Riot and Revelry in Early America

Overview

Riot and revelry have been mainstays of English and European history writing for more than a generation, but they have had a more checkered influence on American scholarship. Despite considerable attention from "new left" historians during the 1970s and early 1980s, and more recently from cultural and "public sphere" historians in the mid-1990s, the idea of America as a colony and nation deeply infused with a culture of public performance has not been widely demonstrated the way it has been in Britain, France, ...

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Overview

Riot and revelry have been mainstays of English and European history writing for more than a generation, but they have had a more checkered influence on American scholarship. Despite considerable attention from "new left" historians during the 1970s and early 1980s, and more recently from cultural and "public sphere" historians in the mid-1990s, the idea of America as a colony and nation deeply infused with a culture of public performance has not been widely demonstrated the way it has been in Britain, France, and Italy. In this important volume, leading American historians demonstrate that early America was in fact an integral part of a broader transatlantic tradition of popular disturbance and celebration.

The first half of the collection focuses on "rough music" and "skimmington"—forms of protest whereby communities publicly regulated the moral order. The second half considers the use of parades and public celebrations to create national unity and overcome divisions in the young republic.

Contributors include Roger D. Abrahams, Susan Branson, Thomas J. Humphrey, Susan E. Klepp, Brendan McConville, William D. Piersen, Steven J. Stewart, and Len Travers. Together the essays in this volume offer the best introduction to the full range of protest and celebration in America from the Revolution to the Civil War.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Each of these essays has the same depth and subtlety of analysis; each is rich in detail and evocative with fresh ideas. . . . Riot and Revelry is a pleasure to read, and demonstrates, if we need reminding, that the study of American history is still full of surprises”
—Michael A. Bellesiles, Journal of American Studies

Riot and Revelry examines the ways in which early Americans used ‘rough music,’ sometimes called ‘skimmington’ of ‘charivari,’ to enforce community standards through vigilante action. The editors . . . have assembled ten outstanding essays that deal with a subject with which most historians have only a passing familiarity.”
—Andrew McMichael, History: Reviews of New Books

“These twelve essays consider rough music, riots, parades, and festivals in early British North America. The authors explicitly draw on methods that French and British cultural historians pioneered and acknowledge their debt to historian Pauline Mair. . . . Consistently lively and readable, this collection will appeal to general and academic audiences of all levels.”
—L. Sturtz, Choice

Riot and Revelry is an important collection of essays that deserves the attention of the scholarly community.”
—Gabrielle Gottleib, North Carolina Historical Review

“(S)cholars of early America interested in popular culture, popular politics, and festive culture should pick up this stimulating volume.

Riot and Revelry in Early America offers detailed case studies with fresh insights into the position of rough music in the colonies, including the nomination of it’s appropriate and legitimate uses that involved whole communities and not only the crowds.”
—Albrecht Koschnik, William and Mary Quarterly

Riot and Revelry in Early America marks a new level of maturity in our understanding of the popular cultures of early America. The essays clearly demonstrate that early America was an integral part of a broader transatlantic tradition of popular disturbance and celebration. In no small way because of the strength of these essays, after long years in the wings America can now assume its rightful place in the history of transatlantic popular.”
—Ronald Schultz, University of Wyoming

“This exciting collection of essays offers a taste of recent scholarship on protest and celebration in early America.

In sum, the essays on festive culture in early America serve as models for future study of rough music, with their detailed attention to context and change over time.”
—Terry Bouton, Journal of American History

Riot and Revelry in Early America offers us an engaging reassessment of a well-studied field.”
—Robert E. Cray, Jr., New York History

Riot and Revelry is an important collection of essays that deserves the attention of the scholarly community.”

—Gabrielle Gottleib, North Carolina Historical Review

Riot and Revelry in Early America offers us an engaging reassessment of a well-studied field.”

—Robert E. Cray, Jr., New York History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271021416
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: ENLARGED
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

William Pencak is Professor of History at Penn State University. Matthew Dennis is Associate Professor of History at the University of Oregon.

Simon P. Newman is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Director of the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies at the University of Glasgow.

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Table of Contents

Introductions
1 Introduction: A Historical Perspective 3
2 Introduction: A Folklore Perspective 21
3 Skimmington in the Middle and New England Colonies 41
4 The Rise of Rough Music: Reflections on an Ancient New Custom in Eighteenth-Century New Jersey 87
5 Crowd and Court: Rough Music and Popular Justice in Colonial New York 107
6 Play as Prelude to Revolution: Boston, 1765-1776 125
7 Rough Music on Independence Day: Philadelphia 156
8 White Indians in Penn's City: The Loyal Sons of St. Tammany 179
9 The Eighteenth-Century Discovery of Columbus: The Columbian Tercentenary (1792) and the Creation of American National Identity 205
10 American Women and the French Revolution: Gender and Partisan Festive Culture in the Early Republic 229
11 African American Festive Style and the Creation of American Culture 255
12 The Paradox of "Nationalist" Festivals: The Case of Palmetto Day in Antebellum Charleston 273
Contributors and Acknowledgments 297
Index 299
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