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Michael Lynch

Doctoral Candidate


I did my undergraduate work at a small university near the junction of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia before coming to UT to do graduate work on memory and the Revolutionary War in the South.  My plan was to become a public historian, and after completing my M.A. I spent several years working in museums and teaching as an adjunct before deciding to return to graduate school for a Ph.D.  I'm currently a doctoral candidate working under Dr. Christopher Magra.
My dissertation is tentatively titled, "Manliness, Authority, and Allegiance on the Revolutionary Frontier." It examines the links between gender and authority and their impact on the American Revolution along the Appalachian frontier.  I argue that ideas about manliness shaped the frontier role in the Revolution in ways that were both profound and paradoxical.  Settlers in present-day East Tennessee and southwestern Virginia shared many notions about what it meant to be a man with their contemporaries in other parts of British America.  These shared notions helped facilitate a cross-regional alliance between Patriots living west of the Appalachians and Revolutionaries elsewhere.  But authority on the eighteenth-century frontier was tenuous, and this made backwoods settlers seem disorderly and licentious to many observers.  This perception of licentiousness strained the Revolutionary alliance between easterners and frontiersmen, because restraint was an important component of ideal manliness in early America.
I also employ gender to explain the Revolutionary conflict between white settlers and Cherokees.  These two groups had different ideas about what manhood meant, which helped determine their respective allegiances when the Revolutionary War broke out.  Leaders in both cultures had difficulty restraining unruly men's behavior, and this contributed to the bitterness and violence that characterized the Revolutionary experience on the frontier.
Here at UT I've been fortunate to receive the 2014 Milton M. Klein Fellowship, the 2016 Susan Becker Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2017 Gender Studies Award.  I was also grateful to receive a residential fellowship from the David Library of the American Revolution and an Archie K. Davis Fellowship from the North Caroliniana Society to support my dissertation research.  In addition to working as a teaching assistant, I had the pleasure of spending a semester as an assistant for academic programs at UT's McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Research Interests

Field of Study: Early American History

Research Interests: American Revolution, Colonial America, Early Southern Frontier/Backcountry and Appalachia, Gender, Military History


Doctoral Candidate: University of Tennessee, 2016
M.A. History: University of Tennessee, 2006
B.A. History: Lincoln Memorial University, 2001

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