A Fourth Revolution Around the Sun

By Cindy Ermus and Bryan A. Banks 

The last year has been a productive one at Age of Revolutions. The first three were whirlwinds in their own right (see our wrap-ups here: 1, 2, 3), but this last year has seen our website change in some very significant ways that will inevitably shape this coming year. Our wonderful Haitian Revolution editor, Erin Zavitz left the editorial pool and Erica Johnson Edwards stepped into her place. Our executive editors have been working with the crew at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, along with Lynn Hunt and Jack Censer, to bring to the internet an updated version of the website, Liberty Equality Fraternity (LEF) (coming soon). We will be adding new content to the website to make sure that students and researchers using the site will find their way to Age of Revolutions and from Age of Revolutions back to LEF. Perhaps, even more transformative an endeavor, Age of Revolutions’ executive editors decided to reach out to the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era this past February, striking a deal between the website and the annual conference—which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this upcoming spring in Tallahassee—to publish the conference’s “Selected Papers” on the website! This is huge news for the website and the conference. In many ways, the vision of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era’s board, of which Bryan Banks is now a member, and the website are the same, i.e. to share research on the revolutionary era, 1750-1850, as well as test the boundaries of the traditional view of said period.

This past year saw Age of Revolutions explore the frontiers of traditional scholarship on revolutions. Among our numerous publications in 2019, we published pieces on French activist Flora Tristan; the creation of the metric system; and even one on data science and the 3-point revolution in the NBA. We also published interviews, including one with Sophia Rosenfeld, and continued our tradition of publishing “roundtables” or series that seek to focus on a particular aspect of revolutionary studies. In the spring, we hosted one on material culture, entitled “Revolutionary Material Cultures.” This series unpacked the ways that materials could reflect revolutionary ideologies, but also actively shape revolutions themselves. Whether it was shoes, cockades, Indian peace medals, coral, silver bullets, or the material reality of books themselves, revolutions depend on physical objects and often upend their cultural meanings and uses in surprising ways.

Currently, we are in the middle of a series on religion in the revolutionary era, entitled “Faith in Revolution”—an initial play on words meant to encourage participants and readers to consider the ways that religious affiliation, belief, and ideology may have overlapped with revolutionary change. The series thus far has focused on political ecclesiology around the Atlantic World, the disestablishment clause, and the ways in which women navigated revolutionary change by mobilizing their faith around the Atlantic World and amidst the tumult of the French Revolution. Upcoming posts will take the series through the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, and will challenge our geographical understandings of the revolutionary era.

This year, we also continued to share content related to innovative approaches to teaching the history of revolutions. Rob Taber wrote about his approach to teaching the Age of Revolutions at a historically black college, and explained why fore-fronting the voices of African descendants was critical to reaching his students. Bryan Banks wrote on his approach to the subject and his choice to adopt a paradigmless approach to his class as a way to promote  equity and inclusivity. Aaron Hanlon reflected on his conceptual approach to the class, and Roxanne Panchasi encouraged readers to embrace courses outside of their fields of expertise in her post on teaching the French Revolution as a post-1945 French historian.

In short, it was another dynamic, eventful year at AoR, and we couldn’t have done it without the countless people who make it all possible. A special thanks to our amazing board of editors, our incredible contributors, and of course, all of those who help support AoR by subscribing to the site, reading our publications, retweeting and sharing our content, and talking about us with others. We are thrilled with the growth we have seen in the last four years, and we could not have done it without you. Here’s to 2020, and a new decade of revolutionary content on AgeofRevolutions.com!

Title image: Sanité Bélair, female Haitian Freedom fighter and revolutionary, lieutenant in the army of Toussaint Louverture on Haitian currency. 

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