Genealogies of Modernity Episode 4: Jamestown and the Myth of the Sovereign Family


What is the “traditional American family?” Popular images from the colonial and pioneer past suggest an isolated and self-sufficient nuclear family as the center of American identity and the source of American strength. But the idea of early American self-sufficiency is a myth. Caro Pirri tells the story of the precarious Jamestown settlement and how its residents depended on each other and on Indigenous Americans for survival. Early American history can help us imagine new kinds of interdependent and multi-generational family structures as an antidote to the modern crisis of loneliness and alienation.

Researcher, writer, and episode producer: Caro Pirri, Assistant Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh

Featured Scholars:

Special thanks: Molly Warsh

For transcript, teaching aids, and other resources, click here.

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