The Siege and Relief of Gibraltor

Jane Kamensky: "Copley's Wars"

Mary L. Cornille Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 4:30pm
GRH-237 Newhouse Lounge, GRH-235 Newhouse Conference Rm, GRH-240 Newhouse Conference Rm

Historian Jane Kamensky explores the life and art of the painter John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) in the geopolitical context of his times. Copley's era was punctuated by almost ceaseless imperial warfare, including the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic wars, and two bloody conflicts between Britain and North America, the first of which we in the United States call the American Revolution. Those wars—and indeed the age of Atlantic revolutions—look different through Copley's eyes. Copley's art, in turn, looks different when its broader contexts are recovered.

Jane Kamensky is the Mary Ann Lippitt Professor at Brown University and the 2014-15 Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Wellesley College. Before joining the faculty at Brown in 2014, she taught for two decades at Brandeis University, where she won two awards for excellence in teaching, and chaired the Department of History. Born in Manhattan, she received her BA and PhD in History from Yale University. In 2007-08, a “New Directions” grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allowed her to pursue advanced study in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In addition to the Mellon Foundation, her scholarship has been supported by from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.  Kamensky’s major publications include The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), a finalist for the 2009 George Washington Book Prize; and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (Oxford UP, 1997). She is also the author of the novel Blindspot, written jointly with Jill Lepore (Random House, 2008), a New York Times editor’s choice and Boston Globe bestseller. With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (Oxford UP, 2012). Her next book, Copley: A Life in Color, a history of painting and politics in the age of revolution centered on the life of John Singleton Copley, will be published by W. W. Norton. 


photo: The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar, 13 September 1782". By John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), c. 1791