- Revolution in the Quarterly?: A Historiographical Analysis
- The William and Mary Quarterly
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- Volume 74, Number 4, October 2017, 3rd series
- pp. 633-666
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Interpretive patterns in the scholarship on the American Revolution have been less linear and dual than tripartite and cyclical, spiraling through whig, progressive, imperial, neo-whig, neo-progressive, and, most recently, neo-imperial alternatives. As the Quarterly relaunched in 1944, a transition in the cycle was already under way, from an imperial- and progressive-school détente to a neo-whig ascendancy, even as calls for synthesis abounded: each turn in the cycle has featured the appropriation of themes and arguments as well as the rejection of competing analyses and the specific subjects these analyses tended to highlight. 1993 was a moment of transition—alternately celebrated or lamented—as a neo-imperial view of the revolution arose, decentering its republican, liberal, and nationalizing aspects in favor of imperial or transnational continuities. Whether in continental, Atlantic, diasporic, or age of revolution modes, the recent emphases on imperial connections, parallels, and broader optics have begun to reenliven American Revolution scholarship even as they tend to change definitions of what historians mean by "the revolution." Moreover, recent trends suggest not so much the centrality of the American Revolution to early American, U.S., Atlantic, and global history as, increasingly, the importance of those fields in shaping views of the American Revolution.