Early American History Seminar: Timothy H. Breen, Northwestern University

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Thursday, May 10, 2007

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

“America’s Insurgency: Reflections on Popular Mobilization During the American Revolution”
Timothy H. Breen, Northwestern University
In this piece T.H. Breen explores the dynamics of popular political mobilization during the years before independence. Rejecting older interpretative models that focus on the rhetoric and leadership of the so-called Founding Fathers, Breen suggests that recent scholarship in economics and sociology provides valuable insights for the analysis of new forms of communication and the creation of radical networks for the exchange of “useful knowledge.” Drawing specifically on the writings Joel Mokyr, Herbert Simon, Gerd Gigerenzer, and James Surowiecki, Breen argues that revolutionaries made key decisions about the tactics of resistance within systems of “bounded rationality.”