CFP: Foundations of Independence

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 by January 15, 2020.