|Will Fenton. Albert M. Greenfield Foundation |
My dissertation examines how nineteenth-century American novelists use the character of the “fighting Quaker” to engage the violence that affected settlement, slavery, and nation-building. Though historians have produced a wealth of scholarship on the Society of Friends’ vexed relation to abolitionism and the American Revolution, few literary scholars have attended to representations of Quakers, and still fewer have examined the remarkable bellicosity of these depictions. Representations of fighting Quakers unify three major but disparately studied subfields of American literary studies: the formation of race during the antebellum period, religious conflict during the Great Awakening, and the constitutive role of violence in nineteenth-century frontier narratives. My study of the historical, political, and theological representations of the Society of Friends seeks to bridge the religious and transnational turns in early American literary studies.
Alongside my dissertation research, I was grateful for the opportunity to expand my digital humanities project with the support of Library Company staff and archival resources. Today, that project, Digital Paxton, hosts more than 1,600 open-source archival images, half a dozen scholarly essays, and numerous teaching materials related to the 1764 Paxton pamphlet war. Thanks to the tireless support of library James N. Green, I have crafted a material exhibition—which just opened outside the Reading Room—to complement my digital project. I was able to share both efforts at a McNeil Center for Early American Studies Seminar, hosted at the Library Company earlier this month.
Albert M. Greenfield Foundation