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Professor John Donoghue and Dr. Anthony DiLorenzo to present co-authored paper at Université Sorbonne

Professor John Donoghue and Dr. Anthony DiLorenzo to present co-authored paper at Université Sorbonne

On May 27, Professor John Donoghue and Dr. Anthony DiLorenzo will present their paper “Transatlantic Republicanism and Abolitionism in the Longue Durée” at the Institute for the Study of the French Revolution​ at the Paris-Sorbonne. The paper "compares and contrasts the conceptualization and transnational circulation of abolitionist ideas in the mid-seventeenth century English Revolution and the late eighteenth-century “Age of Atlantic Revolutions." Donoghue and DiLorenzo's approach, "stress both continuity and change across time and Atlantic space in the multiple efforts republicans made to eradicate human bondage. Such an approach helps to explain how conservative American reactions to transatlantic French and Irish “Jacobinism” in general, and the Haitian Revolution and the 1798 Irish uprising in particular, negatively impacted early abolitionist agitation in the United States."

Dr. DiLorezno successfully defended his dissertation, "A Higher Law: Anti-Slavery Radicalism in Early America, 1760-1800," in April with Professor Donoghue as chair. Below, both discuss their experience co-authoring the paper. 

 How did you decide to approach this topic?

Anthony DiLorenzo: Initially, Dr. Donoghue did most of the leg-work in proposing our paper topic to the Institute for the Study of the French Revolution​ for this conference. He recognized that my dissertation work on radical antislavery thought and activity on both sides of the Atlantic would be a good fit for its theme, "Ireland and France in the Age of Atlantic Republicanism​." Political revolutionaries in America, England, Ireland and France were all involved in the late eighteenth-century abolitionist movement and formed networks that connected them throughout the period. Dr. Donoghue also recognized that a collaboration between the two of us could reveal some insights on the topic. Both of us are interested in the ways that revolution was tied to antislavery activity, but we focus on different periods. Expanding the frame to capture the long history of anti slavery throughout the Age of Revolutions - starting with the English Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century and continuing through the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions -we hoped, would reveal commonalities as well as change over time. The Irish Rebellion of 1798 has long been of interest to both of us and we also strove to integrate this often neglected even into our analysis.

Professor John Donoghue: For my part, the topic came about after researching the links between the radical republicanism of the English Revolution and the ideological origins of abolitionism, the findings of which were published in an American Historical Review article (October 2010) and in my first monograph,'Fire under the Ashes': An Atlantic History of the English Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2013). I met Pierre Serna, the Director of the Institute for the Study of the French Revolution at the Sorbonne after a lecture I was invited to give on the meaning of freedom and slavery during the age of the English Revolution at the University of Bologna in the fall of 2013. Pierre and I met up again in Paris this past October at a conference, New Directions in the Study of Slavery and Capitalism, sponsored by the Collège d’études mondiales. There I talked with Pierre about Anthony's research on radical republican abolition during the late 18th C and Pierre thought a joint paper from us would be a good fit for the conference he's sponsoring at the Sorbonne in late May ("Ireland and France in the Age of Atlantic Republicanism​").

What was the process like? Find anything surprising?

AD:I was struck by the similarities between the radical political thought of the mid-seventeenth-century English Revolution and that of the later eighteenth-century revolutions. In both periods, antislavery voices consistently emphasized that human bondage contradicted revolutionary ideals -- particularly freedom and equality. Oppression and exploitation was also frequently compared to slavery, not just in the abstract, but directly. In Ireland, for example, some compared unjust British laws to chattel slavery.  And it cut both ways, with some calling on those who protested against anti-Catholic and anti-Irish laws to oppose the African slave trade as well.

JD:In terms of surprises, what's been very gratifying for me as an Atlanticist is that leading intellectual historians of early modern and modern Europe working on the Continent are now taking Atlantic approaches seriously. Atlantic history is now a mature field, and so there is a considerable body of literature that has convinced some Europeanists that re-conceptualizing our notions of historical space can reveal processes of great historical significance  that national paradigms either obscure or marginalize. I'm also happy that Professor Serna has seen the value of Anthony's work. I'm enthusiastic that the conference in Paris will give Anthony the chance to showcase his scholarship before an invited group of very eminent scholars. I think the work Anthony and I have done in the English Atlantic Writing Group (EAWG) [note: EAWG was co-founded by myself and Profs. Bucholz and Roberts in the fall of 2012] with our colleagues from Loyola, from Chicagoland universities, and with fellows from schools the world over working at The Newberry Library has been pivotal in helping us fine tune our scholarship to the point where we are now being asked to present it before international audiences at institutions such as The Sorbonne.  

Anthony, did this paper have an effect on your research for your dissertation?

AD: The focus on this topic in the conference paper definitely expanded my scope and led to some interesting research that was a bit outside of my comfort zone in terms of both period and geography. Collaborating with Dr. Donoghue also helped me to recognize some of the commonalities in our work and method. Entire sections of my dissertation were influenced by my reflecting on how to approach this project, including one on the roots of abolitionist ideology that was influenced by Dr. Donoghue's American Historical Review article and another on the Irish Rebellion that traced radical Irish emigres who fled to the United States -- some becoming vocal antislavery activists. The dissertation clearly benefited from the process and it will be an honor to represent Loyola at such a prestigious institution in France.