Propaganda 1776: Secrets, Leaks, and Revolutionary Communications in Early America

ISBN : 9780199354900

Russ Castronovo
256 Pages
162 x 238 mm
Pub date
Sep 2014
Oxford Studies in American Literary History
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Propaganda 1776 reframes the culture of the U.S. Revolution and early Republic, revealing it to be rooted in a vast network of propaganda. Truth, clarity, and honesty were declared virtues of the period-but rumors, falsehoods, forgeries, and unauthorized publication were no less the life's blood of liberty. Looking at famous patriots like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine; the playwright Mary Otis Warren; and the poet Philip Freneau, Castronovo provides various anecdotes that demonstrate the ways propaganda was - contrary to our instinctual understanding - fundamental to democracy rather than antithetical to it. By focusing on the persons and methods involved in Revolutionary communications, Propaganda 1776 both reconsiders the role that print culture plays in historical transformation and reexamines the widely relevant issue of how information circulates in a democracy.


Introduction: Printscapes and Propaganda
I. State Secrets: Ben Franklin and WikiLeaks
II. Memes, Plagiarism, and Revolutionary Drama
III. From East India to the Boston Tea Party: Propaganda at the Extremes
IV. Epistolary Propaganda: Counterfeits, Stolen Letters, and Transatlantic Revolutions
V. Aftermath: The Poetry of the Post-Revolution

About the author: 

Russ Castronovo is is Dorothy Draheim Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era; Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States; and Fathering the Nation: American Genealogies of Slavery and Freedom.

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