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Guest Speaker and Wagner Alumni Nicole Mahoney will present her talk titled An American Cultural Rebellion: French Goods and People in the Early American Republic
After the ratification of the Constitution, how did Americans distinguish themselves from the British?
By adopting French political culture, material culture, and aesthetics, elite Americans changed the ways in which they represented themselves to the outside world. Not content to be passive consumers of British goods or former colonists on the fringes of the British Empire, ambitious American men and women wielded the symbolic authority of French genteel culture in order to elevate and to legitimize their places domestically and internationally. Americans’ adoption of French genteel culture—and not simply a surrender of British ways—empowered them to cast themselves as more than provincial British subjects. But Francophilia was not without controversy in the early republic and sometimes carried symptoms of Old World monarchism. This talk first examines British colonial mimetic impulses and consumerism and then the influence of French material culture, people, and politics that shaped the society and culture of the new United States.
This event is co-sponsored by ACE and the History Department.