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John Smolenski, "Origins Stories, or, What’s so Funny About Peace, Violence, and American Exceptionalism"

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Event:
John Smolenski, "Origins Stories, or, What’s so Funny About Peace, Violence, and American Exceptionalism"
Start:
May 22, 2017 12:00 pm
End:
May 22, 2017 1:30 pm
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Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: 4217 SSH

Historians who have written about the creation of “American” society have struggled to account for the absence and presence of peace and violence in their origin stories. Some have suggested that a distinct American nationhood, free from European influences, emerged through the from the conquest of the frontier. Yet these stories occlude moments of peace that existed, however fleetingly, during the colonial period. Scholars of the American Revolution have wondered if independence wrought a social as well as a political transformation, without fully acknowledging either the limits of these transformations or the ways in which they encouraged everyday forms of violence. These origin stories, repeated in various forms throughout the twentieth century, have both relied upon and reinscribed a particular form of American exceptionalism. In this paper, I argue that a more nuanced focus on peace and violence as recurrent and reciprocal processes in early American history offers a way to puncture this exceptionalist paradigm. In turn, I believe that this intellectual focus might offer a way to incorporate origin stories about Anglo-America into larger narratives of Atlantic and world history.

This event is sponsored by the Department of History Colloquium.

For more information please contact: Corrie Decker, crdecker@ucdavis.edu


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