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February 15, 2011

Two Historians Present Compelling Views on 18th-century America

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg host two professors whose ideas on 18th-century America may change how we view history.

Jack P. Greene, one of the most respected and influential historians in the fields of Colonial American history and the American Revolution, discusses the ways in which our understanding of America’s founding have evolved during “The Changing Focus of Colonial American History: Some Brief Reflections.” The presentation is at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium.

For more than 40 years, Greene was a member of the history department at Johns Hopkins University and was named the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities in 1976. He now is on the faculty of Brown University. His most recent book is “The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution.” He examines what it’s like to be an American within a British empire.

He currently is Colonial Williamsburg’s senior scholar in residence at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library. In this position, he is completing a review of the questions resolved and unresolved about the American Revolution. Greene also is a member of Colonial Williamsburg’s Advisory Council for the American Revolution Web project, a major initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Paul Mapp, associate history professor at the College of William and Mary, links geographic ignorance about the American West to Europeans’ grand geopolitical designs during a presentation, “The Elusive West and the Contest for the Empire, 1713-1763,” at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium.

In the first two-thirds of the 18th century, imperial officials in London, Paris or Madrid knew very little about western North America. Yet Europe’s competition to gain access to the Pacific Ocean and control trade to the Far East enhanced the importance of western American territories. Mapp reconstructs French, Spanish, British and Amerindian ideas about these unknown regions, especially the elusive Northwest Passage, and shows that a Pacific focus is crucial to understanding the causes, course, and consequences of the Seven Years' War.

Mapp received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2001. He specializes in the history of early modern North America and the Atlantic world, and is particularly interested in exploration, geographic thought and imperial competition.

Book signings follow both presentations.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket, museum pass or Good Neighbor Card provides access to both programs.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday from Jan. 3 through March 13, 2011. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121



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