Michael Hattem

Michael Hattem's picture
Primary field of interest: 

US


I am a fifth-year PhD candidate in early American history. I received my B.A. with Honors in History from The City College of New York. I focus primarily on late colonial and revolutionary political culture. I am especially interested in cultural and political conflict in the late colonial period and the coming of the American Revolution.

Some of my previous research has focused on the political economy of popular resistance in New York City during the imperial crisis, the Enlightenment in print in colonial New York, and the cultural conflict between the first generation of native-born, High-Church Anglican clergy and the dissenting intelligentsia in the Middle Colonies during the 1740s and 1750s.

My dissertation, “Past and Present: The Creation of American History Culture, 1730-1820,” explores the role of historical knowledge and historical memories in American culture and politics from the colonial period through the Revolution and into the early republic. I argue that colonial culture was fundamentally historicized and historical memories of seventeenth-century Britain acted as a lens through which colonists refracted their own contemporary political culture and conflicts. I also argue that those adopted historical memories later proved contradictory to their resistance to British imperial reform during the imperial crisis, forcing colonists to create their own historical memories of seventeenth-century Britain that would justify their resistance, and, eventually, independence. In the decades after the war, a genuinely American history culture emerged and expanded. Historical themes and knowledge could be found in all forms of cultural production and played a foundational role in the emergence of American letters. Most crucially, Americans also created a new American historical memory by reimagining their colonial past. This new history culture and the American historical memory it created were ultimately institutionalized in the establishment of the nation’s first historical societies in the decades following the Revolution.

I am a Contributing Editor at The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History where I write about historiography and the intersections between the eighteenth century and contemporary political culture. I am also the Producer and a regular contributor to The JuntoCast: A Podcast on Early American History. I have also contributed to numerous digital history projects, including American Yawp, an open-access, online American history textbook, My work has been covered in The New York Times. I have appeared in a television documentary by the Discovery Networks, entitled, “American Revolution” and have been interviewed for multiple podcast and radio shows. Finally, I have served as a Research Assistant at the Papers of Benjamin Franklin since June of 2012.