Project Overview

Researching “Revolutionary-era American Pamphlet Literature in Context: a Documentary History, 1764-1776,” and “Recent Scholarship Exploring The Federalist, 1787-1788,”

Faculty Sponsor

Barry Shain (


Political Science


Project Abstracts
            In the first project for which I seek a student with whom to work this upcoming summer, I’m looking for someone to work for eight or nine weeks in researching the North American British Continental Colonies’ revolutionary-era pamphlet literature.  This project and the book (or books) hopefully to follow will focus on the troubled imperial relationship between the continental colonists and the British Parliament while challenging widely accepted but overly hagiographic views of the historiography of this period.  In the anticipated collection(s), The Revolutionary-Era American Pamphlet Literature in Historical Context, I intend to publish, with various levels of introductions and extended headnotes, 70-80 of the 231 pamphlets printed or reprinted in the colonies in the years 1764-1776.  It is my hope that this volume (or volumes) will show that the most widely read and reprinted pamphlets demonstrate, in opposition to widely accepted views of the Revolutionary-era colonies, that the colonial pamphlets were predominantly responding in opposition and in kind to the British Parliament’s constitutional claims rather than advancing, as is too often and errantly claimed, a seventeenth-century English philosophical radicalism or a still more novel progressive democratic-inspired political theory.  More provocatively, still, I’ll seek to show that the majority of the continental colonists between 1764 and early 1776, at least those whose records we can readily access, hoped to remain in the British Empire and to be ruled by a limited constitutional monarch while maintaining their distance from republicanism and still more so from democracy both which were generally viewed as political pathologies to be avoided except when balanced by other powerful social forces and, thereby, tightly constrained.
            More particularly, I’ll hope this summer -- building on the work of my assistants from previous summers -- to guide those students working with me in completing the head notes which are to precede each of the 80 or so pamphlets to be included in the planned collection.  This will entail that this summer’s researchers find difficult to uncover secondary historical and biographical materials in digital and printed formats -- i.e., materials that weren’t found by my student researchers in the past -- in completing the headnotes; that they gather additional background information on the pamphlet authors; and finally, they put this information together with that found in the past in editing and completing the penultimate draft headnotes from which I’ll author the final headnotes and use in writing various levels of introductions (general and sectional).  Additionally and secondarily (and in part dependent on whether my student collaborators are working remotely or on campus), I’ll ask my researcher(s) to work on helping me in formatting those pamphlets that were reproduced from PDFs -- rather than being retyped -- and that need additional editing before they’ll be ready for future publication.  In a separate but closely related project, I’d like to work this summer with a student in canvassing, printing, and creating an annotated bibliography of Federalist scholarship, both in journals and books, published in the past 15 years.
            In regard to both projects, almost certainly, the student’s or students’ intellectual development will be enhanced by his/her exposure to and increased familiarity with the various schools of interpretation in American revolutionary-era and early-national historiography, and by researching the particular context of each pamphlet’s publication and/or researching and annotating the recent scholarship surrounding arguably the most important political publication in American history, The Federalist.

Student Qualifications

Interest in the topics and strong writing and researching abilities, in particular using online resources.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8-9 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (