We are proud to announce that Public History PhD student, James Wils, is the latest student to graduate from our PhD program. James’s thesis, “E Pluribus Unum: Revolutionary Monuments and the Nation in the Early American Republic, 1776-1848,” explores early monuments to the American Revolution and traces the evolution of a national commemorative tradition that coalesced from a shared colonial experience. In contrast to the prevailing historical perception of American monuments as instruments of democratic commemoration, he recasts early American monuments as republican devices, as citizens of the early republic would have perceived them. I thus theorize that a national American tradition with monuments emerged from tensions wrought between official (or national) and vernacular (local or regional) efforts to commemorate the Revolution in an appropriately republican framework.
James future plans are to continue teaching at Wake Tech while exploring avenues for public history engagement. He is also in the early planning stages of developing an American history podcast.