Philhellenism and the Invention of American History
Lecture by Johanna Hanink
Given at the University of Michigan on January 29, 2018
What does the landing of the Mayflower in Plymouth have to do with the Battle of Marathon? When the Greek revolutionaries declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, to which American citizen did they first send their proclamation? How did the Greek War of Independence shape American identity on the eve of the United States’ 50th anniversary celebration in 1826? This presentation will explore intersections between philhellenism and nationalism, European and American identity, and ancient and modern Greece in early republican America. It will argue that the era’s patriot-orators drew heavily on Greece, both ancient and modern,as they drafted new–and enduring–blueprints of U.S. patriotism.
Johanna Hanink holds a BA in Classics from the University of Michigan, an MA in Latin from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MPhil and PhD in Classics from the University of Cambridge (Queens’ College). She works primarily on theater and performance, literary biography, the cultural life and afterlife of classical Athens, and the historical notion of an ancient “Greek miracle.”