Brendan McConville on the Professional Study of the American Revolution

Brendan McConville of Boston University, a friend and fellow Jersey boy, delivers one of his usually stirring lectures.  This one is at the American Revolution Reborn 2 Conference at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.  McConville pulls no punches.  It is one of the best lectures I have heard in a long time, and I agree with most of it.  I know that Brendan has been taking a lot of heat for this lecture, but some of these things needed to be said.

Here are some provocative quotes:

“If you add the word “Atlantic” or “world” or “global” or “continental” or “race” to a study, it does not necessarily make it any more interesting or comprehensible. At this point they have become cliches rather than offering insight or direction.”

“By privileging novelty over mastery,  we have reached a strange impasse.”  If you want to hear Brendan really riff on this point, fast-forward to the about twenty-minute mark.

“We have run out of oceans to call ‘worlds’…and have run out of “borderlands.”

“Digital humanities does not exist….we need to stop worshiping the tool box.”

I also noticed that Brendan’s graduate school adviser Gordon Wood is in the audience.  I have no doubt he loved this speech.

2 thoughts on “Brendan McConville on the Professional Study of the American Revolution

  1. Brave man. Especially in a milieu like this, where the inexcusable is excused.

    Incoming Boston U. Professor Regrets Remarks About White People

    An incoming assistant professor at Boston University who drew sharp criticism for racially charged posts on Twitter about white people said on Tuesday that she regretted that her passion for issues of race had caused her to speak about those issues “indelicately,” The Boston Globe reported.

    The professor, Saida Grundy, had used Twitter to criticize white people as agents of oppression, among other things, and described white male students as a “problem population.” Her online remarks prompted a torrent of criticism on several conservative websites this week, and amid the backlash, Ms. Grundy’s supporters used the Twitter hashtags #ISupportSaida and #IStandWithSaida to defend her. She has removed her tweets from public view.


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