The Age of Revolutions in the Digital Age

Workshop and Anthology

Workshop Dates: Rescheduled for September 11-12, 2020

Information landscapes are changing profoundly. In order to absorb, circulate, and share knowledge, we all must balance “old” and “new” media. This is as true for academics as it is for anyone else, and how scholars negotiate these paradigms shapes our research, our teaching, and our attempts to reach broader publics. And yet, while the technologies and mediums that dominate contemporary communications are indeed new, the opportunities and challenges they pose are not. The late eighteenth century age of revolutions included similarly dramatic upheavals in media and power. Understanding this history offers considerable insight our present moment, and harnessing the potential of digital tools enables new insights into this crucial historical period.

The Institute of Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College invites scholars of history and digital media to join us in exploring how digital tools offer new insights into the Age of Revolutions and how the history of this era can help us better understand our own digital age. Participants working at the nexus of these two fields are encouraged to apply for a workshop-symposium that will take place at Iona College September 11-12, 2020. Participants will also be invited to submit edited and expanded papers for future symposia and considered for inclusion in a volume to be published by Cornell University Press.

Applicants are encouraged to send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a one page C.V. as a single document to itps@iona.edu. The organizers invite submissions from all scholars of early America and/or digital media and particularly welcome proposals from members of under-represented communities. Financial assistance for travel and accommodations may be available for select participants.

Details and Program


Foundations of Independence:
Protest and Communication in Revolutionary America, 1770 to 2020

Hosted by Iona College and the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies

New Rochelle, New York

September 25 – 26, 2020

Application Deadline: January 15, 2020

Conference Program

One of Thomas Paine’s most vocal critics, John Adams, remarked that the “foundation of American Independence” was laid in the chaotic, violent episodes of 1770. Marked by extensive media and strategic rhetoric surrounding events like the Boston Massacre, the transformation of protest movements to independence movements to full scale revolution was deeply connected with communication, from texts and images to oral and printed networks. Public and private opposition to imperial rule spread through exchanges of information, and disinformation, across local, regional, and global lines. As we approach the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the American Revolution, scholars of this period are again confronting questions of multiple foundations, of beginnings and endings, of how to interpret and convey the origins and legacies of the fight for autonomy, all while that autonomy was ultimately for some and not all.

The Fourth International Conference of Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College seeks to engage with narratives of protest and communication around the founding era, from this moment of “foundation” to the present day. Building on previous interdisciplinary conversations at the ITPS and in early American studies involving digital humanities, public history, publishing networks, civic engagement, and commemoration in the Age of Revolutions, the organizers welcome presentations on a variety of subjects that range from a specific focus on the conference theme to a more general connection. These can take the form of individual papers, posters or non-traditional presentations (including film or other creative works), and pre-formed panels and roundtables. Our goal for this program is to include traditional historical topics alongside those focused on public history and museum studies, pedagogy, digital research, archive management, and information sciences. Discussions of the relationship between media, power, and protest and race, gender, class, and Indigeneity are particularly encouraged, as are papers that focus on New York state history and Thomas Paine Studies.

Scholars of all levels are invited to apply from any disciplinary or professional background. Please include a 250-word prospectus and a one-page curriculum vitae together in one pdf document labeled with the applicant’s last name, with your name, paper title, affiliation (if applicable), and email address at the top of the first page of the proposal. Conference presentations will be limited to twenty minutes, and alternative session styles, including round tables, lightning talks, or posters are welcomed. Participants may receive some financial support for travel and lodging expenses. Applicants should e-mail their proposals to ITPS@iona.edu by January 15, 2020.


Claiming the State:
Civics, Inclusion, and Power from the American Revolution to the Civil War

Postponed to December 7, 2021

“Civics, Inclusion, and Power from the American Revolution to the Civil War,” is a joint mini conference co-sponsored by the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture and the ITPS.

See full schedule

Pre-registration required, more details forthcoming.