This talk examines the Paris Commune as a sensation and a lived practice of counter-remembrance in the long nineteenth century. Tracing the ways annual festivals and celebrations of the Commune united an array of U.S. radicals, the talk shows how these performances of memory drew on the “audacious internationalism” of the Commune to create both a counter-calendar and a counter-memory of the Commune’s failure. Reading Lucy Parsons, Voltairine de Cleyre and Emma Goldman’s writings on the Commune alongside and against both this cycle of leftist remembrance, and the cycle of anxious reprinting these festivals received in mainstream U.S. newspapers, makes more visible and audible the remarkably vibrant and radically internationalist cultures of leftist memory in the long nineteenth century. As a result, we hear beyond the limits of print as an archive of radical memory and lived feeling.
J. Michelle Coghlan teaches nineteenth-century American literature and culture at the University of Manchester. Recent work has appeared in Arizona Quarterly, the Henry James Review and Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities. Her first book, Sensational Internationalism (Edinburgh UP, 2016) chronicles the spectacular afterlife of the Paris Commune in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century US print, visual and performance culture. Her new project, Culinary Designs, charts the rise of food writing and the making of American taste in the long nineteenth century.