PhD Candidate Fenton Awarded Dissertation Fellowship

PhD Candidate Will Fenton has been awarded the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Dissertation Fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia. The fellowship supports dissertation research in residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia, America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution.

Fenton has provided the following information about his anticipated work:


I will use the fellowship to conduct archival research for my dissertation, “Unpeaceable Kingdoms: Fighting Quakers, Revolutionary Violence, and the Antebellum Novel,” which considers how nineteenth-century American novelists use “fighting Quakers” to interrogate the violences attendant upon settlement, slavery, and nation-building. Alongside dissertation research, I will work with archivists at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia to create the Digital Paxton, a digital critical edition to the Paxton pamphlet wars (1764).

The pamphlet wars contested the Paxton riots, in which a group of so-called “Paxton boys” murdered Christianized Indians at Conestoga Manor, the Lancaster jailhouse, and pursued refugees to the streets of Philadelphia. While Benjamin Franklin negotiated a settlement, Paxton critics and apologists debated the incident through dozens of pamphlets and political cartoons, using the approval and censure of the Paxton boys’ conduct to stake claims about colonial authority, settlement practices, and Pennsylvania governance and to debate the meanings of race, ethnicity, masculinity, and religious association in pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania.

When it launches in early 2017 the Digital Paxton will narrativize the Paxton riots and pamphlet wars by aggregating, annotating, and contextualizing more than 90 pamphlets, cartoons, and ephemera that currently reside at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia.

The English department congratulates Will!