world transformed the literature and history of the modern and early modern periods in ways that are difficult to grasp from within a national paradigm. The “Atlantic Studies” working group will focus on the commercial, aesthetic, intellectual, and institutional traffic between Great Britain, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean basin, with particular emphasis on the currents shaping that world from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The working group will share research on the literary, political and economic commerce that knit together the Atlantic world, while exploring the implications of Atlantic Studies for disciplinary and institutional protocols. What methodological shifts— in disciplinary approach, in periodization, in conceptual or theoretical frameworks— does the use of an Atlantic paradigm entail? What is occluded by the European orientation of traditional literary and historical study, and what modes and objects of inquiry do trans-oceanic exchanges make visible? Among the topics we may explore are: slavery, migration, and exile; concepts of sovereignty and citizenship; emerging models of global consciousness and the imagining of non-national communities; corporate agency and the imperatives of long-distance trade; Enlightenment and revolutionary consciousness in its metropolitan and colonial guises; and the versions of modernity and futurity to be gleaned from a trans-Atlantic perspective. Among other topics, the 2008-09 discussion will address the writing of anticolonial histories of modernity such as C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins, David Scott’s Conscripts of Modernity, and Sibylle Fischer’s Modernity Disavowed.

Coordinators

Lynn Festa
Department of English, Rutgers

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Chris Iannini
Department of English, Rutgers
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