Tangible imaginations: community, print culture, and American identity in Philadelphia, 1764 - 1776

O'Donnell, Angel-Luke
Tangible imaginations: community, print culture, and American identity in Philadelphia, 1764 - 1776. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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My doctoral project examines the role that serials and printed ephemera played in animating ordinary Philadelphians into revolutionary action. I am interested in the intellectual life of historically inarticulate peoples, and I argue that the moments of intersection between crowds and texts recorded how American colonists contributed their own thoughts toward erudite theories surrounding representative government, liberty, and commercial networks. The central research question asks: what role did texts play in the transformation of British subjects into dissident Americans? Where earlier studies of the Revolution have emphasized either radical argumentation or revolutionary activity, I show how the material text functioned as a vital intermediary by creating a persuasive ideal of the American identity through the physical ubiquity of colonial prints, the distillation of printed ideas into imitable action, the reiteration of instructive texts through public performances, and a consistent message across all media of the virtue and necessity of an American community. In so doing, the thesis no less crucially explores print materials and modes of reader reception deemed relatively inaccessible in previous studies of reading in America. The project concludes by looking forward toward the sectionalism of the nineteenth century arguing that print created a perception of unity without a meaningful unification of the divergent regional practices.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-08 (completed)
Subjects: ?? E151 ??
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2016 15:03
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:33
DOI: 10.17638/02032683
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/2032683