Wednesday, March 22, 2023 from 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
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Rackham Graduate School - University of Michigan 
915 E Washington St
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Anne Bennington-Helber 
U-M Clements Library 

John W. Shy Memorial Lecture 

Fred Anderson will deliver the John W. Shy Memorial Lecture titled From a “New” Military History to a New Grand Narrative for North America: The Surprising Legacy of John Shy on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Join us for coffee, tea, snacks, and cookies at 4:30 followed by the lecture at 5:30 in the 4th floor amphitheatre at the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

In 1976, John Shy introduced a volume of collected essays, A People Numerous and Armed, by calling for a “new” military history that could integrate studies of The War of Independence into the broader political narrative of the American Revolution.  In doing so, he gave a name—unintentionally, I believe—to the historiographical movement that took form during the following decade and a half.  Today, Shy’s vision of an integrative, contextualized history of war continues to animate the study of armed conflicts and military institutions from Antiquity to the modern era.  While those effects are now being felt on a global scale, altering the grand narratives that have long dominated national historiographies, my argument more narrowly considers the impact of new military history approaches on emergent understandings American development from 1500 to the present.  These influences are apparent in numerous recent historical syntheses that treat imperialism as a force no less pervasive than republican political culture and capitalism in the shaping of the United States and the Americas—a powerful corrective to unexamined assumptions, including notions of American exceptionalism, the pernicious myth of the vanishing Indian, and the teleology of the nation-state, that have long afflicted the grand narrative of American history. 

John Shy had this to say about Fred Anderson's Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, "I can hardly exaggerate my admiration for what Anderson has achieved: a big book that makes a complex, often centrifugal history both coherent and engaging, accessible to anyone who reads and cares." Shy wrote a review published in the Canadian Journal of History (Vol. 35, Issue 3) in December 2000.

Funding for the John W. Shy Memorial Lecture has been provided through the generous donations of members of the Michigan War Studies Group.