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Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century

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Key Metrics

  • Sarah M S Pearsall
  • OUP Oxford
  • Hardcover
  • 9780199532995
  • 9.3 X 6.1 X 0.9 inches
  • 1.4 pounds
  • History > Europe - Great Britain - General
  • English
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Book Description

The Atlantic represented a world of opportunity in the eighteenth century, but it represented division also, separating families across its coasts. Whether due to economic shifts, changing political landscapes, imperial ambitions, or even simply personal tragedy, many families found themselves fractured and disoriented by the growth and later fissure of a larger Atlantic world. Such dislocation posed considerable challenges to all individuals who viewed orderly family relations as both a general and a personal ideal.

The more fortunate individuals who thus found themselves all at sea were able to use family letters, with attendant emphases on familiarity, sensibility, and credit, in order to remain connected in times and places of considerable disconnection. Portraying the family as a unified, affectionate, and happy entity in such letters provided a means of surmounting concerns about societies fractured by physical distance, global wars, and increasing social stratification. It could also provide social and economic leverage to individual men and women in certain circumstances.

Sarah Pearsall explores the lives and letters of these families, revealing the sometimes shocking stories of those divided by sea. Ranging across the Anglophone Atlantic, including mainland American colonies and states, Britain, and the British Caribbean, Pearsall argues that it was this expanding Atlantic world-much more than the American Revolution-that reshaped contemporary ideals about families, as much as families themselves reshaped the transatlantic world.

Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century

Author Bio

Sarah Pearsall received a Bachelor's degree from Yale University, a Master's degree from Clare College, Cambridge University (where she was the Paul Mellon Fellow), and an M.A. and Ph.D. in early American history from Harvard University, where Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was her advisor.  

She was subsequently the Mellon Fellow in American History and a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge.  She has held teaching positions at St Andrews University, Northwestern University, and Oxford Brookes University (where she was Reader in American History).  

Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Academy, the American Historical Association, the Huntington Library, and the Newberry Library, among others.  She was the Senior Fellow at the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas in 2017-2018.  She joined the Cambridge Faculty in 2012.  

She is a Director of Studies in history at Robinson College, where she has also been a graduate tutor.

 

Source: University of Cambridge Faculty of History 

 

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