Top Young Historians: 122 – Katherine Carté Engel


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

122: Katherine Carté Engel, 3-28-11


Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, 2004 – Present
Area of Research: Early American Religious History, German Immigration, Transatlantic Pietism, Backcountry
Education: Ph.D., American History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003
Major Publications: Carté Engel is the author of Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), the 2010 Dale W. Brown Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, awarded by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. Katherine Carté Engel JPG
Carté Engel is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Religion and the Economy: New Methods for an Old Problem,” Early American Studies 8(3), Fall 2010, 482-514;
“The Evolution of the Bethlehem Pilgergemeine,” in Jonathan Strom and James Melton, eds., Pietism in Two Worlds (New York: Ashgate, 2009), 163-181; With Jeffrey A. Engel, “On Writing the Local within Diplomatic History: Trends, Historiography, Purpose,” in Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. Lives and Consequences: the Local Impact of the Cold War (Palo Alto and Washington, DC: Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2007) 1-32; “‘Commerce that the Lord Could Sanctify and Bless’: Moravian Participation in Transatlantic Trade, 1740-1760” in Michele Gillespie and Robert Beachy, eds., Pious Pursuits: German Moravians in the Atlantic World (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 113-126; “Bridging the Gap: Religious Community and Declension in Eighteenth-century Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era, 11 (2005), 407-442; “The Strangers’ Store: Moral Capitalism in Moravian Bethlehem, 1753-1775,” Early American Studies 1(1), January 2003, 90-126, Winner First Place, Colonial Society of Pennsylvania Article Prize, 2003.
Awards: Carté Engel is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
2010 Dale W. Brown Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, awarded by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies;
ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship, 2009-2010 Competition Year;
SHEAR Research Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia-Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2010;
American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant, 2009;
Pew Young Scholars in American Religion, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, 2007-2009;
McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Barra Postdoctoral Fellow, 2004-2005;
First Place, Colonial Society of Pennsylvania Article Prize, 2003;
Yale University, Center for Religion in American Life Dissertation Fellow, 2002-2003;
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Research Fellow, 2001;
Program in Early American Economy and Society-Library Company of Philadelphia Dissertation Fellow, 2000-2001;
DAAD Sprachkursstipendium, Goethe Institute, Iserlohn, Germany, 1999.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, Camden Campus, 2003-2004.


When I talk about my first project, Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America, I am often asked if I’m a Moravian. For me this moment always crystallizes the challenges of using a case study to prove a broader point. Despite the denomination’s pivotal importance to the rise of evangelicalism in the eighteenth century, its relatively small size today has meant that most people assume only an insider would choose to devote so much time to its history. I’m not a Moravian; I came to the study Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s early history as a graduate student interested in the social history of religion in the diverse middle colonies, in how religion interwove with and was shaped by the market economy, in transatlantic religious community. To look at these big issues in the close way I wanted to, I needed examine a single cohesive community, and the Moravians fit the bill.

My first trip to the Moravian Church Archives in Bethlehem came in 1996, when I started working my dissertation proposal. The archivist at the time, Rev. Vernon Nelson, was cautiously welcoming. He inquired if I spoke German. I didn’t. He steered me towards some account books which had been kept in English, and he probably expected I’d never be back. A few weeks later I defended my dissertation proposal. One of the committee members asked if I spoke German, and I glibly responded that I would learn it. That glibness evaporated when I had to get down to work, however. I relocated to Germany and, when I came back, I got a little apartment in Bethlehem, just in time to take the old German Script course offered annually by the Moravian Archives. Then I became a fixture in the archives, working at what seemed to me to be a snail’s pace through a mountain of eighteenth-century documents.

At first this seemed profoundly isolating. I was hundreds of miles from my grad program, and I knew no one well. But here I found the unexpected benefits of doing a close study. The archives supported its own particular community. A grandmotherly office manager. Two Moravian ministers with children older than me. A septuagenarian philanthropist with boundless passion for the maps of eighteenth-century Bethlehem. A former Catholic priest who fled the Nazis in his native Germany. In a fit of silliness, I dyed my hair red to see if anyone would comment. No. As soon as I let them, however, I was taken in by this warm, caring, and intellectually lively community of folks whose love for Bethlehem’s past was a graduate student’s dream. Life improved again when another woman started a major research project, and she brought boundless good humor to the mix.

Any historian who’s encountered the Moravians knows that they kept unparalleled records, filled with the tiny details a social historian loves, yet always with an eye to the wider world. You can ask nearly any question of these sources, big or small, and find some version of an answer. Just as important for me, however, was the help I received from their modern custodians. They never appeared to tire of my tiny finds. They let me spread enormous account books across long rows of tables, and then leave them there for weeks. They spent hours tracking down random bits of evidence I might want to see. They helped me sort out cramped and difficult handwriting. They brought me along for lunch at the local diner, which, since I’m disinclined to spend more than a nanosecond in the kitchen, kept me from giving all my money to the local convenience store. Most important, they were deeply supportive of scholarship. They never attempted to influence how I or any other visitor interpreted the materials in the archives. Much has changed at the Moravian archives since I did the bulk of my research – new leadership and exciting new projects-but the Moravian historical community’s most important gift to scholars has not changed. It continues to be a place that supports intellectual exploration of all kinds.

I’m now working on a very different project, a study of how the American Revolution changed the idea and the practice of international Protestantism. It requires work in more than a dozen different archives, using a wide variety of sources. While I came to this project in much the same way as I did my work on the Moravians, and I find this set of questions about religion and politics as compelling as I did the last set about religion and the economy, I will miss the chance to get to know a single community so closely.


By Katherine Carté Engel

  • The relationship between religion and economic life is one of the thorniest and most intractable topics people have found to argue about. It has provoked some of the most enduring historical scholarship of the modern era and simultaneously fueled some of the noblest jeremiads. At the crux of the dilemma is an elusive problem. Religion and the selflessness of true faith (particularly though by no means exclusively in a Christian context) appear to be in eternal conflict with the process of material accumulation that drives a market economy. And yet, though the conflict between religious faith and economic life seems inevitable, numerous exceptions leap to mind, where devout souls prospered, or wealth seemed to further religious ends. …. In daily life, the moments where religion was brought to bear on the economy were small, subtle, and frequent. Should a merchant take advantage of an ignorant buyer, or would the application of his business savvy violate his faith? Should a church’s trustees use an innovative and complicated means of finance, such as a corporate structure? Should a missionary sell goods to prospective converts, potentially mingling commerce with the message he or she tried to convey? These were the nitty-gritty questions about the morality of economic life faced by religiously minded early Americans, and when they arose the idea of a grand historical conflict between religion and the market offered little clarity. Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America JPGThe Moravians’ experience points to the fundamental problem created by examining the question of religion and economic life in isolation from the rest of life, be it politics, immigration, race, gender, war, or (literally) the price of tea in China. When mundane transactions are the terrain under examination, the scholars’ lens is focused in very tightly. Yet such an approach also places the story on a much wider stage, for those transactions were part of an economy and political system that circled the Atlantic, encompassing four continents and many peoples. Bethlehem declined, but the insidious rise of acquisitiveness within the hearts of its residents was not to blame. For the Moravians, the pivot point came from another quarter entirely. The community’s ties to a church hierarchy in Germany connected it to events and developments in far distant quarters. The Unity’s circum-Atlantic presence created opportunities for it, such as the Commercial Society, that drew on the Caribbean and South American plantation economies. Likewise, the multiple pressures of the Seven Years’ War, financial and, closer to Bethlehem, racial, sharply curtailed the Moravians’ religious choices. The result was ineluctable: a renegotiation of the role of religion in Bethlehem’s economy. The individualized economic ethic that characterized Bethlehem’s religious life in the last quarter of the eighteenth century was fully Moravian, but it was fundamentally different from what came before. — Katherine Carté Engel in “Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America”

About Katherine Carté Engel

  • “The argument Engel makes is sophisticated, detailed and original…..She draws on an impressive range of primary and secondary sources and organizes the argument in a compelling way, in clear prose. In terms of the quality and originality of scholarship, this volume clearly stands [out].” — Dale W. Brown Book Prize in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies Award Committee
  • The book award judges selected Religion and Profit from a pool of 28 books nominated for the award this year. One judge notes that Engel’s book is “engaging and well-written at the same time that it is well-researched and makes excellent use of primary sources,” and that it “links the focus group (Moravians in Bethlehem, Pa., in the eighteenth century) with broader scholarship, challenging major historical/sociological assumptions about the relationship between religious belief and economics.” Another says that “the argument Engel makes is sophisticated, detailed and original….She draws on an impressive range of primary and secondary sources and organizes the argument in a compelling way, in clear prose. In terms of the quality and originality of scholarship, this volume clearly stands [out].” — “Katherine Carté Engel receives 2010 Brown Book Award”
  • This well-researched and carefully organized study traces the history of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from its founding in 1741 as an outpost of the international Moravian movement through the tumultuous events of the Seven Years’ and Revolutionary Wars into the much altered circumstances of the early-nineteenth century. Its focus is the interconnection of religious and economic spheres that made the Moravians’ New-World experience so unusual in its own time and so intriguing for later historians. …. With her extensive use of German as well as English sources, her close attention to local events and world developments, the book is a noteworthy example of Atlantic history at its best. — Mark A. Noll, Catholic Historical Review
  • There is a lot going on in Katherine Carté Engel’s Religion and Profit. At its center, the book explores the intersections of religious ideals and economic activity over the course of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s journey from a communal to an individual economy. Along the way, Engel discusses the relationship between this Moravian community and the Indian missions it was founded to support, the critical role played by the Moravian Brethren’s transatlantic trade ties, and the impact of the Seven Years War; she also takes on earlier analyses of religion and economics-specifically Perry Miller’s declension model. This makes for a wide-ranging and fascinating book. — Elizabeth W. Sommer, Journal of American History
  • Engel has successfully marshaled complex sources for an excellent, textured, and nuanced tale awash in the tides of war, racial tension, and internal religious differences to examine the dynamic interplay of religion and profit among Moravians in the Atlantic world. — Jeff Bach, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

Top Young Historians: 121- Thomas A. Guglielmo


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

121: Thomas A. Guglielmo, 2-14-11


Teaching Position: Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, American Studies Department, George Washington University
Area of Research: Race and ethnic studies, immigration, and twentieth-century U.S. social, cultural, and political history.
Education: PhD, University of Michigan, 2000
Major Publications: Guglielmo is the author of White On Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003);Thomas A. Guglielmo
He is presently at work on a second book, forthcoming with Oxford University Press and tentatively entitled Race War: World War II and the Crisis of American Democracy. Guglielmo is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Fighting for Caucasian Rights: Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and the Transnational Struggle for Civil Rights in World War II Texas,” Journal of American History 92 (March 2006): 1212-1237;
“Encountering the Color Line in the Everyday: Italians in Interwar Chicago,” Journal of American Ethnic History 23 (Summer 2004): 45-77;
“Rethinking U.S. Whiteness Historiography,” in Whiteout: The Continuing Significance of Racism, ed. Ashley Doane and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (New York: Routledge, 2003), 49-61;
“‘No Color Barrier’: Italians, Race, and Power in the United States,” in Are Italians White?: How Race Is Made in America, ed. Jennifer Guglielmo and Salvatore Salerno (New York: Routledge, 2003), 29-43;
“The Changing Meaning of Difference: Race, Color, and Ethnicity in America, 1930-1964,” (co-authored with Earl Lewis) in Race and Ethnicity in America: A Concise History, ed. Ronald H. Bayor (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 167-192.
“Toward Essentialism, Toward Difference: Gino Speranza and Conceptions of Race and Italian-American Racial Identity, 1900-1925,” Mid-America 81 (Summer 1999): 169-213.
Awards: Guglielmo is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians, 2004;
Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize, Society of American Historians, 2001;
Horace H. Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award, University of Michigan, 2001;
Evans Prize (best dissertation of the year in history), University of Michigan, 2000;
Massaro Prize in History (best essay of the year), Italian Americana, 2000;
Distinction, Ph.D. Exam, Department of History, University of Michigan, 1998;
Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 2008-2009;
Fellowship, Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 2008-2009 (declined);
Fellowship, 2008 Festival of Ideas, Aspen Institute, Aspen, Colorado, July 2008;
Fellowship, Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University, 2005-2006;
Associate Fellowship, Michigan Society of Fellows, University of Michigan, 2000-2001;
Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, University of Michigan, 1999-2000;
Mellon Candidacy Fellowship, University of Michigan, 1998-1999;
Regents Fellowship, University of Michigan, 1996-1998.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 2002-2005; Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2001-2002.


Christmas Day, 1988. I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore in college. My sister, Jennifer—a history major at UW-Madison at the time (now a professor at Smith College) and the very best sibling anyone could ask for—had for several years been finding me all manner of cool reading material: a Barbara Kingsolver novel, a Mary Crow Dog memoir, an Alice Walker essay collection. This holiday she gave me a new book about the civil rights movement, Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters. It’d go on to win the Pulitzer Prize, among other big awards, but none of this I knew at the time. What I did know, what any reasonable person could see as I labored to unwrap the thing, was its formidable, thousand-plus-page size. For someone who, up to this point, had an on-again-off-again relationship with reading, the book scared the hell out of me.

Still, it must have been a slow winter break—few friends home from college or little good football on TV—because I would soon part those thousand-plus pages, discovering something profound in the process: I was engrossed. I devoured the book in a few days and then reread bits and pieces of it for weeks and months afterward. I returned to college that spring term and enrolled in my first U.S. history class and, soon, declared myself a history major. I read everything I could get my hands on about King and the movement. I even composed a related rap song, which my don’t-completely-humiliate-yourself instinct prevents me from sharing. Consider yourself fortunate. Really.

Of course, it’d take a longer essay to explain why my sister thought to buy me Branch’s book in the first place and why it—and other work on the black freedom struggle—spoke to me in such a profound way. But, when thinking about my journey to becoming an historian, that wonderful holiday gift from twenty-plus years ago proved huge (in every sense of the word).


By Thomas A. Guglielmo

  • The “new,” subtler forms of racism that social scientists and a few historians have seen as emerging in the 1960s and beyond as a response, in part, to civil rights movement successes had earlier roots. When Americans were fighting the Nazis and their racist regime, when scientific racism was on the defensive, and when civil rights activists tirelessly pressed both points, some whites and others formulated different, less essentialist defenses for race-based discrimination. Like those of the Red Cross and military leaders, these defenses were racist in one sense, by helping maintain a deeply unequal racial order, without appearing racist in another, by avoiding talk of races as fundamentally and immutably distinct. This point serves as a reminder that as wartime civil rights activism grew, the defenders of a white-supremacist status quo also mobilized—and innovated. — in “‘Red Cross, Double Cross’: Race and America’s World War II-Era Blood Donor Service,” Journal of American History 97 (June 2010): 66
  • White On Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945 JPG Immigrating to the United States, Italians, like all others arriving on America’s shores, were made to fill out a standardized immigration form. In the box for race, they faced several choices: Italian, Southern Italian, Mediterranean, or Silician. On the line requesting information on color, they wrote simply “”white.”” This identification had profound implications for Italians, as Thomas A. Guglielmo demonstrates in this prize- winning book. While many suffered from racial prejudice and discrimination, they were nonetheless viewed as white on arrival in the corridors of American power–from judges to journalists, from organized labor to politicians, from race scientists to realtors. Taking the mass Italian immigration of the late 19th century as his starting point, Guglielmo focuses on how perceptions of Italians’ race and color were shaped in one of America’s great centers of immigration and labor, Chicago. His account skillfully weaves the major events of Chicago immigrant history–the Chicago Color Riot of 1919, the rise of Italian organized crime, the rise of fascism, and the Italian-Ethiopian War of 1935-36–into the story of how Italians approached, learned, and lived race. By tracking their evolving position in the city’s racial hierarchy, Guglielmo reveals the impact of racial classification–both formal and social–on immigrants’ abilities to acquire homes and jobs, start families, and gain opportunities in America. Carefully drawing the distinction between race and color, Guglielmo argues that whiteness proved Italians’ most valuable asset for making it in America. Even so, Italians were reluctant to identify themselves explicitly as white until World War II. By separating examples of discrimination against Italians from the economic and social advantages they accrued from their acceptance as whites, Guglielmo counters the claims of many ethnic Americans that hard work alone enabled their extraordinary success, especially when compared to non-white groups whose upward mobility languished. A compelling story, White on Arrival contains profound implications for our understanding of race and ethnic acculturation in the United States, as well as of the rich and nuanced relationship between immigration and urban history. — About “White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945”

About Thomas A. Guglielmo

  • “An important advance in our understanding of the racial dynamics involving early twentieth-century immigrants. A major contribution that deserves to exercise a major influence on the discussion of race in the US.” — American Historical Review
  • “White on Arrival gets here right on time. As we increasingly require histories that speak to the ways race has been made both in the U.S. and beyond its borders, Guglielmo provides a meticulous local study aware of the international flows of migrants and ideas. As we urgently need mature historical accounts providing the historical context for debates over affirmative action and reparations, he carefully and compellingly shows how Italian Americans both felt the brutalities of race and benefitted from the privileges of whiteness.” — David Roediger, University of Illinois
  • “How did the ‘New Immigrants’ of the early twentieth century become the ‘White Ethnics’ of the postwar era? In this exhaustively researched study of one immigrant group’s encounter with race, Tom Guglielmo provides an unusual perspective on the everyday bases of racial identity, thinking, and behavior. He roots his discussion in the everyday lives of Italian immigrants and their neighbors and in the process illuminates the complex process by which Italians became ‘Americans’ in the racially-charged atmosphere of early twentieth century Chicago’s politics, labor relations, popular culture, and residential life. An outstanding social history, White on Arrival also speaks to cultural and intellectual historians concerned with the idea of race and its implications for the cultural lives of common Americans.” — James R. Barrett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • “Every time I think the ‘whiteness studies’ paradigm has crashed and burned, another careful innovative, illuminating study comes along to prove me wrong. Thomas Guglielmo’s White on Arrival is just such a study. It is a deeply researched, richly textured treatment of both sides of a complicated equation: the ways in which it mattered that ‘Italianness’ was conceived in biologized, ‘racial’ terms, and the ways in which it mattered (and continues to matter) that Italian immigrants and their American-born children nonetheless shared a safe haven of legal whiteness with a number of other ‘white’ groups on the scene.” — Matthew Frye Jacobson, Yale University
  • “In this original, provocative, and theoretically sophisticated study, Thomas Guglielmo offers us the first substantive, in-depth examination of Italian immigrants, racial categorization, and racial identity in early 20th century America. Grounding his arguments and findings in extensive primary research, he successfully refutes many of the premises and conclusions advanced by the ‘whiteness school,’ providing an alternative and often compelling narrative and methodology for exploring the history of immigration and race.” — Eric Arnesen, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • “During the 1990s, a variety of studies adopted the notion of south, central, and eastern European immigrants as ‘in-between people,’ who were neither fully black nor white, during their early encounter with industrial America. While such studies illuminated racial formation as a historical process, Professor Guglielmo convincingly argues that such studies often oversimplified the phenomenon. Based upon a broad range of archival sources and oral interviews with Italians in Chicago, Professor Guglielmo carefully documents the white skin privileges that Italians enjoyed from the outset of their sojourn on American soil.” — Joe W. Trotter, Carnegie Mellon University
  • “Great teacher! Class was interesting and material was very organized.”…
    “He is one of the nicest professors I have ever had. Incredibly approachable and eager to help students.”…
    “Great lecturer- so organized- one of the few classes I’ve taken where the time just seems to pass and I’ve learned a lot!” — Anonymous Former Students

Top Young Historians: 120 – Premilla Nadasen


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

120: Premilla Nadasen, 2-7-11


Teaching Position: Associate Professor, History Department, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center Doctoral Faculty
Area of Research: African-American history, social movements, poverty and social policy, history of welfare, domestic service work.
Education: Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University, Dissertation: “The Welfare Rights Movement, 1960-1975,” 1999 (nominated for the Bancroft Award)
Major Publications: Nadasen is the author of Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005), won the 2005 John HopePamilla Nadasen JPG Franklin Publication Prize awarded by the American Studies Association for best book in American studies.;
The Welfare Rights Movement: An Introduction
(forthcoming, Routledge 2011);
Welfare in the United States: A History with Documents, co-authored with Jennifer Mittelstadt and Marisa Chappell (Routledge 2009);
She is curently working on Domestic Workers Unite!: Household Workers’ Organizations in the Post-War U.S. ;
The Real Nanny Diaries: Narratives of Domestic Workers.
Nadasen is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:

“Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement: Black Feminism and the Struggle for Welfare Rights,” (Feminist Studies) won the 2002 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Article Prize; Reprinted in Women, Culture, and Society, ed. Barbara Balliet (Rutgers University Press, 2004, 2007);
and No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism ed. by Nancy Hewitt (Rutgers University Press, 2010).
“African American Domestic Workers and Politics of Citizenship” (forthcoming Journal of Policy History); Valuing Domestic Work, New Feminist Solutions Pamphlet, with Tiffany Williams, published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, Fall 2010;
“Tell Dem Slavery Done”: Domestic Workers United and Transnational Feminism, Scholar and Feminist Online (Barnard Center for Research on Women on-line journal) Spring 2010;
“Domestic Workers Take It To The Streets” Ms. Magazine, Fall 2009: 38-40. (Reprinted in Utne Reader, March-April 2010, “Meet the New Nanny”)
“International Feminism and Reproductive Labor” in Workers, the Nation-State and Beyond: Essays in Labor History Across the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2010);
“‘Mothers at Work’: The Welfare Rights Movement and Welfare Reform in the 1960s” in The Legal Tender of Gender: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Welfare Law, State Policies and the Regulation of Women’s Poverty, ed. Shelley Gavigan and Dorothy E. Chunn, (Hart Publishing, 2010);
“Power, Intimacy, and Contestation: Dorothy Bolden and Domestic Worker Organizing in Atlanta in the 1960s” in Intimate Labors, ed. Eileen Boris and Rhacel Parrenas (Stanford University Press, 2010)
“Is it Time to Jump Ship? Historians Rethink the Waves Metaphor” Kathleen Laughlin, Julie Gallagher, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen, Stephanie Gilmore, and Leandra Zarnow Feminist Formations, (vol 22, no. 1) (Summer 2010): 76-135;
“Sista’ Friends and Other Allies: Domestic Workers United” in New Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid, ed. Leith Mullings (Palgrave MacMillan 2009); “‘We Do Whatever Becomes Necessary: Johnnie Tillmon, Welfare Rights, and Black Power” in Want to Start a Revolution?: Women in the Black Revolt, ed. Jeanne Theoharis, Dayo Gore, and Komozi Woodard (NYU Press, 2009); “Domestic Workers Organize!” with Eileen Boris in Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society (December 2008); “‘Welfare’s A Green Problem’: Cross-Race Coalitions in the Welfare Rights Movement” in Feminist Coalitions, ed. Stephanie Gilmore (University of Illinois Press, 2008); “From Widow to ‘Welfare Queen’: Welfare and the Politics of Race” Black Women, Gender, and Families, Vol. 1 (2) (2007).
Awards: Nadasen is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Faculty Fellow, Center for Place, Culture and Politics, CUNY Graduate Center, 2010-2011;
PSC-CUNY Research Award, 2006-2010;
CUNY Diversity Projects Development Grant for “Maids and Madams: A Campus-Community Project on Domestic Service Work and Immigration” at Brooklyn College from the University Affirmative Action Committee, Spring 2007;
American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize for best book in American studies for Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (Routledge 2005), 2005;
Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians Award for best article in 2002 for “Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement” Feminist Studies (Summer 2002), 2002;
Fellowship to participate in Seminar on Human Security at the CUNY Graduate Center, Fall ’01- Spring ’02; CUNY Faculty Fellowship Publications Program, Spring 2002;
Queens College Presidential Research Award, Spring 2001;
PSC-CUNY Research Grants, 2006-2007, 1998-2001;
Aspen Institute Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Jan. – Oct. 1997;
Charles Gaius Bolin Fellow in History, Williams College, Williamstown, MA, 1995-1996;
Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation Research Grant, April 1995;
Columbia University Presidential Fellowship, 1991 – 1995;
Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, Summer Fellowship Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Summer 1991;
Hofstadter – Haynes Fellowship, Department of History, Columbia University, 1990 – 1991.
Additional Info:
Formerly Visiting Associate Professor, Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies, Brooklyn College. Nadasden is A longtime community activist and scholar. Nadasen has written for Feminist Studies, Ms. Magazine, the Women’s Review of Books, Race and Reason, and the Progressive Media Project, and has given numerous public talks about African-American women’s history and welfare policy.
Nadasen has been a contributing Writer, for Progressive Media Project, which distributes opinion editorials to McClatchy-Tribune newspapers across the country. Her articles have appeared in several newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Pueblo-Chieftan, The Sacramento Bee, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Watertown Daily Times, The Orlando Sentinal, La Prensa San Diego, Arizona Daily Star.


My commitment to telling poor black women’s stories came to me through activism. I vividly remember my first protest. I was at the Federal Building in downtown Detroit opposing U.S. foreign policy in South Africa. It was 1985 and I was 17 years old. The demonstration had all the key elements: colorful banners, repetitive chanting, fiery speeches, and passersby who either honked in support or jeered in disgust. My feelings vacillated between anxiety and excitement. I was born in South Africa. Although I came to the U.S. at a young age, when I returned periodically to visit family I experienced first-hand the reality of apartheid laws. As a teenager, the brutality of the apartheid regime that I read and heard about in combination with the burgeoning grass roots movement to dismantle it ignited my commitment to social justice. By participating in that protest I came to see the world in a new way-one that recognized how ordinary people contribute to social change.

When I went to the University of Michigan that fall, I joined the student anti-apartheid organization. As we-a diverse group of young women and men-immersed ourselves in political campaigns we talked and thought more deeply about patterns of racism not just in South Africa, but on the college campus and in our communities. One project we initiated was the Black Women’s Oral History Project where we interviewed long-time residents of Ann Arbor. It was from these rather remarkable women-whose names never appeared in my classroom textbooks-that I first learned about the welfare rights movement. I had taken several history and sociology courses about activism and the civil rights movement and was befuddled by the lack of discussion about these poor women on welfare who struggled for dignity and economic justice. In the 1960s, the women in Ann Arbor had collectively mobilized, along with thousands of women across the country, to protect their rights and fight for a better life for their children. I was deeply impressed by their fortitude and their wisdom. These early encounters fostered in me a commitment to pursue scholarly studies about the activism of poor women of color-a commitment that shapes my work even today as I research and write about domestic worker organizing.

Writing about the welfare rights movement taught me many things about scholarship and history. It taught me that intellectualism and theories of social change originate not only with the philosophers and those who sit in the offices of Ivy League institutions. The poor black women who led the welfare rights movement lived and understood racism and class oppression in a complex way. From these experiences, they theorized about gender and how it is informed by racial stereotypes and the welfare system. And they formulated a distinctive politics of empowerment that spoke to their particular location as poor black women. They have a lot to teach us about how power operates, methods of social change, and the meaning of feminism.

Studying this movement has also taught me that historical memory is deeply contested terrain. What we choose to remember-or not-is a reflection of our own values and beliefs. The marginalization of the welfare rights movement in historical scholarship is perhaps indicative of the way in which poor black women are marginalized in the political discourse today. So, for me, Welfare Warriors aimed to complicate the dominant narrative of the 1960s, but also to resurrect the muted voices of the period.


By Premilla Nadasen

  • By the 1960s the welfare system was dominated by myths and stereotypes. Perceptions about black women’s sexuality and notions of the black family and the black work ethic justified cutbacks in assistance and provided  grounds for work requirements. Ideology shaped public policy and, in this case, bolstered popular support for more punitive and repressive policies. Countering some of the stereotypes of AFDC, women in the welfare rights movement demanded that their work as mothers be recognized and insisted that single motherhood was not a social pathology. They sought to increase their monthly benefits through pressure tactics, and to make a moral claim for assistance as mothers. Their analysis demonstrates how gender is mediated by race and class and the way in which race, gender, and class all shape the welfare system. — Premilla Nadasen in “Welfare Warriors”

About Premilla Nadasen

Reviews for Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States

  • Nadasen has written the definitive history of the welfare rights movement that, for a brief moment, turned welfare into a program that helped rather than punished poor women. Carefully researched and fully documented, Welfare Warriors reveals the largely untold story of how poor and working class women came together to fight for a decent life. By exploring the working class black feminism that emerged, Nadasen’s account also broadens and deepens our understanding of feminism. –-Mimi Abramovitz, Professor of Social Policy at Hunter School of Social Work and the City University of New York Graduate Center and author of “Regulating the Lives of Women and Under Attack and Fight”
  • Armed with their own brand of feminism in the 1960s and 70s, Premilla Nadasen’s Welfare Warriors fought militantly and relentlessly against racism, sexism and dehumanizing poverty. They fought their battles in the halls of Congress, the streets of urban communities, and inside the progressive movement itself. Even when they were not victorious, these black women activists were never victims, but rather powerful, complex and committed agents for change. This compelling and compassionate study, meticulously researched and passionately argued, is a must-read for anyone interested in social change politics, feminism or the black freedom movement. –- Barbara Ransby, Professor of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.

Reviews for Welfare in the United States: A History with DocumentsWelfare in the United States A History with Documents, 1935–1996 JPG

  • “With wide ranging perspectives, nearly century-long coverage, and choice documents, this short but powerful collection shows why welfare remains one of the most contentious issues in public policy. Three cheers for Nadasen, Mittelstadt, and Chappell for this stimulating- and provocative – introduction that highlights the significance of race and gender in women’s lives.” -— Eileen Boris, author of “The New Women’s Labor History”
  • “The story of contemporary welfare policy in the United States is complicated and deeply troubled by poisonous conflicts over race, class and gender. Here, however, we have a telling of the story that is admirably clear and concise, and enlivened by the inclusion of the documents that mark and illuminate the turning points in the story. This will be an excellent teaching resource.” — Frances Fox Piven, author of “Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America”
  • “Dr. Nadasen, is one of the most influencial professors I have ever had the pleasure of being instructed by. Her knowledge of the History, Politics and social constructs are impecable. Her guidance in developing my MA Thesis was immensely useful in defining and enhancing the focus of my research project. She is certainly a mentor…”
    “African American history has become my favorite class this semester. Would recommend taking this class with Prof. Nadasen.”…
    “Outstanding teacher. Materials were relevant to all lectures. Allowed students to explore the subject of Slavery and was totally engaging.”…
    “You should take Prof. Nadasen because she’s so knowledgeable in history that it would absolutely rock your world.” — Anonymous Students

    More Information

  • Premilla Nadasen, First Women’s Studies Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College, To Be Honored on May 16

Top Young Historians: 119 – David Engerman


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

119: David Engerman, 11-28-10


Teaching Position: Professor of History, Brandeis University
Research Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, 2001-.
Area of Research: Russia in American life, including politics, culture, and foreign policy.
Education: Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley, 1998
Major Publications: Engerman is the author of Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts. Oxford University Press, 2009. Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development. Harvard University Press, 2003. Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations; Akira Iriye International History Book Award; One of best six books of the year in Eurasian Studies, Foreign Affairs; Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
David Engerman JPG Engerman is the co-editor and contributor of Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War. University of Massachusetts Press, 2003, and The God That Failed: Six Studies of Communism. Columbia University Press, 2001. (Wrote foreword).
Engerman is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“The Price of Success: Economic Development, Sovietology, and the Costs of Interdisciplinarity,” History of Political Economy 42 (forthcoming 2010); “Social Science in the Cold War,” Isis 101:2 (June 2010), 393-400; “Ideology and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1962,” for Cambridge History of the Cold War. Ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; “The Cold War,” for Companion to Russian and Soviet History. Ed. Abbott Gleason. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009; “Towards a Global History of Modernization,” Diplomatic History 33:3 (June 2009), 375-385; co-author with Corinna Unger. (Also co-editor of Forum in which this article appears.); “American Knowledge and Global Power,” Diplomatic History 31:4 (September 2007), 599-622; “How Harvard Ruled Russia,” Kritika 7:3 (Summer 2006), 689-702; “John Dewey and the Soviet Union: When Pragmatism Meets Revolution,” Modern Intellectual History 3:1 (April 2006), 33-63; “The Ironies of the Iron Curtain: The Cold War and the Development of Russian Studies in the United States,” Cahiers du Monde russe 45:3/4 (July/December 2004), 465-496, reprinted in The Humanities and the Dynamics of Inclusion, 1945-1985. Ed. David Hollinger. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006; “The Romance of Economic Development and New Histories of the Cold War,” Diplomatic History 28:1 (January 2004), 23-54; “Rethinking Cold War Universities,” Journal of Cold War Studies 5:3 (Summer 2003), 80-95. “Modernization from the Other Shore: American Observers and the Costs of Soviet Economic Development,” American Historical Review 105:2 (April 2000), 383-416, reprinted in Not Worthy: Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize. Ed. L. Luciuk. Toronto: Kashtan Press, 2004, translated and reprinted in 200 let rossiisko- amerikanskikh otnoshenii: nauka i obrazovanie. Ed. A.O. Chubar’ian and Blair Ruble. Moscow: OLMA, 2007, slated for reprint in Collective Degradation, ed. John Stauffer (Yale UP, in process)

Awards: Engerman is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2010);
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2006);
Named Stuart L. Bernath Lecturer, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (2005);
Outstanding Academic Title for 2004, Choice Magazine (2005);
Akira Iriye International History Book Award (2004);
Scholarly Fellowship, Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, (2004);
Research Grant, Rockefeller Archive Center (2004);
Scholarly Fellowship, Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History (2004);
Short-Term Research Scholarship, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (2004);
Stuart Bernath Book Prize, Soviety for Historians of American Foreign Relations (2004);
Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2003 – 2004);
Visiting Scholar, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (declined) (2003 – 2004);
Charles Warren Center Fellowship, Harvard University (2000 – 2001);
Research Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University (2000 – 2007);
Olin Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) (1999 – 2001);
Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship, Mellon Foundation (1997 – 1998);
John L. Simpson Fellowship in Comparative Studies, Institute for International Studies (1997 – 1998);
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, Berkeley Graduate Division (1997);
Winant Fellow, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library (1995);
Packard Fellow, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (1994).
Additional Info:
Formerly: Visiting Scholar, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, 2007-2008; Chair, Graduate Program in History, Brandeis University, 2001-2003, 2009-10; Chair, International and Global Studies Program, Brandeis University, 2005-2007; Assistant Professor of History, Brandeis University, 1999-2005; Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2003-2004; Fellow, Charles Warren Center for the Study of American History, Harvard University, 2000-2001; Lecturer in History, University of California-Berkeley, 1998-1999.


A bonus for historians studying the twentieth century is the chance to meet your historical subjects. I was lucky enough to meet George F. Kennan, a man who featured in both of my books.

I met Kennan as he approached his 97th birthday in winter 2001. I had been thinking a lot about him for the previous five years, ever since I had run across a 1932 memorandum by Kennan while reading through State Department microfilms in a desolate corner of the Berkeley library. Kennan’s memo must have arrived at State Department headquarters on a bad day for filing clerks. His astute analysis of the Soviets’ all-out push for industrialization was misfiled among travelers’ reports, an error that explained why this remarkable document had never been cited in the large scholarly output on Kennan.

Kennan’s memo contained a striking phrase: “the romance of economic development,” which, he had written, inspired Soviet youth “to ignore all other questions in favor of economic progress.” In language revealing as much about the writer as his subject, Kennan praised that romance for saving Soviet youth from the “curses of egotism, romanticism, daydreaming, introspection and perplexity” that befell their western counterparts. I loved Kennan’s elegant prose, and also the way his description fit western observers, not just Soviet youth. Some American observers explained away a famine by saying the USSR was “starving itself great”; others were so compelled by Soviet industrialization that they trotted out the old canard about breaking eggs to make an omelet.

As I began revising my dissertation into a book a few years later, I wrote Kennan, attaching a copy of his 1932 memo and asking if he remembered anything about the sources for his ideas. A speedy reply from his secretary implied that Kennan was unavailable to assist other scholars’ work while he had so many pressing projects of his own. The following year, I resent my inquiry through a colleague of Kennan’s who had offered to act as intermediary. Kennan’s urgent letter (and two phone messages) came just as quickly as his earlier rebuff. He wrote me that he had no recollection of the document (then nearly 70 years old), and then requested whatever contextual material I could provide. I worked up the nerve to ask if I might deliver the documents in person – and a week later I rang the doorbell at his stately but slightly run-down Princeton home. His physical frailty limited our time to an hour, but his intellectual acuity was very much present as we spoke about his training in Russian history and his experiences in the USSR. Kennan recounted the lessons he learned at the University of Berlin in 1929-31; his professors stressed study of the Realien of geography, national character, and national interests rather than epiphenomena like governments and ideologies. This helped me understand Kennan’s views of the USSR and of the world, and why he was, in his words, “an expatriate in his own time.” The conversation deepened my fascination with Kennan, a familiar enough infatuation among diplomatic historians. I overcame my awe just long enough to ask his wife to photograph us in our conversation.

I would have a chance to meet some of my other historical subjects, especially as I wrote about Kennan’s heirs, Soviet experts of the Cold War. These interviews were all fascinating. I learned about their scholarly inspirations, their political investigations, and their experiences visiting a country so different and distant from their own. I even learned about a number of romances and the scandals that often ensued – but none matched the opportunity to learn about the “romance of economic development” from the man who coined the phrase.


By David Engerman

  • The history of Soviet Studies offers contradictory lessons about the relationship between national security and intellectual life. The field was an intellectual success when government funds flowed because it attracted an Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts  JPG especially wide range of scholars and because its founders conceived of their aims very broadly. Scholars-cum- consultants innocently but fervently believed that the various parts of their job fit together seamlessly. They worked with government officials at the same time that they produced their own scholarship and trained their academic progeny. Seams strained and innocence ended in the 1960s, leading some later scholars to denigrate the field solely on the basis of its ties to government. Amid the dual crises of the late 1960s, pioneers … hoped to reinvigorate Soviet Studies by returning to interdisciplinary and applied research that had driven top-notch work in the field’s first decade. Yet the successes of Soviet Studies came thanks to unrepeatable historical circumstances: the intellectual mobilization during World War II, the postwar university boom, and the emergence of new sources of funding. These broad forces permitted Soviet Studies to serve both Mars and Minerva, or at least to try. There [is] no way … to go back to the future. There was no way, after the divisions of the 1960s, to recapture the innocence of the postwar years, the notion that government agencies could only support, not distort, intellectual life. Coming from the small and isolated policy-oriented sector of Soviet Studies, secretaries [Robert] Gates and [Condoleezza] Rice celebrated themselves in claiming that new [government] initiatives incorporated the lessons of Soviet Studies. But new enemies, in new times, require new solutions. — David Engerman in “Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts”
  • The specter of Soviet Communism haunting [the twentieth] century was as much a blueprint for rapid industrialization as an ideology of proletarian revolution, national liberation, or totalitarian control. At the same time, the Soviet specter often bore little resemblance to actually existing circumstances in the Soviet Union itself. In spite of the tremendous costs, including a catastrophic famine in 1932-1933, domestic and foreign commentators widely praised Soviet efforts at economic modernization, especially in the early years of the Five-Year Plans (1928-1937). What American diplomat George F. Kennan termed the “romance of economic development” captivated a wide range of foreign observers of all political persuasions. These interwar observers valued the fruits of rapid industrialization above its costs-even when these costs included not only repression and privation but also starvation. — David Engerman in “Modernization from the Other Shore: American Observers and the Costs of Soviet Economic Development,” AHR (2000).

About David Engerman

  • “The extraordinary range and depth of Engerman’s research and the narrative arc knitting this book together from start to finish make Know Your Enemy a consummate work of scholarship and historical imagination. Engerman’s critical assessment of all the diverse components within academic ‘Sovietology’ shatters one cliche after another. Soviet Studies never fashioned a single Cold War vision of the USSR and never served simply as an ideological arm of U.S. foreign policy-even when scholars were most closely linked with diplomatic and military operatives.” — Howard Brick, University of Michigan
  • “Those in and out of the field of Soviet Studies will find genuine revelations in Know Your Enemy . Engerman combines thorough research with a firm footing in the sociology of knowledge of the post-World War II world in this remarkable story of the U.S.’s most successful area studies enterprise. The author sensibly and dispassionately navigates the reader through the maelstrom of conflicts and controversies that beset the field and is practitioners from the Second World War until the fall of the Soviet Union.” — Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University
  • “Looking at both people and institutions, David Engerman has written the most complete and informative account of the rise and fall of Russian/Soviet studies. Sovietology arose out of world war and Cold War, but Engerman demonstrates that rather than simply ideologically driven, this scholarly field contained a variety of voices that contested with one another to influence colleagues, the government, and the public. The fate of the field, however, was intimately tied to the global conflict with America’s adversary, and when Soviet socialism collapsed, Sovietology disappeared along with it. Yet the contours of understanding a distant and little known rival continue to influence new generations still perplexed by that part of the world.” — Ronald Grigor Suny, author of The Soviet Experiment
  • “In his excellent history of Cold War Sovietology, which is solidly grounded in interviews and more than 100 archival collections, David Engerman has fashioned an important institutional and intellectual history of its academic dimensions. This clearly argued, fair-minded, and very illuminating volume reveals more interesting individuals and a more complicated story (as archives always do) than the oft repeated commonplaces about this history have revealed.”–Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History
  • “[D]eeply researched new book.” — Evan R. Goldstein, The Chronicle Review
  • “[E]ngrossing.” — Wall Street Journal
  • “[F]ascinating history.” — Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
  • “Deeply researched, well-written, this is an important chronicle that explains much about how government and academia still interact, and it should be read not just by Russophiles, but by anyone interested in new academic initiatives to focus on ‘Islamic Studies.’” — Paul E. Richardson, Russian Life
  • “Engerman is very passionate and energetic in the classroom, and very respectful of student ideas. His lesson plans are always innovative and intriguing, as well.”…
    “he’s so creative with his use of materials, like using music, video, photos in his lectures to get a deeper understanding of a time period than one can get from books alone. he looks at history as a set of paradoxes, very interesting way to think about it” – — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Top Young Historians: 118 – Jennifer Jensen Wallach


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

118: Jennifer Jensen Wallach, 11-14-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, University of North Texas, 2009-
Area of Research: African-American history, civil rights movement in Arkansas, African-American foodways I specialize in the history of African-Americans in the South since the Civil War. My specific areas of interest and expertise include southern autobiography, the life and times of Richard Wright, the civil rights movement in Arkansas, and American food history.
Education: Ph.D. Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, 2004
Major Publications: Jensen Wallach is the author of Richard Wright: From Black Boy to World Citizen, Ivan R. Dee Library of African-American Biography, John David Smith general editor 2010; Closer to the Truth than Any Fact:Jennifer Jensen Wallach JPG Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow, University of Georgia Press (Paperback edition released in 2010) 2008.
Jensen Wallach is the editor with John A. Kirk of Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, 1962-1967, University of Arkansas Press Expected publication Spring 2011.
Jensen Wallach is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Introduction,” Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class by Allison Davis, Burleigh Gardner, Mary Gardner, reprint for the Southern Classics Series, University of South Carolina Press, Mark M. Smith and Peggy G. Hargis general editors, 2009; “Replicating History in a Bad Way?: White Activists and Black Power in SNCC’s Arkansas Project” Arkansas Historical Quarterly Fall 2008; “Building a Bridge of Words: The Literary Autobiography as Historical Source Material” Biography Summer 2006; “Fawn Brodie and the Struggle for the Historical Memory of Thomas Jefferson” Clio’s Psyche, June 2006; “The Vindication of Fawn Brodie” The Massachusetts Review, Summer 2002
She has written reviews for the following scholarly journals: Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Reviews in American History, Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies, Journal of Social History, Journal of Southern History, Women’s Historical Review, Ethnic Studies Review.
Jensen Wallach is currently working on a book under contract, tentively entitled: The American Stomach: Foodways and Identity from the Colonial Era to the Present, Rowman Littlefield, Manuscript due Jan. 2012.
Awards: Jensen Wallach is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
UNT Junior Faculty Summer Research Fellowship 2010;
UNT Faculty Small Grant 2010;
Closer to the Truth than Any Fact named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2008;
Georgia College & State University, Faculty Research Grants, 2006, 2007, 2008;
American Association of University Women, American Dissertation Fellow, 2002-2003.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor of History Georgia College & State University, 2006-2009, and Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Stonehill College.

Personal Anecdote

“Dear Bill,

I have spent much of the holidays editing the memoirs and oral histories that will become a part of the forthcoming collection of material about the SNCC Arkansas Project. Given our space constraints, I have made suggestions about what material we might possibly be able to omit.

I have agonized over this process of editing. Although, it is necessary to shorten your piece-it need not be shortened in the way that I have suggested. If I have omitted something you think is vital, changed your meaning, or inadvertently altered your narrative style, please respond with a different suggestion about what should be excluded and included. The last thing I want to do is to impede your ability to tell your story in your own way…”

Being an historian sometimes means writing letters like this one. Those of us who work on twentieth century historical topics often have the privilege and the dilemma of writing the histories of individuals who are still living. Although the historian’s task is always accompanied by the grave responsibility of striving to be fair to one’s historical subjects, this duty takes on a different resonance when writing about historical moments that are very much still alive in the memories of the people who participated in them.

This past year, I have had the opportunity to work on one of the most important and one of the most difficult projects so far in my career. Along with John A. Kirk, I have had the privilege of compiling a book of materials about the activities of the 1960’s civil rights group the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Arkansas. Although much has been written about the activities of this organization elsewhere in the South (particularly in Mississippi), their work in Arkansas has been understudied if not nearly forgotten by historians of the movement. In order to begin to fill this gap in the literature, John and I put together a collection of articles by historians, primary documents, oral histories, and short memoirs written by members and supporters of SNCC in Arkansas.

I had the unenviable task of whittling down the contributions we solicited from SNCC participants into a size that could fit into the 300 page book envisioned by our sympathetic editor at the University of Arkansas Press. Perhaps more than at any other time in my career I felt a heightened awareness of the seriousness of the historian’s task. Collectively historians who document the civil rights struggle are striving to rescue worthy individuals from historical obscurity and challenge simplistic historical narratives of the past embraced by politicians and others to meet present day needs. This book is part of an attempt to wrest control of the legacy of the civil rights movement from those who would reduce that variegated grassroots struggle to a single, often misinterpreted speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963.

As important as this task was, I wondered if it was accompanied by a certain amount of hubris on my part. Who was I to strike out details and descriptions written by people who made the history that I was attempting to tell from the comfort of my living room? Who was I to say what should stay or what should go in the name of something as constructed and arbitrary as “space constraints”? In slashing passages and omitting specific memories, to what extent was I shaping this collection rather than allowing these history makers the opportunity to tell their own stories?

When I have these doubts and hesitations, I console myself with the idea that an inevitably imperfect retelling of the past is infinitely preferable to leaving these histories dormant and unknown. For me the process of historical interpretation is and must be a process of constant self-interrogation and continual reexamination of methods and motivations. For, as David Blight reminds us, our work has implications that go far beyond the so-called Ivory tower as we engage in the study “of contested truths, of moments, events, or even texts in history that thresh out rival versions of the past which are in turn put to battle in the present.”


By Jennifer Jensen Wallach

  • “[T]here are certain aspects of historical reality than can best be captured by artfully wrought literary memoirs. Skillful autobiographers are uniquely equipped to describe the entire universe as it appeared from an Closer to Truth Than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow JPG acknowledged perspective. Skillfully executed life writing has the ability to portray the complicated interplay between the thoughts and emotions of an historical actor. Furthermore, autobiographers intermingle historical data about what actually happened with reflections about what the author wishes had happened or imagined had happened. A full-fledged understanding of a particular historical moment must capture the complexities of the cognitive and the affective, the factual and the imaginary, perceptions and misperceptions. These elements are constitutive of a complex historical reality, which exists from the perspectives of the people who inhabited a past social world. The thought and feelings of historical agents are not responses to a preexisting social reality. Rather they are reality. If we are to come to a deep understanding of a historical moment, then we must endeavor to understand the individual experiences that constituted it….” — Jennifer Jensen Wallach in “Closer to Truth Than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow” (2008)

About Jennifer Jensen Wallach

  • Wallach’s biography of Richard Wright, to be published on the 50th anniversary of his death, gracefully traces and celebrates the writer™s rise from his hardscrabble Mississippi roots (unforgettably portrayed in Black Boy), his development of and dedication to his craft, and his physical and political peregrinations–to New York and left-wing circles, and later to Paris and the existentialists. Wallach’s book is thorough and almost pedagogical in its purposes; she excels at the lively anecdote and doesn™t shy away from her subject™s less savory aspects–his affairs and homophobia. But what™s absent is any trace of Wright™s voice as well as more perspective from his peers, readers, or critics to round out and provide depth and analysis to this study. This able biography summarizes where it should probe, and skates too smoothly over the conflicts and controversies that surrounded the man, who in his pursuit of freedom and unvarnished truth crossed racial lines, went into self-exile, and embraced the harshest social realism. — Publishers Weekly
  • “A quietly but uncommonly ambitious work . . . Wallach’s review of the theoretical literature on autobiography is refreshingly lucid and cogent. . . . I look forward to periodically rereading it and wrestling with its conclusions.” — W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Journal of American History
  • “Wallach’s lucidly written essay offers much food for thought, both for scholars of history and life writing and for general readers trying to recapture the flavor of the past.” — Jeremy Popkin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • “Historians and particularly history students will find many valuable insights in this book. Wallach lays out a theoretical framework for understanding memoirs as source material and then does an excellent job of putting that theory into practice.” — Steve Estes, author of I am a Man: Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement
  • “Wallach’s interdisciplinary training allows her to demonstrate how attention to language, symbolism, allegory, and other literary devices can uncover more historically relevant content in a memoir than a mere surface reading would allow. This is a well-written and well-argued response to a single question: How should historians handle literary memoirs as historical sources?” — Jennifer Ritterhouse, author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race

Posted on Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Top Young Historians: 117 – Steven Stoll


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

117: Steven Stoll, 10-31-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Visiting Associate Professor of History, Fordham University (2008-)
Area of Research: Environmental & agricultural history; geography, social ecology, and the political theory of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.
Education: Ph.D., Yale University, December 1994 (American History).
Dissertation: “The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Horticulture and the Industrial Countryside in California.” (Awarded Distinction).
Major Publications: Stoll is the author of The Great Delusion: A Mad Inventor, Death in the Tropics, and the Utopian Origins of Economic Growth (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008; paper edition, 2009); U.S. Environmentalism Since 1945, A Brief History with Documents (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, Bedford Series in History and Culture, 2006); Steven Stoll JPG Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2002; paper edition, 2003); The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside in California (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998).
Stoll is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Ground Truth: How Agriculture Shaped Society,” in The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History (Oxford University Press, submitted); “Pattern Recognition,” in Lapham’s Quarterly 1 (Summer 2008); “Farm Against Forest,” in Michael Lewis, ed., American Wilderness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); “The Smallholder’s Dilemma,” Journal of Technology and Culture 47 (October 2006); “Postmodern Farming, Quietly Flourishing,” The Chronicle Review of The Chronicle of Higher Education (cover story, June 21, 2002); “Insects and Institutions: University Science and the Fruit Business in California,” Agricultural History 69 (Spring 1995): 216-239.
Stoll has written reviews that have appeared in the following periodicals and scholarly journals:
American Historical Review, Environmental History, Harper’s, Journal of American History, Journal of Historical Geography, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Technology and Culture, Pacific Historical Review, The American Scientist, The Atlantic, William and Mary Quarterly.
Awards: Stoll is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Finalist: The Mark Lynton History Prize, awarded by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard. Jurors David A. Bell, Michael Kazin, and Roy Rosenzweig chose Larding the Lean Earth as one of two finalists out of 229 entries. March 2003.
The Heyman Prize, for an outstanding manuscript on any subject in the humanities, for The Fruits of Natural Advantage, Yale University, July 1998.
W. Turrentine Jackson Award, presented by the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch “to the author of the most outstanding dissertation on any aspect of the history of the American West in the twentieth century,” August 1995.
Phi Alpha Theta/Westerners International Award for the best doctoral dissertation in western history, August 1995.
Frederick W. Beinecke Prize, awarded by the Graduate School at Yale University “for an outstanding doctoral dissertation in the field of Western American History,” May 1995.
Additional Info:
Formerly Senior Fellow, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis (2007-2008);
Associate Professor of History, Yale University (2002-2007);
Assistant Professor of History, Yale University (1996-2002);
Lecturer in History (full-time), Yale University (1994-96).
Stoll was a member of a panel of historians chosen to create “California: A Thematic History.” KCET, Los Angeles. Worked with the script writer and consulted on the project’s grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities (2001).

Personal Anecdote

I study the ways people think about resources, capital, and how what we call The Economy functions within the larger economy of Earth. I call myself an environmental historian, but my work is related to geography, social ecology, and the political theory of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Most of my work concerns agrarian society in the United States because I have found that agriculture offers the ideal vantage from which to observe the intersection of ideas and practices, economies and landscapes. Students and friends sometimes ask me why I think about these things and when I started. If I had to nail down an early influence without which I might be doing something else with my time, I would blame everything on a childhood spent roaming around the Long Beach Harbor. My dad had a marine supply store in the Harbor, and he gave me more liberty in that marginal landscape than perhaps he should have. I dodged the trucks crossing Anaheim Street in order to climb into boxcars on the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad. I trespassed to peer into the weird churning of oil refineries. A netherworld stretched out behind the store into a forlorn industrial landscape–burning vapors from flame-tipped towers, makeshift slaughterhouses, giant piles of yellow sulfur, feral dogs, weedy lots piled with rusted chain link each the size of economy cars. There were also broken, rootless men who showed up looking for work after getting out of jail–once in the Navy, once a longshoreman, once a foreman in the tuna canneries. When Southern California boomed in the 1980s, the Harbor remained underdeveloped as a mirror image of the wealth it made possible for others, a kind of third world of unpaved streets and unsolved murders. The Harbor showed me the underside of “progress” before I knew anything about economic growth or capitalism. It gave me so much to think about because none of its pieces fit together in my mind. I started writing about agriculture after feeling puzzled by another forlorn industrial landscape, another location of furious capitalist activity and environmental sacrifice–the San Joaquin Valley of California–subject of my dissertation and first book.

I am still trying to understand what we mean when we talk about progress and what progress has to do with the way people live around the world. I noticed that English speakers, in particular, have vague and negative words for grow their own food. We call them subsistence farmers, people who practice slash and burn cultivation, use with primitive tools, and live in economic isolation. I became curious. The book I’m working on, Outliers and Savages is a history of the agrarian household, defined as any group of related people who live under the same roof, work together, and eat from the same pot. Feudal lords, nation-states, and multinational corporations have tried to extort from the household, manipulate it, tax it, or destroy it. I want to know when and where it thrived, how it has survived, and why we should care. The Southern Mountains of the United States between the 1790s and the 1930s forms the book’s principle historical subject in an overall narrative that places the backwoods of western Pennsylvania and the hollows of West Virginia in a world context. By considering smallholders in Appalachia, Haiti, and Mexico, I hope to present the likeness between the distillers who resisted the Whiskey Tax in 1794 and the campesinos who protested NAFTA in 1994. In both cases agrarians complained that policies intended to coerce them into more encompassing market relations undermined their ability to endure as households.


By Steven Stoll

  • “Things came together. An older metaphysical progress married a burgeoning productive capacity, creating a powerful ideology of growth—driven by the myth of human perfection and grounded in the precise observation of The Great Delusion JPG economic reality. [John Adolphus] Etzler is a nexus for the complex of ideas that boiled and simmered into a full- fledged conception of material progress … There is something deeply pragmatic about Etzler’s schemes and something fundamentally utopian about economic growth, and vice versa. They share the same qualities, and Etzler illuminates them and almost every important materialist idea during the time in which he lived … For as much as we tend to dismiss utopia for the way it wishes away greed and poverty, we would do well to consider the ways that the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mall of America, and the Williams-Sonoma catalog partake of the very same expectations of salvation. What happens when we read plenty into environments that have the same kinds of limits our own bodies do? What does it mean that wealth in capitalist societies must be thought of as endless if the system is to avoid contradictions that might destroy it? What was Etzler trying to create with the Satellite and a colony in Venezuela that shows us a picture of ourselves?” — Steven Stoll in “The Great Delusion: A Mad Inventor, Death in the Tropics, and the Utopian Origins of Economic Growth” (2008)
  • “In the logic of economic development, land that feeds people is underemployed, freeholder sufficiency is poverty, and independence from wage work is backwardness. People once called isolated and unproductive now starve from being integrated and unemployed. They starve, in other words, from the very dependency that represents their modernity. These millions of Haitians-the great-great-grandchildren of the slaves who instructed the luminaries of the European Enlightenment on the meaning of liberty, the great-grandchildren of the proud smallholders whose cassava and dasheen gave material meaning to that freedom-grind earth between their teeth….
    Capitalists have hated the agrarian household since the seventeenth century, calling its members savages, outliers, slackers and draggers, backward and degenerate, and wasteful of land and labor-at best curiosities, at worst forest- or mountain-dwelling insurgents without political allegiances or ties to centralized authority. The agrarian household so perplexed and infuriated its critics because it seemed to deny historical progress. It was not in a process of becoming something else. Rethinking our assumptions about development, and allowing subsistence cultures to produce for exchange on their own terms, would give Haiti a chance to recover the best part of its history and to stun the world again with the genius of its freedom. — Steven Stoll in “Toward A Second Hatian Revolution,” Harper’s Magazine (April 2010)
  • “Did boom years on Wall Street deliver the kind of growth that improves health, prolongs life, and makes people happier? The gross domestic product certainly increased, with sharp gains in those places burgeoning with construction jobs and property taxes. GDP, however, does not measure things like the loss of natural capital; neither does it measure human misery. The use of credit as a source of economic growth generates phantom prosperity with incomprehensible social costs. I find myself agreeing with the free-market economist George Reisman, once a student of Ludwig von Mises and a friend of Ayn Rand. Writing earlier this year, Reisman, an emeritus professor of economics at Pepperdine University, noted: “The truth is that credit expansion is responsible not only for the boom- bust cycle but also … sharply increased economic inequality, in which the wealthier strata of the population appear to increase their wealth dramatically relative to the rest of the population and for no good reason.” Companies crave credit expansion because it elevates their stock prices, giving them money for nothing. From the point of view of the aggregated goods and services that we call the economy, money for nothing does nothing. Profit-taking is not the outcome of selling things, making things, or employing people. Profits from mortgages traded on credit-correlation markets do not end up in blue-collar paychecks and then at the supermarket. Even worse, credit expansion has enticed Americans to mine their homes instead of demanding higher wages. In a self-serving scheme that would be unbelievable if it were not real, many companies pay their employees in company stock. Rather than compensate secretaries and sales representatives out of profits, executives substitute a utopian promise of future riches – fictitious money. In some companies, those securities have genuine value, but in example after example workers have been coaxed and manipulated into forfeiting their earnings.” — Steven Stoll “Wall Street’s Delusions,” Chronical of Higher Eduation (October 3, 2008)

About Steven Stoll

  • “An odd and intriguing chunk of history that helps us understand where our great ideé fixe—endless growth—came from. When you consider what a weird idea it actually is, and how central to our intellectual universe, it’s well worth trying to figure out how we first fell under this fancy.” — Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
  • “Stoll’s brilliant exhumation of the life of Etzler—Frankenstein-like inventor and Hegelian con man—confronts us with the lunatic-utopian origins of our civilization’s most profound (and suicidal) desire: the infinite consumption of nature.” — Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
  • “This is a hot little book, hot in moral intensity, hot in probable consequences, and hot to handle. It will dismay some, infuriate others, and invite thinking by anyone who regards ours as the responsible species. We have memory and anticipation. Stoll wants us to observe, anticipate, and act. A stirring and eloquent piece of work.” — Roger Kennedy, Director Emeritus, the National Museum of American History
  • “Enthrallment with growth has brought us to a perilous state environmentally. The world economy is so large that its impacts are disrupting the planetary systems that make life on earth possible, and yet economic activity is on track to double in size in less than two decades. Stoll’s insightful book on the utopian origins of our growth fetish could not be more timely. It raises difficult issues about the balance of economy and ecology that must soon be faced.” — Gus Speth, Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy, Yale University
  • “Steven Stoll presents the technologically utopian zeitgeist of our time in biographical preview—the fascinating story of a possessed nineteenth-century German engineer named John Adolphus Etzler. It is a cautionary and instructive story.” — Herman E. Daly, Professor, School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland
  • “The lesson Stoll wants us to learn from the mad inventor’s biography is clear: Despite our optimism that we can harness all the energy necessary to increase production, we cannot fool Mother Nature.” — Paul Davidson, The New Leader
  • A significant work that uses the life of 19th-century explorer and inventor John Etzler to dissect the fallacies of the global mantra for continuous economic growth…. Distilling complex ideas in lucid, easily accessible prose, Stoll (History/Rutgers Univ.; Larding the Lean Earth, 2002, etc.) explains how his zealous protagonist, who believed the earth could support a population of one trillion people, was shaped by the Young Hegelian materialist theories of his era. Born in central Germany in 1791, Etzler promised his followers lifelong ease and abundance based on limitless natural resources. Modern consumers, too, believe that the energy powering their iPods, cars and leaf-blowers will always exist, notes Stoll. But in a time of rapidly rising gas prices and melting tundras, his timely and immensely readable book asks whether unfettered consumption can continue in a world with scarce resources. The author convincingly argues that modern economic theory, with its belief that growth equals progress, is derived from the same materialist currents that inspired Etzler. He takes as a metaphor Etzler’s bizarre invention, a massive, lumbering, do-anything machine called the Satellite, powered by wind, water, a pivot and ropes. The Satellite never worked, because Etzler ignored entropy; energy seeped away as useless heat (caused by friction over long ropes) and could never be recaptured. Stoll contends that the law of entropy, which establishes that natural energy resources are finite and unrecoverable, has also been willfully ignored by growth-focused economists. Unless consumerism is curtailed to a rate that allows the earth to replenish itself, and manufacturing becomes environmentally benign, he predicts that major crises will occur. In the 1840s, Etzler led a group of English emigrants to Venezuela, promising them a tropical paradise without limits on natural bounty, but delivering only destitution and death. Ideas influence behavior, Stoll reminds us, and Etzler’s life has a clear message for us today: “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”… An erudite, entertaining historical deconstruction of the modern economic world. — Kirkus Reviews for “THE GREAT DELUSION: A Mad Inventor, Death in the Tropics, and the Utopian Origins of Economic Growth”

Posted on Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 7:33 PM

Top Young Historians: 116 – Brian DeLay, 38


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

116: Brian DeLay, 10-24-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, 2010-Present
Area of Research: US and the World; 19th-century Americas; transnational history; US-Mexico Borderlands; native peoples; the international arms trade
Education: Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March, 2004
Major Publications: DeLay is the author of War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008 [paperback, 2009].Brian Delay JPG

Delay is the co-author with James West Davidson, William E. Gienapp, Christine Leigh Heyrman, Mark H. Lytle, and Michael B. Stoff, Experience History: Interpreting America’s Past [Formerly Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic], McGraw-Hill (2010). Concise Edition: US/A History (2009).
DeLay is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Independent Indians and the U.S.-Mexican War,” American Historical Review 112 (Feb., 2007), 35-68; “The Wider World of the Handsome Man: Southern Plains Indians Invade Mexico, 1830-1846,” Journal of the Early Republic 27 (March, 2007), 83-113.
Delay is currently working on the following projects: “Shoot the State: The Arms Trade and the Re-creation of the Americas, 1750-1900,” Book-length study in early development; “Blood Talk: The Structure of Violence in Borderland New Mexico,” chapter in revision for Edward Countryman and Juliana Barr, eds., Contested Spaces of Early America, edited collection in progress;
“Comanches in the Cast: Remembering Mexico’s ‘Eminently National War,’” essay accepted for Charles Faulhaber, ed., The Bancroft Library at 150: A Sesquicentennial Symposium, edited collection in progress;
“Barbarians and Dearer Enemies: Frontier Wars and Federalist Uprisings in Northern Mexico, 1837-1840,” chapter accepted by Erick D. Langer, ed., for “Indians, the State, and the Frontier in Nineteenth-Century Latin America,” edited collection in progress;
“Opportunity Costs: Comanches between Texas and Mexico, 1836-1846,” chapter accepted by Andrew Frank and Glen Crothers for edited collection on North American borderlands, in progress.
Awards: DeLay is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Bryce Wood Book Award for the outstanding book on Latin America in the social sciences and humanities published in English, Latin American Studies Association, 2010;
W. Turrentine Jackson (biennial) Award for best first book on any aspect of the history of the American West, Western History Association, 2009;
Robert M. Utley Award for best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America, Western History Association, 2009;
Southwest Book Award, sponsored by the Border Regional Library Association, 2009;
James Broussard Best 1st book prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2008;
Norris and Carol Hundley Best Book Award, Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, 2008;
The Sons of the Republic of Texas Summerfield G. Roberts Best Book Award, 2008;
Finalist, Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, 2008;
Finalist for the Clements Prize for the Best Nonfiction Book on Southwestern Americana, 2008;
Honorable Mention, Texas State Historical Association’s Kate Broocks Bates Award for Historical Research, 2008;
Finalist for the PROSE Award in the U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography category, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, 2008;
Appointed an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2008-2011;
Bolton-Cutter Award for best borderlands article, Western History Association, 2008;
Robert F. Heizer Prize for the best article in the field of ethnohistory, 2008;
CLAH Article Prize, Conference on Latin American History, 2008;
Stuart Bernath Article Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2008;
Phi Alpha Theta/Westerners International Prize for Best Dissertation, 2005;
Harold K. Gross Prize from Harvard University for the dissertation “demonstrating the greatest promise of a distinguished career in historical research,” 2004;
University of Colorado Residence Life Academic Teaching Award, 2005.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2009 – Spring 2010; Assistant Professor of History, University of Colorado, Boulder, Fall 2004 – Spring 2009.
DeLay’s articles have appeared in The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, The Journal of the Early Republic, Diplomatic History, New Mexico Historical Review, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and The Chronicle Review.

Personal Anecdote

I would’ve been more cooperative if I’d realized that the guy in the front of the bus had a gun. But bemused cluelessness had served me fairly well during other hairy moments in Mexico City, so when a skinny, nervous teenager strode up and told me to take off my seatbelt I just sat there. “No hablo español” I muttered, hoping he’d leave me alone. He shook his head and kept going, working his way up the aisle and talking quickly to each passenger in turn. Clicking noises followed his progress like a chorus. Everyone else on the still-speeding Mexico City-Puebla bus took off their seatbelts. Weird. Don’t look interested, I told myself. Maybe it’s some sort of perverse anti-safety campaign? Then I noticed that the burly guy in the front of the bus was waving something small and black in the air. He shouted incomprehensibly, but everyone else must have understood because all at once they bent down and buried their faces in their hands. Okay, bad sign. The teenager began making his way back down the aisle, holding something (a bag?). I kept staring at my book, determined to stay in clueless character. He paused for a moment when he reached my seat and then hit me across the face, sending my glasses skittering across the floorboards. “Take your [colorful Spanish adjective] seatbelt off and cover your eyes, you stupid [colorful Spanish noun].” Oh, I thought. That’s what’s happening.

In retrospect getting robbed that day was a pretty tame brush with danger, especially compared to some of my friends’ stories. Whenever I’ve recounted it, it’s always come out as (light) dark comedy. But the truth is that those guys scared the hell out of me and most everyone else on the bus. I vividly remember the sound of my heart beating in my ears; the older lady across from me whose hands shook as she removed her earrings, and the relief, tears, and outrage on board once the thieves jumped off.

That experience, along with a handful of other frightening but ultimately harmless situations on this and later research trips, left me with a valuable gift: a little taste of fear, helplessness, and vulnerability. I’d come to Mexico to study interethnic violence in the north of the country in the decades before the U.S.-Mexican War. Sometimes this violence unfolded in matched battles between groups of fighters. More often it involved armed, mounted men launching surprise attacks on isolated groups of families. Thousands of children, women, and men died in these attacks, and thousands more lost their daughters and sons, their parents, their siblings and neighbors, and some or all of their meager possessions. The grief, terror, desperation, and heartbreak these thousands of people experienced, what did I know about that? Virtually nothing. But that seemed just slightly better than absolutely nothing. I don’t know if my own miniscule brushes with danger helped me write about these people with more sensitivity, empathy, or nuance. But they definitely made me want to.


By Brian DeLay

  • In miniature, the story goes like this. In the early 1830s, for a variety of reasons, Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, Navajos, and others abandoned imperfect but workable peace agreements they had maintained with northern War of a Thousand Deserts Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War  JPG Mexicans since the late eighteenth century. Men from these Indian communities began attacking Mexican ranches and towns, killing and capturing the people they found there and stealing or destroying the Mexicans’ animals and property. When able, Mexicans responded by doing the same to their indigenous enemies. The conflicts intensified through the 1830s and 1840s, until much of the northern third of Mexico had been transformed into a vast theater of hatred, terror, and staggering loss for independent Indians and Mexicans alike. By the eve of the U.S. invasion these varied conflicts spanned all or parts of ten states. They had claimed thousands of Mexican and Indian lives, made tens of thousands more painful and often wretched, ruined northern Mexico’s economy, stalled its demographic growth, and depopulated much of its countryside. The consequences were far-reaching. I argue that the bloody interethnic violence that preceded and continued throughout the U.S.-Mexican War influenced the course and outcome of that war and, by extension, helped precipitate its manifold long-term consequences for all the continent’s peoples — Brian Delay in “War of a Thousand Deserts Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War”
  • KERA radio interview on War of a Thousand Deserts, Dec. 1, 2008 mp3

About Brian DeLay

  • “Action-packed and densely argued.” — Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books
  • “Brian DeLay is one of the most articulate and original authors writing in the Western Americana field today.” — Howard R. Lamar, author of The New Encyclopedia of the American West
  • “With a good sense of drama and narrative, DeLay tells the story of how the interactions and preconceptions of Mexicans, Americans, and independent Indian tribes shaped the borderland region in ways none of the parties expected. This book will force many readers to rethink their basic assumptions about Indians as nineteenth- century political actors. This is not just the most significant work on the U.S.-Mexico War to appear in a generation, but a study with wide-ranging implications for the history of North America. Brian DeLay shows how enlightening transnational history can be when done well.” — Amy S. Greenberg, The Pennsylvania State University
  • “In supple prose, DeLay analyzes the interactions in the years leading up to the war among three ‘nations’—the struggling new Mexican republic, the confident and opportunistic (but also relatively new) U.S., and the older, highly dynamic peoples of indigenous America—as well as among the compellingly depicted individuals and groups that composed them.” — Margaret Chowning, University of California at Berkeley
  • “DeLay’s War of a Thousand Deserts begins with a long-neglected question: what role did Indian Nations of the Southern Plains—Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches—play in the era of the U.S.-Mexican War? His answers sweep across the borderlands in stories of violence, trauma, and the devastating cultural effects of endemic warfare on indigenous and Mexican peoples alike. A tireless researcher and gifted writer has given us a necessary, if profoundly disturbing, look at the history of our American West.” — James F. Brooks, author of Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands
  • “Brian DeLay’s compelling and well-documented narrative of a little-known subject—Indian raids into northern Mexico—offers new insights on the impact of those attacks on the affected countries and peoples.” — Pedro Santoni, author of Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848
  • “In War of a Thousand Deserts, Brian DeLay tells the fascinating—and long-forgotten—story of the savage, interethnic conflict between independent tribes, Mexicans, Texans and norteamericanos. . . . [DeLay] is an imaginative and resourceful researcher. . . . Drawing on contemporary accounts by Mexicans and Texans, DeLay provides a sophisticated, speculative, and controversial account of the motivations of Indians.” — Glenn Altschuler, Tulsa World
  • “[A] masterful exercise in the reading of a broad range of primary sources to which historians have previously paid scant attention. DeLay tells a fascinating story that will reshape how historians understand and explain the coming of the U.S.-Mexican War and its aftermath.” — Jesús F. de la Teja, Great Plains Quarterly
  • “Brian DeLay offers an important reassessment of not only the U.S.-Mexican war but also the history of American expansion more broadly. . . . DeLay’s War of a Thousand Deserts beautifully narrates the under-told tale of how Native Americans powerfully determined the history of U.S. expansion into Mexico.” — Ned Blackhawk, The Journal of Military History
  • Over all, [War of a Thousand Deserts] provides a most satisfying, interesting narrative without sacrificing critical assessment or theoretical considerations.” — F. Arturo Rosales, Montana the Magazine of Western History
  • “Meticulously researched, the book shows that the impact of Native American activities in the region was stronger and had more lasting consequences than did the activities of Spaniards, Mexicans, or Americans.” — J. A. Stuntz, Choice
  • “This insightful and gracefully written study casts fresh light on an important and much studied era in southwestern borderland history.” — Bruce Dinges
  • “In this provocative and ambitious book, DeLay situates southern plains peoples at the very center of the geopolitical transformation of North America in the mid-nineteenth century. . . . Offering dates, locations, and demographic data on participants and victims that he culled from Mexican sources, [War of a Thousand Deserts] is a variable treasure trove for future scholars.” — Amanda Taylor-Montoya, Common-Place
  • “This remarkable work fills an important gap in American historiography. . . . This brilliant work will certainly please the scholarly reader. . . . DeLay’s superb scholarship has culminated in a nuanced yet lucid narrative that will doubtless become a required reference for U.S., Mexico, Native American, and Borderlands scholars for a long time.” — Joaquin Rivaya-Martinez, Southwestern History Quarterly
  • “The author . . . has discovered a significant but overlooked phenomenon in front of and behind the U.S. Mexican War. . . . This is a superb contribution to the history of America’s expansionist era.” — DLW, Roundup Magazine
  • “This innovative political history presents a compelling interpretative framework for the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848.” — Cynthia Radding, American Historical Review

Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Top Young Historians: 115 – Malinda Maynor Lowery, 38


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

115: Malinda Maynor Lowery, 8-9-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, July, 2009-present.
Area of Research: Native American history, Southern history, 19th and 20th century U.S. History
Education: Ph.D., History, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, May, 2005.
Dissertation: “Native American Identity in the Segregated South: The Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina, 1872-1956.”
Major Publications: Lowery is the author of Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, March 2010. Malinda Maynor Lowery JPG Lowery is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Telling Our Own Stories: Writing Lumbee History In the Shadow of the BAR,” American Indian Quarterly 33 (Fall 2009): 499-522; “Indians, Southerners, and Americans: Race, Tribe, and Nation During Jim Crow,” James A. Hutchins Lecture at UNC- Chapel Hill, 26 February 2009, Native South 2 (2009): 1-22; “Practicing Sovereignty: Lumbee Identity, Tribal Factionalism, and Federal Recognition, 1932-1934.” Foundations of First Peoples’ Sovereignty: History, Culture and Education. Edited by Ulrike Wiethaus. New York: Peter Lang, 2008. 57-95; “Finding Wisdom in Places: Lumbee Family History.” Indigenous Diasporas: Unsettling Western Fixations. Edited by Graham Harvey and Charles D. Thompson. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Press, 2005. 153-68; “People and Place: Croatan Indians in Jim Crow Georgia, 1890-1920.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 21 (Spring 2005): 37-64; “Making Christianity Sing: The Origins and Experience of Lumbee Indian and African-American Church Music.” Confounding the Color Line: Indian-Black Relations in a Multidisciplinary Perspective. Edited by James Brooks. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. 321-45; “Indians Got Rhythm, Too: Lumbee Indian and African-American Church Music.” North Dakota Quarterly 67 (Summer/Fall 2000): 72-91; “The Cowboys Always Win: The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.” History in Dispute, Vol. III: American Social and Political Movements, 1900-1945: Pursuit of Progress. Edited by Robert J. Allison. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 142-6.
Filmography: Co-Producer, In the Light of Reverence – Video, 73 minutes (2001) National Broadcast: P.O.V., Public Broadcasting Service, August 14, 2001: Awarded Henry Hampton Award for Social Change Documentary; Best Documentary Feature, American Indian Film Festival; Eagle Award, Taos Talking Picture Film Festival; CINE Golden Eagle; Jury Award, MountainFilm
Producer/Director/Editor, Sounds of Faith – Video, 14 minutes (1997): Screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Smithsonian Institution, New York Native American Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival
Producer/Director/Editor, Real Indian – 16mm, 7 minutes (1996): Awarded Best Short Documentary, South by Southwest Film Festival; Best Indian-Produced Short Documentary, Red Earth Film Festival. Screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Women in the Director’s Chair Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival
Awards: Lowery is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Center for Public Service Engaged Faculty Fellowship, UNC-Chapel Hill, for over two years to incorporate community engagement into scholarship;
Uelstchi Service-Learning Course Development Grant, UNC-Chapel Hill, for over three years for Lumbee History course;
Junior Faculty Research Development Grant, UNC-Chapel Hill, Spring 2010;
Lenovo Instructional Innovation Grant, Center for Faculty Excellence, UNC-Chapel Hill, Digitization of Southern Historical Association Documents, Fall 2009;
Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Center for the Study of the American South, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2008-2009;
Role Model of the Year, Native Americans at Harvard College, April, 2007;
Stanford University Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee, 2006;
Clark Fund Research Award, Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2006;
Ford Foundation, Dissertation Fellowship, 2004-2005;
Archie K. Davis Fellowship, Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina, January-May, 2004;
Johnson Center for Undergraduate Excellence Intellectual Life Grant, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2002;
Southern Research Circle Summer Stipend, Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina, May 2001;
Rockefeller Foundation, Film/Video/Multimedia Fellowship, 2001-2002;
Royster Society Fellowship, The Graduate School, University of North Carolina, 2000-2005;
Multicultural Producer Scholarship, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 1998-1999;
Native Initiative Fellowship, Sundance Institute, 1998;
Folklife Documentary Grant, North Carolina Arts Council, 1997;
Younger Scholar Summer Research Award, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1994;
Research Fellowship, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 1993.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, Harvard University. July, 2005-June, 2009;
Adjunct Faculty, Department of History, North Carolina State University. January-May 2005;
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University. January-May 2002;
Lecturer, Department of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University. January 1997-December 1998.
Lowery has a master’s degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University and has produced three documentary films about Native American issues, including the award-winning “In the Light of Reverence” (2001), which showed on PBS in 2001 to over three million people. Her two previous films, “Real Indian” (1996) and “Sounds of Faith (1997),” both concern Lumbee identity and culture.

Personal Anecdote

LUMBEE INDIANS IN THE JIM CROW SOUTH has been living with me for over fifteen years, since I first wrote my undergraduate thesis on Henry Berry Lowrie, an important Recomstruction-era figure in Lumbee history. After that I took a big break from history to become a documentary film producer, but film only intensified my desires to use academic history as a storytelling medium that transcends the boundaries between the academy and the community. When I went back to get my PhD, I remained involved in documentary film, became a part-time theater producer, and began to think visually about historical storytelling, both in terms of narrative as well as argument. Oral tradition and artistic production, of course, has always been a tremendous part of Lumbee culture, so I could not ignore that, especially since I was writing about a relatively recent time period and many people who remember the people and events are still living. There were also plenty of compelling photographs, taken by both insiders and outsiders, that prompted fundamental questions about the documentary record. As I revised my dissertation into a book, I felt comfortable taking a few risks with voice and images to explicate questions of interest to academic historians but also to animate the narrative and give readers an insider look at the Lumbees.

I am extremely grateful to all my mentors, in filmmaking, in graduate school, at UNC Press, and at the First Peoples/New Directions publishing initiative for encouraging me on this path. But I have to give my greatest thanks to my family. Like my sister says, “the woman who taught me to read is a dangerous woman!” My mother, an English professor who taught everything from freshman composition to advanced grammar to world lit, taught me to read and remains my first and best writing teacher. My father, political radical in his own way (he would say “because I didn’t know any better”), has always nurtured my iconoclastic tendencies while giving me a hefty dose of “respect your elders” training. Finally, my husband is a brilliant Lumbee musician and artist who lacks a formal education. He is not only a moral compass in my responsibilities to my community, but he gives me vital inspiration every day. He once said something which has become a kind of mantra for me in explaining Native attitudes towards history. A student interviewing him asked, “how did you learn Lumbee history?” He simply said, “I lived it.”

The relevance of history to contemporary life is immediately obvious in the Lumbee case, since the categories of knowledge scholars have used to describe us have often been inadequate at best, and damaging at worst. For example, our 122-year struggle for federal recognition, and the political factionalism it has engendered, has been one of the layers of our identity but it is not the only facet of it. Some believe (and many scholars promote this idea) that Lumbee recognition is a struggle for identity, as if we don’t know or don’t understand our identities as an Indigenous People. This argument stems from a recognition of the several times our People have been subject to legislation which alters our tribal name. My book argues that this legislation, and the whole debate about the definition of “Indian,” was motivated by the prerogatives of white supremacy and Indians’ ambivalent relationship to it. But scholars (and more importantly, policy makers) have not looked to this explanation of the name changes, instead selectively revising our history to then justify our exclusion from the ranks of tribes who have government- to-government relationships with the United States. The Lumbee struggle is not for identity, but for sovereignty.

Another question about Lumbee history consistently involves our “origins.” This is the question I get most often from the general public, and it also sums up the doubt expressed by anti-Indian interests in Congress and people who comment on websites and create Wikipedia entries on us. The argument goes that we’re not real Indians and don’t deserve federal recognition because we can’t prove descent from a “historic” tribe, or that we don’t look “Indian.” While my book doesn’t delve into this research extensively, it is plain that the Lumbees descend from a kin network of extended families, some of whom have had long-standing attachments to our current homeland in Robeson County, and some of whom migrated there in the 18th century. It is the relationship of people and place, and the development and maintenance of a coherent political and social organization, that makes us real Indians. Of course some of our ancestors are non-Indian; nearly every member of every tribe has non-Indian ancestors; it was a fact of colonization. And if you look at the so-called “historic” tribes (i.e. the ones you’ve heard of: Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Navajos, Sioux, etc.), each one of them has a time in which they were called something else than what they are called now. To pretend that there is some kind of universal definition of a “historic” tribe against which Lumbees should be measured is to deny that Indian people can legitimately change and that colonization itself happened. It’s a notion that hurts all of us as Indigenous people, and one that we can refute–to powerful effect on international Indigenous affairs–if we are all on the same epistemological page.


By Malinda Maynor Lowery

  • “This American nation is home to other Indigenous nations which were formed around different values, strategies, and under different circumstances than the American nation. If we are to understand or define the Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation JPG American people, we must also understand the Native peoples whose nations share the land. For Native history is linked in the most intimate ways with that of America-the land, the people, and the nation. They are linked by kinship, culture, and economy, but also by race, class, gender, and inequality. Whether the inequalities tied to citizenship in the American nation can be rectified depends largely on how we know ourselves and each other. Do we wrestle with categories of knowledge that are different from our own, and assign them equal standing with our own categories? Or do we decide that some categories are more real, truthful, or scientific than others?” — Malinda Maynor Lowery in “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation”
  • Our exalted names for our homeland (God’s Country, the Holy Land) or our everyday names (Home-Home, or just Pembroke, Prospect, even “on the swamp”) only reveal so much about that bedrock element of Indian identity-land. The land’s voice is a mere whisper, though its quietness is like that of my grandmother Lucy. When my father’s family barned tobacco and tied it, grandmother Lucy set the work pace and, as my father said, “controlled you with kindness-she’d bring you iced tea and pat you on the head but she did that to make sure you stayed on track, that you didn’t hold anybody else up.” My family speaks of the land as our guide, our resource, our life. It is where our identity begins and ends. — Malinda Maynor Lowery in “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation”

About Malinda Maynor Lowery

  • “[A] richly detailed and very personal work. . . . A complex and layered story.” — Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources
  • “This is the first book to construct a full, layered sense of who the Lumbees are–and how they became who they are–as a Native American community. Lowery demonstrates that the core characteristics of kinship, reciprocity, and relationship to land have persisted in Lumbee identity, even as Lumbees–in dialogue with outsiders–enfolded new elements into their collective sense of self. Lowery’s cogent explanation of the choices Lumbees made to accept the racial logic of Jim Crow in order to strive for community independence is nuanced, sensitive, and convincing. Her book will be a major contribution to American Indian, southern, and African American historical studies.” — Tiya Miles, University of Michigan
  • “Lowery’s book is a wonderfully rich account of Lumbee history in the segregated South under Jim Crow and makes a valuable contribution to American Indian history and the history of the American South. A lively exploration of Lumbee identity in post-Civil War North Carolina, it figures identity as a complex and not always polite ‘conversation’ between insiders and outsiders that changes over time. Her argument is solidly grounded in archival research and also interweaves personal and family stories that enhance the narrative in beautiful ways. Her insights on race, identity, and recognition are subtle, nuanced, and powerful.” — Jean O’Brien, University of Minnesota

Posted on Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Top Young Historians: 114 – Christina Snyder, 31


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

114: Christina Snyder, 8-2-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, History and American Studies, Indiana University 2009-present.
Area of Research: Identity, race, and the intersection of Native American and Southern history
Education: Ph.D., History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
Major Publications: Snyder is the author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010). Christina Snyder JPG Snyder is also the author of scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Conquered Enemies, Adopted Kin, and Owned People: The Creek Indians and Their Captives,” Journal of Southern History 73 (2007), 255-288; “The Lady of Cofitachequi: Gender and Political Power among Native Southerners” in South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, ed. Joan Johnson, Valinda Littlefield, and Marjorie Spruill. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.
Snyder is currently working on the book manuscript “The Indian Gentlemen of Choctaw Academy: Status and Sovereignty in Antebellum America.” and an upcoming journal article “Andrew Jackson’s Indian Son: Native Captives and White Captors.”
Awards: Snyder is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) Travel Research Grant, IU, 2010;
New Frontiers Exploration Traveling Fellowship, IU, 2010;
Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2007-09;
Sequoyah Fellow, Royster Society of Fellows, The Graduate School, UNC , 2006-07;
Phillips Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2006;
Wills Fellow, Tennessee Historical Society, 2006;
Filson Fellow, Filson Historical Society, 2004/05;
Summer Research Grant, Center for the Study of the American South, 2004.
Additional Info:
Snyder was the Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Asst. Professor, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2007-2009.

Personal Anecdote

I grew up in Macon, Georgia, a fall-line city carved out of Creek Indian country that became a major cotton depot. My high school was downtown, near a cluster of historic sites: the Cannonball House, so-named because of damage sustained during the Civil War; the 1916 Beaux Arts train station, with its reliquary of extra water foundations and bathrooms and waiting rooms; the home of Sidney Lanier, a poet, novelist, and critic who famously eulogized the Old South; the Douglass Theater which, throughout the Jim Crow era, featured entertainers including local greats like Little Richard and Otis Redding. Every day we passed a memorial of some kind, markers that begged us to consider the legacies of slavery, the Civil War, segregation, or some combination thereof. Substantial physical reminders were all around us, and they forced an ongoing dialog with our history. I doubt that any Maconite would argue that the past is past.

Towering literally over all these historic sites were the Ocmulgee mounds, remnants of a thousand-year-old Native city that had borne silent witness to a much longer scope of Southern history. The tallest mound was built atop a natural plateau, and seemed nearly twice as high as its fifty feet when viewed from the floodplain. When I was about eight years old, I went to summer day-camp there, and I remember trekking around the sweltering, miasmic bottomlands at the base the mounds, wondering about the lives of the chiefs who had lived atop them, including how they had managed without air conditioning. Growing up, this place seemed disjointed from the rest of my historical knowledge: I could connect the dots from the colony’s eighteenth-century settlers to the living history museum at the Georgia Agorama, but Ocmulgee seemed an awe-inspiring outlier, a challenge to what I thought I knew about the place I grew up.

That challenge has continued to inspire me. Throughout the course of my education, I discovered, of course, that Ocmulgee is not an outlier. It was an early and particularly grand example of the Native chiefdoms that dominated the region prior to European colonization. The Creek or Muscogee Indians, whose ancestors built the site, carried its name with them to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma; their tribal government meets at Okmulgee in a contemporary building shaped like a mound. Indian Removal expelled the Creeks and many other Native peoples from their homelands, and so, too, did it largely erase them from the region’s historical memory. When the cotton curtain descended, it obscured the history of an older South, a messier, less biologically determined one. But, as I wrote in my first book, these two Souths were never really separate, and Native people, like their neighbors, struggled with questions of identity and belonging, and the meaning and significance of race, slavery, and freedom. I’m grateful to all of my teachers, especially my hometown, for showing me the complexity and diversity of American history, for exposing its contested meanings and its enduring relevance to us all.


By Christina Snyder

  • “In a nation passionate about freedom, the standard historical narrative tells us that bondage was an American aberration. Restricted in time and space, slavery characterized the antebellum South, and its victims Slavery in Indian Country The Changing Face of Captivity in Early  America JPG were African Americans. Captivity, not slavery, belonged to Indian tribes, and they targeted white women. But bondage cannot be so neatly confined. In 1725, near what is now Natchez, Mississippi, Tattooed Serpent’s nameless Indian servant died not merely because he was loyal, but because he was a slave. In life, the head servant contributed labor and prestige to his master’s household; in death, he confirmed the social order that privileged elites like Tattooed Serpent. Captivity and its most exploitive form-slavery-was indigenous to North America, it was widespread, and it took many forms. From Tattooed Serpent’s slave to indentured servants in colonial Philadelphia to Apache women sold in the mission of San Antonio, the unfree were everywhere.” — Christina Snyder in “Slavery in Indian Country The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America”

About Christina Snyder

  • “Until Christina Snyder, no historian has told the story of the constantly evolving Native American tradition of enslavement that long pre-dated the arrival of Europeans and of Africans. Compellingly written and deeply researched, Slavery in Indian Country is a model of how foregrounding Native experiences can transform our understanding of American history. The “Slave South” will never look quite the same again.” — Daniel K. Richter, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  • “Snyder illuminates a world where slavery and survival went hand-in-hand, an era when native people were both masters and slaves, and a culture that only gradually learned to define slaves by the color of their skin. Her narrative sweep, unflinching analysis, and astonishing research make this a disturbing and powerful book.” — Adam Rothman, Georgetown University
  • “Snyder skillfully explores Indian captive-taking, associated with warfare from the dawn of time, and its evolution and adaptation to new conditions after Europeans and Africans arrived and captivity was transformed into race-based slavery. Beautifully written, this is Indian and Southern history at its best.” — Kathryn Braund, author of Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685-1815
  • “Deeply researched, authoritative, and indispensable, Slavery in Indian Country tells us how slavery as an institution changed from a kin-based to a race-based system and richly evokes what the experience of slavery meant to those who were enslaved.” — Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut
  • “A fascinating new perspective on slavery in the American South, especially valuable for understanding slavery’s great variability and change over time, and for offering new insight into race and race-making.” — Peter Kolchin, author of American Slavery
  • “The American South, a familiar setting for bondage, reveals a new story,” in the hands of Indiana University assistant professor of history Snyder, who explores the Indian practice of enslaving prisoners of war in this instructive and remarkably readable book. “The South is more than the Confederacy,” she asserts; the major Native American nations (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) were not merely “villains or victims or foils, but leading players” in slaveholding. She reaches back to early Indian captivity practices– and how conceptions of captives and their roles in Indian communities changed with the arrival of Europeans and Africans. During the colonial period, captives were chosen on the basis of gender and age, not race, but as a nativist movement (“a collective identity as red people”) emerged in the late-18th century, Americans, black and white, became the “common enemy.” By the early 19th century–when, among other factors, black slaves became more highly valued–Africans were specifically targeted. Snyder breaks new ground in this study reveals pre-colonial Southern history and restores visibility to Native American history in the region.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Posted on Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Top Young Historians: 113 – Jennifer Burns


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

113: Jennifer Burns, 7-26-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, University of Virginia, 2007- present
Area of Research: American political, cultural, and intellectual history
Education: Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, History, 2005
Major Publications: Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher. Based on exclusive access to Rand’s personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand’s unedited letters and journals. Jennifer Burns JPGBurns is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “O Libertarian, Where is Thy Sting?” Journal of Policy History, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2007: 453-471; “Liberalism and The Conservative Imagination,” in Liberalism for a New Century, Eds. Neil Jumonville and Kevin Mattson (University of California Press, 2007); “In Retrospect: George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945,” Reviews in American History, 32 (September 2004): 447-462; “Godless Capitalism: Ayn Rand and the Conservative Movement,” Modern Intellectual History, 1, 3 (November 2004): 1-27. Reprinted in American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in Twentieth Century America, ed. Nelson Lichtenstein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).
Awards: Burns is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2010-2013;
University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Fellowship, 2010-2011;
University of Virginia Bankard Fund for Political Economy, 2010-2011, 2009;
University of Virginia Summer Research Grant, 2009;
University of Virginia Excellence in Diversity Fellow, 2008-2009;
University of Virginia Professors as Writers Fellow, 2008-2009;
Campbell National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 2007-2008;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2007;
James H. Kettner Graduate Prize for best dissertation, 2006, Berkeley History Department;
Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, UC Berkeley. Mentor of prizewinners, 2006 and 2003;
Research Fellow, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 2006;
Grantee, F.A. Hayek Fund for Scholars, Institute for Humane Studies, 2006, 2007;
University of California, Berkeley, History Department Block Grant Fellowship, 2004, 2000;
University of California, Berkeley, Dean’s Competitive Fellowship, 2002;
Derek Bok Certificate of Distinction for excellence in teaching, Harvard University, 2000;

Additional Info:
Burns has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon StewartC-Span’s Book TVNPR’s Weekend America, and Here & Now. She has also contributed articles to Harvard MagazineForeign Policythe Christian Science Monitor, and several academic journals.
Burns has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the Cato Institute.
Jennifer Burns personal website

Personal Anecdote

In 2006 I was starting my first job as a lecturer at UC Berkeley when the technology office phoned up and asked if I would like to podcast my course “Introduction to United States History Since 1865.” I didn’t even have an iPod, but I said “yes” without thinking much about it, thus launching the most unexpected and rewarding aspect of my career as a historian. Six months later, my lectures were up on iTunes and had been downloaded nearly 300,000 times. My inbox was bursting with emails from enthusiastic history students around the world. Accustomed to the private sanctuary of my books and my study, I panicked. It felt as though I had lost some cherished measure of privacy, and I wanted the lectures taken down immediately.

But then I paused and began to reflect on my goals and values as a historian. I had spent years of advanced study gathering knowledge – was this now to be shared only with specialists in my field? I had always believed historians should seek a broader audience, and now I was living that vision. As a Ph.D. student I had benefited from the intellectual vitality and openness of a public university, and my lectures were one small way to further the Berkeley legacy.

Instead of taking the lectures down, I decided to create a website for podcasters and began corresponding regularly with my listeners. Since then, the sense of speaking to a larger audience has shaped and strengthened all of my scholarship. Podcasting helped me craft my first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, so that it appealed to both academics and general readers. Engaging with the public has deepened my commitment to educational equity and convinced me that there need not be a firewall between professional and popular history. I have learned that even from the ivory tower, our profession can still foster and connect with the ongoing human search for meaning, story, and a shared past. Though I may be an accidental podcaster, I have become and hope to remain a deliberate historian.


By Jennifer Burns

  • Writing my first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, was like being a detective at Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right JPGthe heart of an intellectual mystery story. Though Rand’s legend was well established among both her fans and enemies, there was little scholarly work about her life and career. I was the first historian to work in her personal papers, and thus it was essential to document her life with archival evidence. Then came the challenge of fitting Rand into the evolving ideological landscape of the American right, which historians were just beginning to chart. The final step was crafting an analytic narrative that would demystify Rand yet retain the tension and sense of discovery that animated my years of detective work. — Jennifer Burns about “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right”
  • This book firmly locates Rand within the tumultuous American century that her life spanned. Rand’s defense of individualism, celebration of capitalism, and controversial morality of selfishness can be understood only against the backdrop of her historical moment. All sprang from her early experiences in Communist Russia and became the most powerful and enduring of her messages. What Rand confronted in her work was a basic human dilemma; the failure of good intentions. Her indictment of altruism, social welfare, and services to others sprang from her belief that these ideals underlay Communism, Nazism, and the wars that wracked the century. Rand’s solution, characteristically was extreme: to eliminate all virtues that could possibly be used in the service of totalitarianism. It was also simplistic. If Rand’s great strength as a thinker was to grasp interrelated underlying principles and weave them into an impenetrable logical edifice, it was also her great weakness. In her effort to find a unifying cause for all the trauma and the trauma and bloodshed of the twentieth century, Rand was attempting the impossible. But it was this deadly serious quest that animated all her writing. Rand was among the first to identify the problem of the modern state’s often terrifying power and make it an issue of popular concern…..
    Goddess of the Market focuses on Rand’s contributions as a political philosopher, for it is here that she has exerted her greatest influence. Rand’s Romantic Realism has not changed American literature, nor has Objectivism penetrated far into the philosophy profession. She does however, remain a veritable institution within the American right. Atlas Shrugged is still devoured by eager young conservatives, cited by political candidates, and promoted by corporate tycoons. Critics who dismiss Rand as a shallow thinker appealing only to adolescents miss her significance altogether. For over a half a century Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.
    The story of Ayn Rand is also the story of libertarianism, conservatism, Objectivism, and the three schools of thought that intersected more prominently with her life. – Jennifer Burns in “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right”
  • Jennifer Burns on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

About Jennifer Burns

  • “An important study… Burns’s dispassionate intellectual history makes a persuasive case that Ayn Rand was no joke; she was a forceful and original thinker, and a gifted manipulator of fictional conventions for ideological ends.” — Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement
  • “A lovingly crafted piece of scholarly work, thrifty and concise, that follows Rand’s shifting sands of ideology.” — News Blaze
  • “Burns’ thoroughly engaging biography of writer, philosopher, and all-around controversial figure Rand delves deeply into both Rands life and her fervent devotion to capitalism and individualism…. Burns’ clear, crisp writing and piercing insights into Rand and her motivations make this eminently readable biography a must-read not only for Rand devotees but for anyone interested in the merging of literature and politics.”– Booklist(starred review)
  • “A smart assessment of Rand’s life and ideas and how they influenced each other… As Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand’s ideas have remained an importaAs Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand’s ideas have remained an important part of the American ideological mix, especially in how she honored the creative powers of American business in a free market to improve human lives. Ms. Burns’ readers will see Rand still has the power to instruct on the meaning and scary implications of government growth in the age of Barack Obama. — Brian Doherty, The Washington Times
  • “Burns… spent 8 years researching the development of Rand’s thinking and principles, and she has produced a terrific book–a serious consideration of Rand’s ideas, and her role in the conservative movement of the past three quarters of a century, that is empty of academic jargon and accessible to those unfamiliar with Rand’s life or ideas.” — The American Thinker
  • “Burns… situates Rand in a rich intellectual and cultural tradition that predated the New Deal and eventually gave rise to a revitalized limited-government movement that culminated in figures such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Burns is particularly sharp at analyzing how Cold War conservatives such as Buckley rejected Rands rationalism but eventually benefited from her popularity with college students during the 1960s. Since the demise of their common foe, the Soviet Union, conservatives and libertarians increasingly find themselves at odds with one another over precisely the same issues that Rand and Buckley fought over decades ago. These range from questions about the proper role of religion in a secular society to whether the state should be used to restrict alternative lifestyles to the legitimate circumstances for military action.”– Nick Gillespie, Wilson Quarterly
  • “What University of Virginia historian Burns does well is to explicate the evolution of Rand’s individualist worldview, placing her within the context of American conservative and libertarian thought: from H.L. Mencken to William Buckley and later the Vietnam War… Overall, this contributes to an understanding of a complex life in relation to American conservatism.”–Publishers Weekly
  • “Burns has assembled a book that will interest anyone who was influenced by Ayn Rand.When a major academic publisher, like Oxford University Press, sets out to explore to the impact of Ayn Rand on American politics, that alone is a significant event… Jennifer Burns has produced a fascinating work. It is the first serious study of Rands ideas that had full access to Rands own papers. As such it is valuable. I would recommend all those interested in Ayn Rand, and Objectivism, to place their order for the book today.” — Laissez Faire Books
  • “One of the most influential, most infuriating figures in the history of American conservatism has finally met her match. Goddess of the Market is both insightful scholarship and a compelling piece of writing. Jennifer Burns has created a model for intellectual biographers to follow.”– Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
  • “This provocative intellectual biography is must-reading for all those interested in the life and work of one of the most controversial thinkers of the 20th century. Drawing carefully from primary and secondary sources, Jennifer Burns has made a significant contribution to Ayn Rand scholarship.” — Chris Matthew Sciabarra, author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical
  • “Jennifer Burns has written a brilliant book about Ayn Rand–why many men and women praise her, but others despise her. She places Rand in the intellectual and political history of her times, moving adroitly between Rand’s fiction, non-fiction, and the people with whom she interacted.” — Martin Anderson, Hoover Institution
  • “Ayn Rand has always been a difficult figure to fit into the history of conservatism, but surely she mattered–and matters still. This important and beautifully written book shows how. It seamlessly links Rand’s operatic personal life with her political ideals and influence of those ideas, conversations, tirades, friendships, fights, and intimacies with finely-drawn and memorable characters. This is biography, intellectual history, and political genealogy that gets the story right, told with drama, skill, and insight.” — Paula Baker, Ohio State University
  • “Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns just arrived. I ripped open the package and got stuck reading and reading and reading. The emails, phonecalls, and IMs just had to wait. Let me just say that this is a wonderful book: beautifully written, completely balanced, extensively researched. The match between author and subject is so perfect that one might believe that the author was chosen by the gods to write this book. She has sympathy and affection for her subject but treats her as a human being, with no attempt to cover up the foibles. It is quite wonderful. I so look forward to getting back to it. It is hard to imagine that it can be surpassed as a history of Rand, her ideas, and life.” — Mises Economics Blog
  • “Burns has the edge, though, in identifying Rand’s intellectual legacy. She describes Rand as “the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right,” elaborating: “Just as Rand had provided businessmen with a set of ideas that met their need to feel righteous and honorable in their professional lives, she gave young people a philosophical system that met their deep need for order and certainty.” — Washington Monthly Magazine
  • “One of the strengths of Burns’ book is that she, unlike some other liberal scholars, has an excellent understanding of the issues that divided libertarians and conservatives, and also of the distinctions between different types of libertarianism. Burns’ book is a great analysis of Rand’s place in history, and I certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Rand or the history of libertarian and pro-free market movements.” — The Volokh
  • “A well-written and absorbing biography of Rand, it also places her ideas and influence in three overlapping contexts. Goddess of the Market goes a long way toward explaining both the popularity of Rand’s ideas and their somewhat marginalized status. — U.S. Intellectual History
  • “A lovingly crafted piece of scholarly work, thrifty and concise, that follows Rand’s shifting sands of ideology.” — News Blaze
  • “Historian Jennifer Burns’s GODDESS OF THE MARKET–the stronger of the two [biographies]–situates Rand in the 20th- century American political scene, painting her as an influential advocate for capitalism and freedom.” — The Weekly Standard
  • “Although it is hard to imagine that Rand would have been pleased with either of these biographies, both should have satisfied her desire to be treated respectfully, as a woman of ideas. The two books cover much of the same ground despite their methodological differences: Heller relies more heavily on interviews, whereas Burns has done more work in the archives (both Rand’s and those of other conservative thinkers). Heller’s book also emphasizes the affair with Nathaniel Branden, which has been explored before in memoirs by both Brandens. Burns seeks instead to tell the story of Rand’s intellectual development, situating her in the constellation of postwar conservatism, and in this way her more academic treatment is also the more original.” –- Harper’s
  • “The class was very engaging and I enjoyed the material thoroughly. The analysis of cultural and political trends is a topic that often does not get enough attention in high school. Professor Burns did a great job choosing readings to reinforce her lectures… This woman can really lecture and my fifty minutes goes quickly in this class. She is enthusiastic and audible, and it is obvious she is knowledgeable in her field of study. She speaks to her class and does not simply just read off a slide show. Professor Burns is also very easy to reach outside of class. She always notifies us via email if there are changes to her office hours. I also appreciate the effort on her part to notify students when there are political and historical forums on Grounds related to the course. She has been a great professor and this has been a very informative class and one that I made a point never to miss.”…
    “I loved the material presented in this class, it gave me a clearer perspective of todays world. This is really a worthwhile and interesting class.”…
    “GREAT course! I learned so much from Professor Burns and she was one of the most effective and efficient lecturers I have had thus far. Her lectures are very easy to follow and she gives a great synopsis of historical events. LOVED this course.”
    “Listening to Prof. Burns lecture, it’s obviously how passionate she is about the subject matter. She’s extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter and lectures were neatly organized in an easy-to-follow manner. She did an excellent job of looking at all aspects of events that have (comparatively) occurred so recently so that we could view them in proper historical context.”…
    “She was an excellent lecturer and I could tell she cared about the students.”…
    “This was by far my favorite class at UVA.”…
    “I am a history major, and this was one of the best history classes I have taken here. Professor Burns is an excellent lecturer, the readings were fascinating, and the workload was challenging but manageable.”…
    “Burns is an AMAZING lecturer; very organized, very lively, very articulate. Overall, extremely effective.”…
    “Professor Jennifer Burns is wonderful. It would be a huge mistake not to tenure this brilliant, approachable, unbelievably articulate woman. Her classes were always fascinating, and she has an ability to tie everything together. I can’t stress enough how much I admire her ability to articulate not only the history, but the circumstances combining that shaped the events we studied. SHE IS AN INCREDIBLE TEACHER. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TENURE HER SO I CAN TAKE MORE OF HER CLASSES! I almost want to give her a round of applause after each class, and I am not exaggerating.”…
    “Fantastic and well-organized coverage of the material. Readings were well chosen, supplemented the lecture and added depth to the course. Very dynamic professor.” — Undergraduate Student Comments
  • “The course was informative, compelling, and rigorous. Altogether, everything a graduate seminar should be.”…
    “Dr. Burns was very willing to allow me to use a topic related to my dissertation for my papers in this class. This was extremely helpful for me. Thanks for your patience and help!”…
    “I found Prof. Burns to be an excellent Professor, and am sure she will teach many great courses in the future, and be a real asset to the department.” – Great class – got a lot out of it. — Grad Student Comment

Posted on Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Top Young Historians: 112 – Andrew Preston, 36


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

112: Andrew Preston, 7-19-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Senior University Lecturer in History, and Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University
Area of Research: American diplomatic history; American-East Asian relations; American religious history
Education: Ph.D., History, Cambridge University, 2001
Major Publications: Preston is the author of The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006.
Andrew Preston JPGHe is currently writing a book on the religious influence on American war and diplomacy from the colonial era to the present, to be published by Knopf in 2012.
Preston is the co-editor with Fredrik Logevall of Nixon in the World: U.S. Foreign Relations, 1969-1977. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Preston is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Universal Nationalism: Christian America’s Response to the Years of Upheaval.” In The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective, ed. Niall Ferguson, Charles S. Maier, Erez Manela, and Daniel J. Sargent. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010: 306-318; “The Politics of Realism and Religion: Christian Responses to Bush’s New World Order.” Diplomatic History 34:1 (January 2010): 95-118; “The Deeper Roots of Faith and Foreign Policy.” International Journal 65 (Spring 2010): 451-462; “Reviving Religion in the History of American Foreign Relations.” In God and Global Order: The Power of Religion in American Foreign Policy, ed. Jonathan Chaplin and Robert Joustra. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2010: 25-44; “The Death of a Peculiar Special Relationship: Myron Taylor and the Religious Roots of America’s Cold War.” In America’s Special Relationships: Foreign and Domestic Aspects of the Politics of Alliance, ed. John Dumbrell and Axel Schäfer. New York and London: Routledge, 2009: 202-216; “Bridging the Gap between the Sacred and the Secular in the History of American Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History, 30:5 (November 2006): 783-812; Operation Smallbridge: Chester Ronning, the Second Indochina War, and the Challenge to the United States in Asia,” Pacific Historical Review 72:3 (August 2003): 353-390; “The Soft Hawks’ Dilemma in Vietnam: Michael V. Forrestal at the National Security Council, 1962-64,” International History Review 25:1 (March 2003): 63-95.
Awards: Preston is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
London School of Economics Fellow, Cold War Studies Centre, 2006-2009;
Post-Doctoral Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2001-2003;
Fox International Fellow, Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University, 1999-2000.
Additional Info:
Formerly Visiting Professor of History, Autumn 2007, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Institut universitaire de hautes études internationals et du développement), Geneva, Switzerland;
And Visiting Assistant Professor, International Relations, John M. Olin Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2005-2006.

Personal Anecdote

I was twenty-five years old in the spring of 1999, and just in the throes of my first intensive research trip to the United States. I was writing a dissertation on McGeorge Bundy, National Security Adviser to Kennedy and Johnson, and his role in the origins of America’s war in Vietnam. This trip was to be an extended reconnaissance mission to scope out archives in Washington, New York, Boston/Cambridge, and Austin, and lay the groundwork for a full year of research in 1999-2000. I had also lined up several interviews with many of Bundy’s former colleagues.

Unlike many students of the war, I had no personal connection to Vietnam. As a Canadian born after U.S. troops withdrew in the spring of 1973, the war was a chapter in history rather than an episode from my own life. My parents had attended a protest or two in Toronto, but they were not activists, and Vietnam had never really been a part of their lives. I became fascinated by Vietnam for purely intellectual reasons, especially after reading David Halberstam’s classic The Best and the Brightest. So I was yet unacquainted with the raw emotional power the war still held over generations of Americans.

One of my interviewees was Robert S. McNamara, the former Secretary of Defense and probably the best-known Vietnam policymaker. After decades of silence on the subject since leaving the Pentagon in 1968, McNamara had only recently begun granting interviews on Vietnam. In 1995, he published his memoir of the war, In Retrospect, which attracted a good deal of praise but also a firestorm of criticism.

McNamara not only possessed a formidable intellect, he had also earned a reputation as a fearsome interviewee who would storm out of the room if he felt the questions-or the questioner-were political, moralistic, or just plain stupid. Despite In Retrospect-or probably because of it-McNamara was still extraordinarily sensitive about Vietnam. Indeed, I was surprised he had agreed to my interview request in the first place. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous.

We met in his large, book-lined office in Washington. To break the ice, I began with what I thought was a softball. I pulled out a document I’d photocopied a few weeks before at the LBJ Library in Austin, a 1965 memo to LBJ outlining Bundy and McNamara’s reasons for advocating military escalation. I asked him to take me back to 1965 and explain the pressures they faced. To follow up, I had a series of tougher questions about why he and Bundy had not only supported escalation despite evidence-already mounting in early 1965-that it likely wouldn’t work, but also why they had so vigorously marginalized and discredited the prescient dissenters within the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Brandishing the memo, I asked my question. McNamara looked at me blankly, and then down at the piece of paper in my hand. Narrowing his eyes, he fixed his gaze upon me again and blurted out, “Well, just read the damn thing! You’re a smart guy, you can obviously read, so just read it for yourself!” I was stunned by the rawness of his anger. I didn’t know how to respond, and his comments hovered over us in the awkward silence. But he hadn’t asked me to leave, and so I meekly suggested that it was perhaps best if I moved on to the next question. “Yes, I think you should,” he replied tersely, and we spoke for another half-hour. He relaxed a bit, as did I. But I never did ask my tough questions about the suppression on internal dissent (though they ended up forming the analytical core of my dissertation). I did, however, receive an invaluable lesson in Vietnam’s enduring resonance.


By Andrew Preston

  • Although both Kennedy and Johnson were strong presidents, neither was particularly passionate about Vietnam, and neither of them was ever certain about the best course of action. They were not enthusiastic about waging The War Council McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam JPGa difficult war in pursuit of murky aims, but they also did not want to risk the domestic and international consequences that seemed likely to follow disengagement. At this point Bundy and the NSC staff enter the story, and it is the president’s uncertainty that makes them so important. Unlike their chief executive, they were rarely unsure. Their strong advice, their skill in promoting it, their bureaucratic dexterity, and their professional intimacy with the president enabled them to skew the internal debate over Vietnam in their favor. This book, then, is both a bureaucratic history of the changes in presidential decision making and a diplomatic history of the origins of the Vietnam War. It is a story with two inseparable themes: the acquisition and consolidation of power, and how that power was then used. — Andrew Preston in “The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam” (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006)
  • Independently, religion and foreign relations are two of the most important and exhaustively studied aspects of American history. Religion has consistently been one of the dominant forces in shaping American culture, politics, economics, and national identity. Indeed, the United States is the only major industrialized democracy where religion is as salient today as it was three centuries ago. America’s engagement with the world has had a similarly profound effect on virtually all facets of national life. Moreover, since at least the Seven Years’ War, and certainly since the Revolution, American foreign relations have shaped people and events within and beyond North America. Religion and foreign relations, then, are two subjects that have not only been instrumental to the study of American history, they have also played an instrumental role in making both the United States and the world what they are today. — Andrew Preston in “Bridging the Gap between Church and State in the History of American Foreign Relations,” Diplomatic History 30:5 (November 2006)

About Andrew Preston

Reviews of The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam

  • “A superb study of one of the key shapers of America’s Vietnam policy and of the National Security Council he led. Preston is an enormously talented young historian, and his skills are on display in this powerful and instructive book.” — Fredrik Logevall, author of Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam
  • “An impressive book that establishes more than any previous work the critical role of the reorganized National Security Council under Kennedy and Johnson. Preston skillfully demonstrates that McGeorge Bundy was key in gaining the national security adviser an influence comparable to that of the secretaries of state and defense.” — Gary R. Hess, author of Presidential Decisions for War
  • “In a vivid portrait of the intelligent, influential, and insidious McGeorge Bundy, Preston demonstrates that Bundy and his counterparts failed as policymakers because they made choices that reflected their own experiences, not the conditions of the world beyond America’s borders. This is a sobering and timely book that everyone interested in foreign policy should read.” — Jeremi Suri, author of “Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente”
  • “A powerful and graceful account of the influence of McGeorge Bundy’s National Security Council in shaping U.S. foreign policy in the Vietnam era. Preston’s astute examination of the ‘soft hawks’ who took us to war underscores the need for us to constantly revise what we know of our history. The War Council is a formidable contribution.” — Kai Bird, co-author of “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer”
  • “It is in exploring how Bundy convinced two presidents of the rightness of his argument that The War Council provides fresh insight. Most histories of the Vietnam war focus either on the combat itself or on the political leadership involved. Mr. Preston looks not at the flashes of gunfire but at the more shadowy world of bureaucratic infighting…[The War Council] shows all too clearly what happens when the White House circle of decision-makers has too small a radius. Clearly, leaders have the right to rely on a loyal few; excessive debate and deadlock are not desirable. But as America is once again learning, people in power need to make sure that the decisive circle includes those who actually know a region.” — The Economist
  • “Buffs of the 1960s and 1970s will relish Andrew Preston’s outstanding The War Council, a superbly researched reinterpretation of the origins of the Vietnam War that confirms its author’s reputation as the rising star of American History.” — Dominic Sandbrook, “Daily Telegraph”
  • “Preston has captured his subject well. His research is impeccable.” — David A. Welch, “Literary Review of Canada”
  • “With admirable clarity, Preston sketches Bundy’s intellectual heritage…Preston’s book is a definitive account of the train wreck into which Bundy and his allies drove the United States in Vietnam.” — Marilyn Young, International History Review
  • “This book is well written, neatly incorporates many primary sources, and provides cogent summaries of the positions taken by Bundy and some of his key assistants. The author also provides an excellent synopsis both of Bundy’s intellectual development and of the transformation of the NSC during this period.” — John Garofano, “Political Science Quarterly”

Reviews of Nixon in the World American Foreign Relations, 1969-1977 Edited by Fredrik Logevall and Andrew Preston

  • “Logevall and Preston have done a splendid job assembling a valuable collection that should help quiet those who continue to celebrate Nixon’s diplomatic brilliance.” — Melvin Small, “The Journal of American History”
  • “An outstanding overview of the Nixon era in international affairs. Nixon in the World helps us better understand both the historical uniqueness of the détente approach, and the reasons for its defeat.” — Odd Arne Westad, London School of Economics
  • “‘Rescuing choice from circumstance’ was a mantra of Nixon and Kissinger as they tried to steer the ship of state in the face of turmoil abroad and turbulence at home. These essays vividly illuminate the challenges they faced, the methods they employed, and the successes and failures they experienced. The book is a major contribution to our understanding of a fascinating era in the history of U.S. foreign relations.” — Melvyn P. Leffler, author of “For the Soul of Mankind”
  • “These essays shed much light on the fascinating and elusive Nixon administration. Each is excellent and can be read with profit by itself, but unlike many collections it is even better read cover-to-cover. Both Nixon as a peculiar leader and American foreign policy are revealed in rich detail.” — Robert Jervis, author of “American Foreign Policy in a New Era”

Posted on Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Top Young Historians: 111 – Thomas G. Andrews


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

111: Thomas G. Andrews, 7-12-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Colorado, Denver, Fall, 2007-present
Area of Research: The social and environmental history of the Rocky Mountain West
Education: Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States History, May, 2003; Dissertation: “The Road to Ludlow: Work, Environment, and Industrialization in Southern Colorado, 1870-1915”
Major Publications: Andrews is the author of Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008, winner of the 2009 George Perkins Marsh Prize for Best Book in Environmental History, American Society for Environmental History; 2009 Bancroft Prize, Columbia University; Thomas G. Andrews JPG2009 Vincent P. DeSantis Book Prize, The Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; 2009 Colorado Book Award, History Category; 2009 Spence Award, Mining History Association; Honorable Mention, 2009 Hundley Prize, The Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association; Finalist, 2009 Clements Prize, Southwest History category, Clements Center at SMU; Noteworthy Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, Industrial Relations Section of Princeton Firestone Library; 2009 Caroline Bancroft History Prize, Denver Public Library.
Andrews is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Contemplating Animal Histories: Politics and Pedagogy across Borders,” Radical History Review 107 (Spring, 2010): 139-165; “Making Meat: Efficiency and Exploitation in Progressive Chicago.” Organization of American Historians Magazine 24 (January, 2010): 37-40; Flannery Burke and Thomas Andrews, “The Five Cs of History: Putting the Elements of Historical Thinking into Practice in Teacher Education.” Pp. 151-167 in History Education 101: The Past, Present, and Future of Teacher Preparation, eds. Wilson J. Warren and D. Antonio Cantu. Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Publishing, 2008; “What Does It Mean to Think Historically?” Perspectives: The Newsmagazine of the American Historical Association (January, 2007): 32-35l; “‘Made by Toile’? Tourism, Landscape, and Labor in Colorado, 1858-1917.” Journal of American History 92 (December, 2005): 837-863; “Turning the Tables on Assimilation: Oglala Lakotas and the Pine Ridge Day Schools, 1889-1920s.” Western Historical Quarterly 33 (Winter, 2002): 407-430; “Tata Atanasio Trujillo’s Unlikely Tale of Utes, Nuevo Mexicanos, and the Settling of Colorado’s San Luis Valley.” New Mexico Historical Review 75 (January, 2000): 4-41.
Andrews is currently working on An Animals’ History of the United States. Under contract with Harvard University Press, and “An Environmental History of the Kawuneeche Valley, Rocky Mountain National Park.” Book-length National Park Service contract report
Awards: Andrews is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
W. P. Whitsett Lecturer in Western History, California State University-Northridge, 2010;
Bancroft Prize, Columbia University, 2009;
George Perkins Marsh Award, American Society for Environmental History, 2009;
Vincent DeSantis Prize, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 2009;
Caroline Bancroft Prize, Denver Public Library Western History Department, 2009;
Colorado Book Award, History, 2009;
Clark Spence Award, Mining History Association, 2009;
Honorable Mention, Clements Prize, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2009;
Honorable Mention, Hundley Book Award, Pacific Coast Branch-American Historical Association, 2009;
Alice Hamilton Article Prize, American Society for Environmental History, 2007;
Ray Allen Billington Article Prize, Western History Association, 2006;
Polished Apple Teaching Award, California State University-Northridge, 2005;
Rachel Carson Dissertation Prize, American Society for Environmental History, 2004;
Arrell M. Gibson Article Prize, Western History Association, 2003;
John Topham and Susan Redd Butler Faculty Fellowship, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, 2004-5, 2009-10;
CRISP Grant, UC-Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2009;
American Council for Learned Societies Contemplative Practice Fellowship, 2007-8;
Bill Lane Center for the North American West, Stanford University, Short-Term Fellow, 2007-8;
W. M. Keck Young Scholars Award, Huntington Library, 2005-6;
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on “The Redemptive West,” Huntington Library, 2005;
Research Grants (2), Rockefeller Archive Center, 2000-2001 and 2002-3;
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship, 1999-2002.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, California State University, Northridge, Fall, 2003-Spring, 2007.

Personal Anecdote

In less than a week, I was set to give my first-ever conference paper, before the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History. A very generous friend who was already out of graduate school and teaching had made room for me on a panel devoted to exploring the implications of Richard White’s important 1994 essay, “‘Are You an Environmentalist, or Do You Work for a Living?'” The conference organizers had slated the session for a room that sat at least a hundred, not because anyone wanted to hear a Ph.D. candidate from Wisconsin blather on about coal-mine explosions, but instead because my fellow panelists were fast making names for themselves. More important still, Richard White had kindly agreed to comment on the papers.

White’s “Are You an Environmentalist” had grabbed me the first time I read it (it has yet to let me go). I found myself deeply persuaded by White’s central claim: that environmental historians can learn a lot by taking seriously work and those who perform it. The piece taught me the best kind of truth–a simple truth of seemingly boundless explanatory power: Labor, White reminds us, has always encompassed many of the core practices through which human beings have arrived at a knowledge of nature.

I don’t know what they put in the Koolaid that I imbibed in seminar at Wisconsin, but like most graduate students there and elsewhere, my way of paying homage to the profound influence White’s essay had had upon me (and, for that matter, the impact that his whole corpus of scholarship had made upon me since I first encountered The Middle Ground as an undergraduate) was to lash out with that peculiar brand of Oedipal rage that combines the worst aspects of adolescent impudence and twenty-something earnestness. In the months leading up to the ASEH, I must have read “Are You an Environmentalist” at least six times, each time slicing and dicing the essay with my critical knives sharpened to a razor’s edge. My near-compulsive re-reading had filled me with unwarranted confidence. I told myself that I had found every weakness, every contradiction, every leap of logic, every hole in White’s argument.

I could not wait to tell the assembled lights of my discipline about all the things White had gotten wrong. I envisioned myself delivering a devastating critique; I imagined the verbal combat that would ensue as White, one of the greatest historians of his generation in my estimation (a conviction that I hold even more strongly today) devoted his comment to parrying my attack.

Those who have seen Richard White engage in debate will understand why this thought was not entirely comforting. At the first historical conference I had ever attended, in fact, I had watched White pretty much eviscerate two junior scholars when they tried a stunt very similar to the one I was plotting. I attempted with little success to maintain my confidence. I told myself that I was smarter than the pair I had seen White tear up. Besides, my critique was as persuasive and elegant as theirs had been tendentious and awkward.

Doubt, thank goodness, remained. I sent my advisor, Bill Cronon, a draft of the diatribe I had assembled. Bill gave me very clear and direct advice: Don’t be an idiot. File the paper away and write a new one that focused instead on presenting my own research findings.

Part of me evidently had a death wish and welcomed the heady risk of committing career suicide at such an early stage. That part of me felt censored by Bill and frustrated at the ways in which professionalism seemed to constrain intellectual exchange within the academy.

But overwhelming the compulsions seeking to push me to the edge were cooler, more cautious impulses. And so I pulled back to deliver an altogether safer paper. Bill had averted my juvenile plan. In the process, he spared Richard White the trouble of deciding whether to give me the dressing-down that I deserved, or to look graciously away from my impertinence.

If one of my own students were to concoct a similar stunt, I would undoubtedly provide the same advice. For all this, though, I can’t help feeling a little uncomfortable with the hard lessons this incident imparted-that our profession is inextricably hierarchical in nature, that some historians are simply smarter and more highly-skilled than others, that what I can do and how I can do it depends at least to some extent on how well I know and keep to my place.

With apologies to Borges, I had always imagined academe as a sort of paradise. This was an unusually outrageous delusion on my part; as an academic brat, tales of departmental infighting, administrative folly, and student futility were nightly topics of conversation at the family dinner table. Choosing to hold my fire against Richard White turned out to be a critical first step in my discovery that the historical discipline can offer no real place of grace, no true escape, from the world as it is–not a happy discovery, I know, but perhaps a necessary one.


By Thomas G. Andrews

  • Almost a century later, evocations of Ludlow still hew to the same story lines established as the fighting unfolded. The view of the Colorado coalfield war that has become the consensus is that workers were striking simply Killing for Coal America's Deadliest Labor War JPGto achieve basic freedoms. Even though the miners suffered a crushing defeat, the blood sacrifices of Ludlow’s martyrs prompted Rockefeller and his fellow capitalists to mend their ways and set American business on the path toward today’s more enlightened labor relations. A Works Project Administration guidebook summarized this interpretation. Ludlow, New Deal authors argued, “aroused public opinion and brought about improvement of working conditions and civil liberties in the coal camps.” Like most tales of the bad old days, such stories chart a narrative of progress. From this starting point, it becomes simply a matter of emphasis and tone to elicit either complacence or alarm or lest we go back to the dark ages when big business reigned supreme and government forces served as the mailed fist of concentrated capital. — Thomas Andrews in “Killing for Coal America’s Deadliest Labor War”
  • “This truly is the highest honor that professional historians bestow upon a work in U.S. history. I imagined that I’d spend my entire career pursuing this goal without ever achieving it and I’m simply tickled to be in such incredible company.
    I’m a Colorado native, but I never knew anything about Ludlow until I was in graduate school. When I first learned about the massacre, I was appalled that such killing had occurred and I was drawn to the opportunity it provided to bring together a much bigger set of stories: about the deep-seated dependence of westerners on fossil fuels, about the coal mines that generated so much conflict in southern Colorado, and about the men, women, and children who came from around the world to work in and around the mines.
    Receiving the Bancroft is the greatest validation I could have ever imagined.” — Thomas Andrews on winning the Bancroft Prize for “Killing for Coal America’s Deadliest Labor War”

About Thomas G. Andrews

  • “The Ludlow Massacre of 1914 has long been known as one of the most notorious events in all of American labor history, but until the publication of Killing for Coal, it was still possible to see this slaughter simply as an episode in the history of American industrial violence. In Thomas Andrews’s skilled hands, it becomes something much subtler, more complicated, and revealing: a window onto the profound transformation of work and environment that occurred on the Western mining frontier in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Anyone interested in the history of labor, the environment, and the American West will want to read this book.” — William Cronon, author of “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West”
  • Killing for Coal is a stunning achievement. Beautifully written and masterfully researched, it stands as the definitive history of the dramatic events at Ludlow and breaks new ground in our understanding of industrialization and the environment. If I were to pick one word to describe this book, I would say, “powerful.”” — Kathryn Morse, author of “The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush”
  • “Killing for Coal arises from the rare and providential convergence of an extraordinary author and an extraordinary topic. With a perfect instinct for the telling detail, Thomas Andrews wields a matching talent for conveying, in crystal-clear prose, the deepest meanings of history. This is, in every sense, an illuminating book, shining light into a dark terrain of the American past and of the human soul.” — Patricia Nelson Limerick, author of “The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West”
  • “A groundbreaking work about coal and coal development, labor relations and class conflict.” — Sandra Dallas, Denver Post
  • “Thomas G. Andrews’ Killing for Coal offers an intriguing analysis of the so-called Ludlow Massacre of April 20, 1914, a watershed event in American labor history that he illuminates with a new understanding of the complexity of this conflict…Killing for Coal distinguishes itself from conventional labor histories, by going beyond sociological factors to look at the total physical environment–what Andrews calls the “workscape”–and the role it played in the lives of both labor and management…In its deft marriage of natural and social history, Killing for Coal sets a new standard for how the history of industry can and should be written.” — Emily F. Popek, Pop Matters
  • “A stunning debut, full of insight into the role of labor and class not just in southern Colorado, but across the country.” — Denver Westword
  • “Andrews brings a 21st-century approach to this once-troubled landscape where the region’s voracious need for fuel trumped the rights and independence of the men who dragged it out of the ground.” — Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • “Killing for Coal is far more than a blow-by-blow account of America’s deadliest labor war. It is an environmental history that seeks to explain strike violence as the natural excretion of an industry that brutalized the earth and the men who worked beneath it. Andrews is one of the excellent young scholars who have given new life to the field of labor and working-class studies by introducing new questions about race and gender, ethnicity and nationality, and new insights drawn from anthropology and physical geography…Andrews deserves credit for writing one of the best books ever published on the mining industry and its environmental impact and for drawing more public attention to the Ludlow story and its significance.” — James Green, Dissent
  • “Andrews does an excellent job of placing the massacre in the larger context of both previous labor strife in the area and the violent reprisals that armed bands of miners launched on mine owners, strikebreakers, and militia men in response to the deaths at Ludlow. One of the great strengths of Andrews’s account is his integration of environmental history into his narrative at all levels, and not just as an afterthought. The book is as much a history of coal, coal mining, and the reshaping of Colorado’s environment as it is a history of the Great Coalfield War of 1914.” — A. M. Berkowitz, Choice

Posted on Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Top Young Historians: 110 – Daniel J. Sargent


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

110: Daniel J. Sargent, 7-5-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
Area of Research: Modern American History, American foreign policy
Education: Doctor of Philosophy, History, Harvard University, 2008
Major Publications: Sargent is the author of A Superpower Transformed: Globalization and the Crisis of American Foreign Policy in the 1970s (Oxford University Press: Forthcoming). Daniel J. Sargent JPGSargent is an editor of Shock of the Global: The 1970s In Perspective, co-edited with Niall Ferguson, Charles Maier, Erez Manela (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010).
Sargent is also the author of scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“The United States and Globalization,” in Shock of the Global: The International History of the 1970s, edited by Ferguson et. al. (Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 2010).
Awards: Sargent is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Weatherhead Center for International Affairs , Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2006-07;
Olin Institute for Strategic Studies , Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in National Security Studies, 2005-06;
Harvard University, Certificate of Distinction in Teaching (Awarded 3 times, 2003-04, 2004-05).
Additional Info:
Taught at Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2007-2008, Henry Chauncey Jr. ’57 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Personal Anecdote

Earlier this year, I found myself in San Francisco General Hospital after an athletic accident shattered my left acetabulum. An immobile week in hospital gave me plenty of time to mull my first surgical experience and to reflect on the choices that had brought me here: choices that — by the happenstance that looks in retrospect like fate — had carried me to a fast and risky stretch of sidewalk in Berkeley.

If truth be told, my doctors intimidated me. Here they were, a group of experts whose competencies complemented each other perfectly: from the nurses and radiologists to the anesthesiologist and the orthopedic surgeon who specialized in pelvic fractures. As my fears about surgery mellowed in the glow of their expertise, I wondered what I — a putative knowledge professional myself — had accomplished by comparison? Did my credentials — a PhD in international history — accredit me as an expert on a par with these men and women? Did I, by comparison with them, know anything that really mattered?

As I pondered, I came to the conclusion that historians may be somewhat anomalous among the ranks of the gowned and capped. In my own work at least, I am more a generalist than specialist, and I imagine that the same could be said about many of us. By comparison with the surgeon or the scientist, the historian knows a little about a lot of things; knowledge in breadth, not in depth, is our stock in trade. But this, I concluded, can serve a valuable purpose.

What I have tried to do in my own work, I suppose, is to think about how the pieces of the past might constitute larger frameworks of causation and meaning. In my book manuscript, for example, I ask how the acceleration of globalization contributed to both an apparent crisis of American power in the 1970s and to its surprising revival thereafter. This question has drawn me into a variety of specialist topics, ranging from monetary economics to human rights law. I could not claim real expertise in any of them — not by the standards of the economist or the lawyer. What I have tried to do as a historian is to learn enough to be able to relate the particular to the general, to see the fragments as part of a larger whole.

This, I think, may be the real genius of our profession. The past, especially the recent past, is too vast to permit scholars to acquire a scientific understanding of it. What we do instead is to become adept at navigating its patterns, at distilling understanding from complexity. This may make historians somewhat anomalous in a knowledge economy in which specialization remains the order of the day. (For proof of this, spend a week in the hospital.)

Yet it may be that the historian’s willingness to synthesize complexity and to think broadly distinguishes us in useful ways from our colleagues in medicine and the sciences. After all, conversation in the public square is too often denuded of context, complexity, and all sense of possible consequences. The historian’s sensibility may have value even outside of the academy, as a corrective to the pervasive short-termism that marks our times and our politics. I certainly hope so, although I’ll be sticking with the medical specialists for my health care!


By Daniel J. Sargent

“In view of the indifference with which American policy makers engaged globalization in the 1970s, its consequences for the United States in the decades that followed would be serendipitous. As it had in the last third of the nineteenth century, globalization in the late twentieth century fostered a nurturing international environment for the United States. Thanks to expanding global capital markets, the U.S. in the 1980s would be able to draw on the savings of foreigners to sustain its deficits and defense expenditures. The emergence of human rights as an urgent issue reinvigorated America’s ideological mission in the Cold War. And if the West experienced the birth pangs of globalization in the 1970s, the consequences for the Eastern Bloc (excepting China) in the 1980s would be catastrophic. Globalization played to American strengths. With their orientation towards limited government and entrepreneurial capitalism, their belief in the universal applicability of their culture and values, and their stubborn conviction in human freedom as history’s meta-story, Americans were uniquely positioned to become the hub of an interdependent world-civilization. The Soviet Union, by contrast, could hardly have been worse equipped to compete in an integrating world. If the USSR had been a powerful adversary in an age of steel, industrial planning, and workers’ solidarity, it could not easily adapt to a world of microprocessors, information capitalism, and Amnesty International. Indeed, Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts in the 1980s to drag the Soviet system out of isolation and towards participation in an interdependent world led ultimately to the system’s collapse. The Cold War’s endgame – and the United States’ emergence as the world’s sole superpower – thus need to be understood in terms of the changes that globalization wrought upon the international system in the late twentieth century.” — Daniel J. Sargent in “A Superpower Transformed: Globalization and the Crisis of American Foreign Policy in the 1970s” (Oxford University Press: Forthcoming).About Daniel J. Sargent

  • “An illuminating book that provides a new way to look at the international history of the 1970s. It redirects our Shock of the Global: The 1970s In Perspective JPGattention away from the familiar narrative and instead places the decade in a new perspective that allows us to evaluate longer-term trends, including the evolution of global society, the dynamics of the international economy, the breakup of colonial empires, the impact of popular culture, and the declining realm for autonomous national choices. This superb work will be greeted with enthusiasm.” — Melvyn P. Leffler, author of “For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War”
  • “This volume is remarkable for uniformly strong essays and the cohesiveness of its argument that the 1970s were a distinctive era, and that the key to understanding the decade is the concept of globalization. Thought-provoking and consistently interesting, this book should have a very broad audience among both scholars and general readers alike.” — Thomas Alan Schwartz, author of “Lyndon Johnson and Europe”
  • “A stellar group of authors tackles the transformation of the world in the 1970s, showing how the decade should be seen as ushering in the contemporary global age. Ranging from the end of U.S. economic hegemony to the rise of environmentalism, from the rise of China to the growing influence of Islam, from transnational business transactions to human rights, this book carefully examines the ‘shock’ of globalization and makes a major contribution to international history.” — Akira Iriye, author of China and Japan in the Global Setting
  • “[A] masterful book.” — Michael Casey, Irish Times
  • “A serious and impressive in-depth study of an unjustly neglected decade.” — Bill Perrett, The Age
  • “Sargent is an amazing teacher… very very good class. I’M A TRANSFER STUDENT AND ENJOYED HIS CLASS!”…
    “Professor Sargent is extremely helpful and knowledgeable about U.S. foreign policy…. He is fair and does not force his point of view on the students. He knows the subject very well so you can go to him for any question.”…
    “Intelligent, kind, helpful and very informative. Makes a concerted effort to meet the needs of his students, which makes the class fairly easy. Very accessible and easy to talk to in office hours. He’s definitely an expert in international and global history. I highly recommend him to history majors.”…. — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Top Young Historians: 109 – Bethany Moreton, 39


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

109: Bethany Moreton, 6-28-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and the History of Christianity Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, 2010-2011
Area of Research: History of capitalism, the twentieth-century cultural and religious history of the United States, and transnational history
Education: Ph.D. 2006, (M.A., M. Phil.) U.S. History, Yale University
Dissertation: “The Soul of the Service Economy: Wal-Mart and the Making of Christian Free Enterprise, 1929-1994,” under the direction of Glenda E. Gilmore.
Major Publications: Moreton is the author of Book: To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, May 2009). Winner, Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians, April, 2010. Bethany Moreton JPG

Moreton is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Why Is There So Much Sex in Christian Conservatism and Why Do So Few Historians Care Anything about It?” Journal of Southern History 75th anniversary issue, v. 75, no. 3 (August, 2009); “Make Payroll, Not War: Business Culture as Youth Culture,” in Bruce Schulman and Julian Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008); “The Soul of the Service Economy: Wal-Mart and the Making of Christian Free Enterprise, 1929-1994,” Enterprise & Society 8:4 (December, 2007); “The Soul of Neoliberalism,” Social Text v. 25, no. 3 92 (Fall 2007), pp. 103-123; co-authored with Pamela Voekel: “Vaya con Dios: Religion and the Transnational History of the Americas,” History Compass, Summer 2007; “It Came from Bentonville: The Agrarian Origins of Wal-Mart Culture” in Nelson Lichtenstein, ed., Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism (New Press, 2005).
Moreton is currently working on the tentively titled manuscript “Spiritual Development: Neoliberalism and Transnational Religion”.
Awards: Moreton is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Emerging Scholar’s Prize Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, April, 2009;
Junior Faculty Fellowship Willson Center for the Humanities, University of Georgia, for fall semester 2009;
Visiting Scholar Fellowship American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2006-2007;
Charlotte F. Newcombe Fellowship Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 2005-2006;
Dissertation Fellowship for the Study of American Religion Louisville Institute, 2004-2005;
Program on Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Sector Fellowship Social Science Research Council, 2004;
Program on the Corporation as a Social Institution Fellowship Social Science Research Council, 2003;
Myrna F. Bernath Fellowship Award Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2003;
Dissertation Research Grant Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 2003;
Coca-Cola World Fund at Yale Summer Travel Grant Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 2003;
Mellon Research Seminar Fellowship in Women’s and Gender History Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, 2002.

Personal Anecdote

My first act of research for To Serve God and Wal-Mart was shoveling fossilized chicken droppings out of a defunct coop on a goat farm in Northwest Arkansas. The farm’s owners, friends of my favorite agrarian Jim Scott, evidently took my willingness to pick up a shovel as a character reference, and lost no time making me feel at home in Wal-Mart’s backyard. Since we have no Freedom of Information Act for the state-supported institutions we somewhat inaccurately call private corporations, the research could only go so far by relying on formal archives. It was only through the generosity of my hosts in the Ozarks-the original Wal-Mart Country–that I was able to learn to explore how “Wal-Martism” might fill the conceptual hole in the middle of “post-Fordism.” If the Detroit auto industry had set the pattern for the first half of the twentieth century-in spatial organization, labor arrangements, finance, family formation, ideology, immigration, art-then surely its successor was a likely site for understanding major developments of the post-war years.

When Wal-Mart beat out Exxon-Mobil to become the world’s largest company in 2002, what we knew that the first service company to make it to the top of the Fortune 400 was what astute business journalists like Bob Ortega had been telling us since the early 1990s: Wal-Mart had remade retail by achieving such market dominance that it could dictate its terms to the suppliers rather than the other way around. At the fringes of this narrative were the voices of historic preservationists and organized labor, finally roused by the Arkansas company’s disruptive penetration of Vermont, Chicago, and Southern California. The reigning questions about the new top multinational were often variations on “Wow–how did Wal-Mart do it?” or “Is Wal-Mart good for America?”

While my 2002 dissertation prospectus referenced this literature, though, it also included chapter proposals that ultimately allowed me to explore a question I found much more interesting, the one that Thomas Frank revived from the original Populist mobilization: “What’s the matter with Kansas?” -understood now as “Why have Americans on the losing end of the deregulated, off-shored service economy enabled it politically for more than a generation?” To Serve God and Wal-Mart is therefore not so much a book about Wal-Mart as an account of the anointing of free enterprise, the unlikely legitimation of neoliberal economics through evangelical religion. It tells this story through the twinned biographies of the world’s largest company and the ideological apparatus it nurtured. It argues that this specific experience of mass service work transformed economic common sense and infused it with evangelical values at precisely the moment that federal redistribution catapulted the Sun Belt to its position of decisive influence within the nation. That moment of waxing power for the old agricultural periphery coincided with American-led economic integration, so that the ethos of Christian free enterprise-the odd pairing of Jerry Falwell and Milton Friedman, so to speak-gave late twentieth-century globalization some of its most distinctive characteristics. Ultimately I join writers like Janet Jakobsen, Ann Pellegrini, Lisa Duggan, Tanya Erzen, and Linda Kintz in arguing that the Left’s frustration with the “culture wars” misreads the necessary connection between conservative sexual mores and the post-1973 economy that Wal-Mart ultimately dominated.

That I got to learn about this complex relationship while living in the Ozarks, knee-deep in chicken droppings, was my good fortune.


By Bethany Moreton

  • “For the emerging Wal-Mart constituency, faith in God and faith in the market grew in tandem, aided by a generous government and an organized, corporate-funded grassroots movement for Christian free enterprise. Ultimately, they  JPGhelped shape American-led globalization itself. The postindustrial society grew from a specific regional history an the heritage of Populism. It was built in the aisles and break rooms of Southern discount stores, in small-group Bible study and vast Sunday-morning worship services. It spread through the marketing classes and mission trips of Christian colleges, through student business clubs and service projects. Although free-market economic theories captured the hearts and minds of elite policymakers in the later twentieth century, the animatig spirit of Christian free enterprise shaped the outcome. The Wal-Mart Moms understood better than their critics: Family values are an indispensable element of the global service economy, not a distraction from it.” — Bethany Moreton in “To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009)

About Bethany Moreton

  • “Moreton’s work is a model of public scholarship in the humanities, rigorous, sympathetic to individual stories, wonderfully written, combining attention to individual story with command of the complex intersection of corporate culture and religious practice. It provides insight into one of the most prevalent, and inscrutable, features of American society today. — Kathy Woodward, Director of the Simpson Humanities Center at the University of Washington, Emerging Scholar’s Prize Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, April, 2009
  • “Moreton charts the fortunes of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation, and analyses its collusion with the evangelical Christian movement. Hers is a thought-provoking general account of the effect “a Christian service ethos” has on American attitudes towards the free market.” — New Statesman
  • “This is a history in equal parts of Wal-Mart and the world that Wal-Mart has made…Moreton reveals Wal-Mart’s extraordinary capacity to develop cultural solutions for the very crises that its business model produced. Her prose is extraordinarily lucid and often provocative, and presents the subject in a manner that will hold interest for both scholars and general readers…To Serve God and Wal-Mart should become a standard text in business history courses, and deserves to be widely assigned–in whole or in part–in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of the twentieth-century United States…In performing a deliberate inversion of more conventional approaches to business history, To Serve God and Wal-Mart greatly enriches our understanding of both Wal-Mart and the Sun Belt service economy.” — “Angus Burgin, Enterprise and Society”
  • “Essential reading for understanding not just Wal-Mart, but also America’s general political and economic trajectory.” — David Moberg, “In These Times”
  • “Full of detailed and important information and gives a very good insight as to how the sunbelt states set about their development after the second World War…For those interested in the Southern Christian psyche it’s a valuable reference.” — Noel Smyth, “Irish Times”
  • “[A] deeply researched account of the ideological underpinnings of the company’s rise…[It] makes for compelling and provocative reading, complicating any simplistic view about why many Americans are enthusiastic about Wal-Mart, even as it seems to grind down wages, stamp out unions, advance a desolate model of exurban life, and eviscerate the small towns in its path.” — Rob Horning,
  • “Much of what we learn from Moreton’s book…raises serious doubts about whether the corporation’s influence has been positive on balance. But in the process of describing the downside of Wal-Mart, [she] offers penetrating insights into why the chain has been so phenomenally successful…Moreton offers a gracefully written and meticulously researched account of why people not only have been willing to work for the company, but often have also developed fierce loyalty to it…Economists have long recognized the attractions of flexible working arrangements to some segments of the labor force. But Moreton also offers more novel observations about the lure of Wal-Mart. She explains, for example, how the company invoked the fundamentalist Christian teachings embraced by many of its employees to fashion a working environment that induced them to work contentedly for low wages and paltry benefits…Moreton argues that Walton and his fellow executives quickly recognized the economic advantage of weaving specific strands of the Ozark region’s fundamentalist belief system into their corporate strategy… Moreton’s book answers important questions about why workers have been willing to accept Wal-Mart’s austere compensation package.” — Robert Frank, “New York Times Book Review”
  • “Walton made the cheerful, down-home, everyone-pulling-together family-farm values of his early frontline retail workers a hallmark of his emerging behemoth while earning their loyalty through policies, like flexible scheduling, that respected their “home duties.”…To understand the lingua franca of today’s workplace–with its talk of networking, entrepreneurialism, leadership, community service, and, above all, PR and communications–this book is indispensable reading. After all, we all live in Wal-Mart World now.” — Catherine Tumber, “Boston Phoenix”
  • “Bethany Moreton’s pathbreaking study, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise is an invaluable asset for apprehending how we got here. Her new book chronicles Wal-Mart’s role in mainstreaming evangelical and free market values even as it became the world’s largest public corporation and the nation’s biggest private employer. A critical appraisal of how religion, politics and economics were interwoven in post- Vietnam American culture and society, To Serve God and Wal-Mart is also a bracing reminder that we, among the most materialistic people in the world, have turned a blind eye to the impact of material conditions on our actions, attitudes and beliefs.” — Diane Winston, Religion Dispatches
  • “[A] probing and nuanced study of the latter-day evangelical romance with free-market capitalism…Wal-Mart’s folksy illusion relied in part on making store workers feel like family; in particular, on making female workers feel valued as wives and mothers. Moreton does an excellent job of digging beneath Wal-Mart’s carefully imagineered vision of the rural good life. She not only recounts labor abuses such as the company’s notorious failure to promote and reward women but also stresses how the company appealed to white Americans’ feelings of entitlement…Its workers and the customers they served–often “friends, neighbors, and loved ones”–were the same: white Ozarkers nostalgic for a wholesome, more homogeneous, and largely imaginary yesteryear, for a past in which the best opportunities were reserved for people like them.” — Maud Newton, “Bookforum”
  • “Like all historians who love their craft, Bethany Moreton is a gifted storyteller, and this book offers readers an engaging account of how a discount five-and-dime store conceived in the rural American Ozarks became the template for service work in the global economy…[An] impeccably documented and eloquently argued narrative, which will interest historians, sociologists and general readers…Her most significant contribution is to offer an explanation of the paradox that political pundits have pondered in recent years: why many middle Americans prioritize conservative social issues ahead of government policies that would presumably be in their economic self-interest. Moreton’s careful, sometimes wry historical analysis demonstrates that when “values voters”–with many Wal-Mart workers surely among them–eschew economic benefits such as unionization, they do so out of allegiance to a radically new set of moral market priorities. The subjugation of the self to the global corporation, ironically, embraces a deeper set of ideals about the supremacy of family, the morality of self-reliance and the evangelical justification of free enterprise. To Serve God and Wal-Mart shows just how deeply entrenched these ideals are in the world’s largest retailer, offering an intimate portrait of both the contradictions and conquests of the new service economy.” — Rebekah Peeples Massengill, Times Higher Education
  • “Moreton unearths the roots of the seeming anomaly of “corporate populism,” in a timely and penetrating analysis that situates the rise of Wal-Mart in a postwar confluence of forces, from federal redistribution of capital favoring the rural South and West to the “family values” symbolized by Sam Walton’s largely white, rural, female workforce (the basis of a new economic and ideological niche), the New Christian Right’s powerful probusiness and countercultural movement of the 1970s and ’80s and its harnessing of electoral power. Giving Max Weber’s “Protestant ethic” something of a late-20th-century update, Moreton shows how this confluence wedded Christianity to the free market. Moreton’s erudition and clear prose elucidate much in the area of recent labor and political history, while capturing the centrality of movement cultures in the evolving face of American populism.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “Fascinating…With verve and clarity, Moreton offers something more distinctive: a compelling explanation of how Wal-Mart captured the hearts and pocketbooks of so many Americans.” — Steven P. Miller, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch”
  • “Dr. Moreton make students see strengths within themselves, she inspires and empowers women through knowledge and action. No one else could ever be a more effective teacher than she. She is truly a gift to students and the academy as a whole.”…
    “Dr. Moreton has the unique ability to present material in a highly intellectual way that everyone can grasp.”…
    “Moreton has the power to comfortably accomodate, yet critically challenge all students. Her lectures are my favorite; they are always well-prepared, brilliantly articulated, intellectually stimulating, and very exciting. She also facilitates powerful discussions among students; she asks the right questions.”…
    “I always leave Dr. Moreton’s classes as a better writer than I was before. Her deep discussions into the core of the subject matter encourage and empower students to argue a thoroughly well-written paper. Dr. Moreton offers extensive (positive) criticism and help to improve any student’s writing. Also, she challenges me on a greater intellectual level than any other professor.”…
    “Dr. Moreton’s material for the class was the most challenging material I have come across in both of my fields of study. Dr. Moreton forced me to think of things that in the past I ran from and for that I am FOREVER grateful to Dr. Moreton. Dr. Moreton’s intelligence, passion, patience, and high standards for student performance EMBOLDENED my ability to take on intellectual challenges that first seem impossible.”…
    “Dr. Moreton is one of the most inspirational instructors that I have had at the University. Her passion for her students and unlimited knowledge provided for an amazing classroom environment.”…
    “This class was one of the few at UGA that gave me not only new information or facts, but new concepts.” – — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Top Young Historians: 108 – François Furstenberg


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

108: François Furstenberg, 6-21-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation Chair in American Studies, Université de Montréal.
Area of Research: U.S. and comparative nationalism, Political ideologies, The French Atlantic World, c. 1790-1820, Slavery and Society, c. 1770-1860
Education: Ph.D., History, Johns Hopkins University (2003); B.A., Columbia University (1994).
Major Publications: Furstenberg is the author of In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, Penguin Press, 2006, Audio book François Furstenberg JPGedition, Tantor audio, 2006,Paperback edition, Penguin Books, 2007, a Finalist for the Washington Book Prize, and a “Starred Review,” Publisher’s Weekly. Furstenberg is an editor with Carolyn Fick, La construction de la nation haïtienne après la Révolution. Under contract with CIDIHCA Press, 2010, and the upcoming George Washington and the American Nation: A Brief History with Documents. The Bedford Series in History and Culture. Under Contract with Bedford/ St. Martin’s Press, for publication in 2011.
Furstenberg is currently working on When the United States Spoke French: French Émigrés, Land, and Empire in the Age of Revolutions. Under contract with Penguin Press, for publication in 2012/2013.
Furstenberg is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“Atlantic Slavery, Atlantic Freedom: George Washington’s Library, Slavery, and Trans-Atlantic Abolitionist Networks,” William and Mary Quarterly, forthcoming, October 2010; “The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History, c. 1754-1815,” The American Historical Review, 113:2 (June, 2008), 647-677, Winner of the Ray Allen Billington Award, Western Historical Association, for the best article on Western history; “Beyond Slavery and Freedom: Autonomy, Agency, and Resistance in Early American Political Discourse.” The Journal of American History 89:4 (March, 2003), 1295-1330, Winner of the ABC-CLIO: America: History and Life Award, for scholarship in American history advancing new perspectives on accepted interpretations or previously unconsidered topics.
Awards: Furstenberg is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Principal Investigator, “When the United States spoke French: Trans-Atlantic commerce, finance, and land speculation in the age of revolutions,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2010-2013;
Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, The New York Public Library (Gilder Lehrman Fellow) 2009-2010;
Co-Investigator, “French Atlantic Studies” (with a group of scholars from Université de Montréal and McGill University), The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2006-2009;
Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2008;
Principal Investigator, “French Atlantic World and the Creation of the American Republic, 1789-1803,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program, 2005-2008;
Principal Investigator, “Les émigrés français aux États-Unis et la transformation politique, économique, et diplomatique de la jeune république américaine, 1789-1803,” Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, Québec, Établissement de nouveau professeurs-chercheurs, 2005-2008;
Program in Early American Economy and Society postdoctoral fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2005;
Principal Investigator, “Entangling Alliances: Philadelphia’s International Revolutionary Networks and the Creation of Early American Political Culture,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and l’Université de Montréal, Petite subvention/ Start-up Research Grant, 2004-2005;
Delmas Fellowship, The New-York Historical Society, 2001;
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2001;
Johns Hopkins Dean’s Fellowship, 2001;
Fellowship for graduate study, The Johns Hopkins University, 1998-2002;
Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, Columbia University, 1997-1998;
Jacob Javits Fellowship, United States Department of Education, 1997-2001.

Additional Info:
Furstenberg formerly was a Visiting Professor, Université de Paris VII-Denis Diderot, and Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College, Cambridge University.
Furstenberg hasalso contributed to the New York Times, and Baltimore Sun, and has given commentary on CBC Radio, Radio Canada Première Chaîne, and LCI/ TVA Television.

Personal Anecdote

My grandfather on my mother’s side, Félix-Paul Codaccioni, was an historian. He taught in high schools in France for many years and then, when he completed his monumental thèse d’état, a two-volume work on the working class of Lille, an industrial city in the north of France where he had settled with his family, he began teaching at the University. For my grandfather, as for many Corsicans starting with his own father, education was road out of the grinding poverty of the rural peasantry; educational achievement was probably the single most important value for him.

I grew up in the United States and only saw my grandfather every other year, when the family went to Corsica on vacation. (As a teacher, he was able to spend the summers in his ancestral home in a small village in the mountains there). No doubt misinterpreting my awkward shyness as intellectual profundity, he imagined I was interested in school and so he would, on occasion, try to mentor me. I have vivid memories of the two of us in the middle of the afternoon on the house’s balcony, me sitting on an uncomfortable chair facing my grandfather, my eyes stinging from the blinding white sun, sweating and miserable, as he droned on and on about Hegel’s dialectic-thèse, antithèse, synthèse… thèse, antithèse, synthèse-while I listened despondently to the other kids playing in the village, blissfully unaware of nineteenth-century German philosophy.

I wish I could say it was he who inspired me to become an historian, but I think the truth is probably more complicated. Other, more powerful and direct influences intervened in college and graduate school to shape my professional choices and intellectual interests. What is strangely true, however, is that I seem to have lived the life that he imagined for himself.

My grandfather always dreamed of moving to Canada. I have no idea why. Certainly he wasn’t enamored of the cold. I think it must have been the scale that caught his imagination: of the forests and mountains and lakes and rivers, and the great Saint Laurent in particular, all of it so different from the smallness and cramped life of postwar Europe in general and of arid Corsica in particular. My grandmother wouldn’t hear of moving to Canada, however, and so they never got further than the north of France.

I, on the other hand, not only became a university professor of history, but went on to get a job teaching in French in Québec: exactly the life my grandfather would have chosen had if he had been able to follow through on his dreams. It is a curious fate for me; my education was in English in big-named American universities, and like most Americans I never gave Canada the slightest though-until I got a job and moved there. Historians as much as anyone else lack perspicacity when the benefits of distance and hindsight are absent, so I won’t even try to speculate about how it is that, without any conscious intent whatsoever, I fulfilled my grandfather’s dream.


By François Furstenberg

  • If George had intended the delay in abolition to spare Martha various “disagreeable consequences,” his hopes were not borne out. In fact, George’s will entailed consequences more burdensome and terrifying for Martha than anything he had anticipated.

    In the Name of the Father JPGMartha ultimately took it upon herself to free her husband’s slaves early: some two years before her own death. But it was not humanitarian reasons that drove this early emancipation, the existing evidence suggests she disapproved of freeing slaves, nor was it from the expense or difficulty involved in supporting² the slaves. It was out of fear. It was found necessary, reported Martha¹s grandson, to free the slaves for prudential reasons. Hidden in this circumlocution was the fact that George;s deathbed emancipation had put Martha¹s life in jeopardy. As she and the slaves all recognized, the longer she lived, the longer their bondage extended. “In the state in which they were left by the General,” wrote Adams, “she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, may of the [the slaves] would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her.” She therefore was advised to set them free at the close of the year.
    Martha Washington, first First Lady, wife of the father of the nation, lived her last days among hundreds of enslaved people she called family, people she believed would try to kill her. — François Furstenberg in “In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation”

  • Four hundred and eighty million years ago, there was no Atlantic Ocean. Africa, Europe, and North America were all connected. North America straddled the equator, and what is now the Atlantic coast lay under water. As the Earth’s tectonic plates collided in this period of intense geological activity, the African plate slamming into the North American plate, the ocean floor buckled, and great sheets of bedrock began slowly rising up in the air. Humans would one day call these the Appalachian Mountains. Over the millions of years that followed, slices of rock crumpled and were thrust miles into the sky as the Appalachians reached exalted heights, nearly as tall as the present-day Himalayas. Eventually the continents began to separate. Vast plains and mountain chains were torn asunder, and water poured into the breach: thus, some 220 million years ago, the Atlantic Ocean was formed. The new ocean separated not just the new continents, but the already ancient Appalachian Mountains themselves. They were, one might say, the first Atlantic crossing. — François Furstenberg in “The Significance of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier in Atlantic History, c. 1754-1815,” The American Historical Review, 113:2 (June, 2008)

About François Furstenberg

  • Starred Review. “How were the ideals that were articulated in America’s founding documents-freedom, democracy and government based on the consent of the governed-disseminated to the nation? That question animates this extraordinary new study by Furstenberg, an assistant professor of history at the Université de Montréal, which shows how popular print-broadsides, newspaper columns, schoolbooks, sermons-taught citizens “liberal and republican values,” and ultimately “create[d] a nation.” … In the deluge of founding father books, Furstenberg’s blend of high-brow intellectual history and popular culture studies stands out; rather than lionize Washington, it advances an important argument about his role in shaping American political identity.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “In the Name of the Father is an eminently readable and important book linking George Washington’s political philosophy in the early republic (and what others made of it), justifications for slavery, and the power of popular print culture in fashioning American nationalism…. This book is recommended reading for everyone concerned with slavery, racism, and American nationalism, as well as for students of American politics and of popular culture.” — Lorena Walsh, Journal of the Early Republic
  • “In this complex, smartly conceived volume, François Furstenberg offers an engaging reading of the early American republic. He links together, in a single interpretive structure, the emergence of an American nationalism centered on the cult of George Washington as the symbolic father of the country and of individual American lives; an individualism grounded in a Revolution-inspired belief in consent as the basis of liberty and the notion that personal autonomy is realizable only through purposeful rebellion against oppression; a continuing justification of slavery based on the perceived acceptance by blacks of their enslavement; and the pervasive power of popular, especially print, culture in inculcating those notions in the belief system of the American people… a novel and stimulating overview of the cultural politics of the early republic.” — John Howe, “Journal of American History”
  • “Drawing from recent scholarship on the history of the book and on nationalism, his analysis of ‘civic texts’ offers several new twists on the old debate about the relationship between liberalism and slavery in a nation ostensibly dedicated to individual autonomy.” — Scott Casper, “William and Mary Quarterly”
  • “Utilizing civic texts (including the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s farewell address), newspaper articles, and even paintings, he describes the slow but inexorable march toward a vision of what constituted an American identity. His treatment of slavery is particularly informative, as he asserts that the mental gymnastics required to reconcile slavery and republican principles would have devastating consequences.” — Jay Freeman, “Booklist”
  • “The verdict is in-Furstenberg has written a fine book… Sensible, readable, and artfully constructed, it traces the origins of Americans’ shared myths about their own nation.” — Benjamin Carp, “New England Quarterly”

Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Top Young Historians: 107 – Pekka Hämäläinen


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

107: Pekka Hämäläinen, 6-14-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara and Co-Director of Indigenous Studies Minor
Area of Research: U.S. History, Borderlands, Native American History
Education: Ph.D. in History, University of Helsinki, 2001
Major Publications: Hämäläinen is the author of The Comanche Empire, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Paperback in 2009. Awarded the Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University. Winner ofPekka Hämäläinen JPGBancroft Prize, Merle Curti Award, Caughey Western History Association Prize, Norris and Carol Hundley Award, William P. Clements Prize, Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit, and Kate Broocks Bates Award. ForeWord Magazine’s History Book of the Year. An alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, Book-of-the-Month Club 2, History Book Club, and Military Book Club. El imperio comanche. Translation of The Comanche Empire by Ricardo García. Peninsula Press, forthcoming 2010. He is currently working on The Shapes of Power: Frontiers, Borderlands, Middle Grounds, and Empires of North America, 1600-1900. Under contract with Yale University Press.
Hämäläinen is the editor of When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, ed. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press,2006, and currently working on Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. with Benjamin H. Johnson. Under contract with Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hämäläinen is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Into the Mainstream: The Rise of a New Texas Indian History,” in Beyond Texas through Time: Evolving Interpretations, ed. Walter Buenger and Arnoldo DeLeon. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, forthcoming; “The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Southwest Borderlands,” William and Mary Quarterly 67 (April 2010), 173-208. Reprinted in Major Problems in North American Borderlands History, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen and Benjamin H. Johnson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, forthcoming; “Pathogens, Peoples, and the Paths of History,” in When Disease Makes History: Epidemics and Great Historical Turnings Points, 1-16, ed. Pekka Hämäläinen. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 2006; “The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures,” Journal of American History 90 (Dec. 2003), 833- 862. Winner of Arrell Morgan Gibson Award. Reprinted in American Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian Removal, 1500-1850, 361-92, ed. Peter C. Mancall and James H. Merrell. New York: Routledge, 2006; and The American Indian: Past and Present, 6th ed., 53-77, ed. Roger L. Nichols. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008; “The First Phase of Destruction: Killing the Southern Plains Buffalo, 1790-1840,” Great Plains Quarterly 21 (Spring 2001), 101-114; “Beyond the Ideology of Victimization: New Trends in the Study of Native American-Euroamerican Relations,” Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 26 (Oct. 2001), 45-49; “Of Lethal Places and Lethal Essays,” with John R. Wunder, American Historical Review 104 (Oct. 1999), 1229-1234; The Western Comanche Trade Center: Rethinking the Plains Indian Trade System,” Western Historical Quarterly 29 (Winter 1998), 485-513. Winner of Bert M. Fireman Prize. Reprinted in Major Problems in American Indian History, 238-257, ed. Albert Hurtado and Peter Iverson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001; “Hevosen leviäminen ja sen vaikutukset Pohjois-Amerikan tasangoilla sekä Länsi-Afrikan savanneilla” [The Spread and Influence of the Horse on the North American Great Plains and the Western African Savanna], with Pekka Masonen, Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 21 (1996), 31-41.
Awards: Hämäläinen is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2010-2012 (declined);
Institut d’Etudes Avancées in Nantes, 2010-2011;
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 2009-2010;
Turku Institute for Advanced Study, University of Turku, 2009-12 (declined);
Recognition of Excellence, Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University, 2009;
Bancroft Prize in American History, the Trustees of Columbia University, 2009;
Merle Curti Award for the best book on social and/or intellectual history, the Organization of American Historians, 2009;
Caughey Western History Association Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West, the Western History Association, 2009;
Norris and Carol Hundley Award for the most distinguished book on any historical subject, the American Historical Association Pacific Branch, 2009;
The William P. Clements Prize for the best non-fiction book on Southwestern America, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, 2008;
Great Plains Distinguished Book Award, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Great Plains Studies, 2009;
Award of Merit for the best fiction or non-fiction book on Texas, the Philosophical Society of Texas, 2009;
Kate Broocks Bates Award for the best book on Texas history prior to 1900, the Texas State Historical Association, 2008;
History Book of the Year, ForeWord Magazine, 2009;
Silver Medal, Independent Publisher Book Awards in History, 2009;
Honorable Mention, PROSE Award in U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography, Association of American Publishers, 2009;
Finalist for Carr P. Collins Award for the best book of non-fiction, the Texas Institute of Letters, 2009;
Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, 2009;
Arrell Morgan Gibson Award for the best essay on Native American history, the Western History Association, 2004;
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, 2003-2005;
Most Distinguished Dissertation of the Year (all disciplines), the University of Helsinki, 2002;
William P. Clements Center in Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 2001-2002;
Bert M. Fireman Prize for the best student essay published in the Western Historical Quarterly, the Western History Association, 1999;
Fulbright Fellowship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1995-1996.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University, 2002-2004.

Personal Anecdote

This happened many times in 2006 and 2007:

It is 2 AM, and I’m suddenly wide awake. I’ve had less than an hour of sleep, but the adrenaline jolt has eliminated any chance of getting more. I know the cause of my unwelcome alertness: panic. The writing is too slow, the tenure deadline is too soon, my kids are growing up too fast, and my insomnia is worse than ever. I suppress the urge to howl in frustration, and instead get dressed and leave the house. I walk the half-mile to the office, convinced that the night is ruined-as is the following day, which will find me exhausted and unable to think or write. I cling to the idea that if I get down just one half-decent sentence tonight, surely it must be better than nothing.

I ended up staying in the office for twenty hours, writing more than I had managed in weeks. I couldn’t count on this pattern, but it happened often enough for me to finish the book and become a professional historian. I found writing my first book-a book that I knew would be controversial-a dreadful and debilitating task, and I don’t think I would have made it without those moments when expectations and self-criticism were temporarily suspended. Most of the thinking and conceptualizing happened while I was busy with other things. They still do. I sleep better these nights, but getting anything worthwhile on paper still requires mind tricks; insights only come when I’m preoccupied with things-running, hanging out with the kids, cleaning the house-that seemingly have nothing to do with the job.

This, of course, is commonplace. Anyone who has tried to write on a sustained basis knows the workings of the subconscious. And they know that for mind tricks to work, they must catch one by surprise; they must be-or at least feel-thoroughly accidental. One can’t force them, or even be aware of them. One can only appreciate them in hindsight.

Like almost all my friends in academia, I wrote my first book slightly scared and enormously annoyed, thinking that there was little in the way of method to my madness. I’m glad that I didn’t realize at the time that I did have a method, all along.


By Pekka Hämäläinen

  • To understand the particular nature of Comanche imperialism, it is necessary to understand how Comanche ascendancy intertwined with other imperial expansions-New Spain’s tenacious if erratic northward thrust from central Mexico, New France’s endeavor to absorb the interior grasslands into its commercial realm, and the United States’ quest for a transcontinental empire. Comanches, to simplify a complex multistage process, developed aggressive power policies in reaction to Euro-American invasions that had threatened their safety and autonomy from the moment they had entered the southern plains. Indeed, the fact that Comanche territory, Comanchería, was encircled throughout its existence by Euro-American settler colonies makes the Comanches an unlikely candidate for achieving regional primacy. But as the Comanches grew in numbers and power, that geopolitical layout became the very foundation of The Comanche Empire JPGtheir dominance. Their overwhelming military force, so evident in their terror-inspiring mounted guerrilla attacks, would have allowed them to destroy many New Mexico and Texas settlements and drive most of the colonists out of their borders. Yet they never adopted such a policy of expulsion, preferring instead to have their borders lined with formally autonomous but economically subservient and dependent outposts that served as economic access points into the vast resources of the Spanish empire.
    The Comanches, then, were an imperial power with a difference: their aim was not to conquer and colonize, but to coexist, control, and exploit. Whereas more traditional imperial powers ruled by making things rigid and predictable, Comanches ruled by keeping them fluid and malleable. This informal, almost ambiguous nature of Comanches’ politics not only makes their empire difficult to define; it sometimes makes it difficult to see. New Mexico and Texas existed side by side with Comanchería throughout the colonial era, and though often suffering under Comanche pressure, the twin colonies endured, allowing Spain to claim sweeping imperial command over the Southwest. Yet when examined closely, Spain’s uncompromised imperial presence in the Southwest becomes a fiction that existed only in Spanish minds and on European maps, for Comanches controlled a large portion of those material things that could be controlled in New Mexico and Texas. The idea of land as a form of private, revenue-producing property was absent in Comanche culture, and livestock and slaves in a sense took the place of landed private property. This basic observation has enormous repercussions on how we should see the relationship between the Comanches and colonists. When Comanches subjected Texas and New Mexico to systematic raiding of horses, mules, and captives, draining wide sectors of those productive resources, they in effect turned the colonies into imperial possessions. That Spanish Texas and New Mexico remained unconquered by Comanches is not a historical fact; it is a matter of perspective. — Pekka Hamalainen in “The Comanche Empire” pp. 4-5.
  • “The rise of this Comanche-centric order and its ecological underpinnings illuminate the complex and unexpected ways in which transoceanic exchanges, biological encounters, and human ambition could intertwine to shape power relationships in early America. They form a counternarrative to conventional colonial histories by revealing a world where Indians benefited from Europe’s biological expansion, safeguarded their homelands by displacing ecological burdens on colonial realms, and debilitated European imperialism with imperial aspirations of their own. It is a counternarrative that expands the scope of indigenous agency from the social to the biological sphere because it shows how Indians could determine not only the human parameters of colonial encounters but also the ecological ones. As such it is a story that may help bridge the gap that separates the declensionist narratives of American Indian environmental history from the works that emphasize the resilience of indigenous polities and cultural forms. Native survival in colonial America was often a race against ecological degradation and the loss of land and its resources. As the rise of the Comanches shows, however, the outcomes of that contest could remain undetermined for a long time.” — Pekka Hämäläinen in “William and Mary Quarterly” (April 2010)

About Pekka Hämäläinen

  • “The Comanche Empire is a landmark study that will make readers see the history of southwestern America in an entirely new way.” — David J. Weber, author of “Bárbaros: Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment”
  • “This exhilarating book is not just a pleasure to read; important and challenging ideas circulate through it and compel attention. It is a nuanced account of the complex social, cultural, and biological interactions that the acquisition of the horse unleashed in North America, and a brilliant analysis of a Comanche social formation that dominated the Southern Plains. Parts of the book will be controversial, but the book as a whole is a tour de force.” — Richard White, author of “The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815”
  • “The Comanche Empire is an impressive achievement. That a major Native power emerged and dominated the interior of the continent compels a re-thinking of well worn narratives about colonial America and westward expansion, about the relative power of European and Native societies, and about the directions of change. The book makes a major contribution to Native American history and challenges our understanding of the ways in which American history unfolded.” — Colin G. Calloway, author of One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West before Lewis and Clark
  • “For many readers, [The Comanche Empire] will be an eye-opener because of its vigorously advanced argument that for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Comanches created a mid-continental empire that controlled the economy of a huge part of the West, turned the northern Spanish and Mexican territories into its colonial appendages, and dominated the geopolitics of the both the Republic of Texas and, for a time, the United States in their imperial designs on the Southwest. If you are unused to thinking of American Indians as having this kind of agency in western history, The Comanche Empire will rearrange the furniture in your head.” — Dan Flores, “Montana: The Magazine of Western History”
  • “Perhaps we can simply stipulate that The Comanche Empire is an exceptional book-in fact, one of the finest pieces of scholarship that I have read in years. . . . Hämäläinen has given us a closely argued, finely wrought, intensely challenging book.” — Joshua Piker, William and Mary Quarterly
  • “Cutting-edge revisionist western history. . . . Immensely informative, particularly about activities in the eighteenth century.” — Larry McMurtry, “The New York Review of Books”
  • “A fascinating new book, details [the Comanches] unusual and colorful history. . . . Hämäläinen writes well and his narrative has an infectious verve and flow. . . . His broad themes are never in doubt, and the evidence he marshals is both compelling and convincing. He has rescued the Comanches from myth and distortion and given them their due in the sprawling epic that is our American story.” — John Sledge, “Mobile Press-Register” (AL)
  • “Comanche Empire is an impressive, well-written, and important study that should significantly influence future metanarratives, whether they include all or parts of Texas, the West, the Borderlands, or even general histories of the United States and Mexico.” — Ty Cashion, “Journal of Military History”
  • “Hämäläinen’s treatment of the complex relationships between the Comanches and other European and Native American societies is unique . . . Hämäläinen collates and narrates the events of the eastern and western frontiers through time in such an effective manner that the reader is swept in the flow of an almost seamless narrative.” — Mariah F. Wade, “Great Plains Quarterly”
  • “The Comanche Empire connects “the West,” understood by American historians to mean the trans-Mississippi Western United States, with “the West” as understood by world historians, through the materialist lens of world systems theory. What emerges is formerly unthinkable: a world of “reversed colonialism” in which the Comanche consciously created a functional empire by exploiting and controlling a huge geographic area and the several Euroamerican states that contested for it. . . . The construction and maintenance of this empire by the Comanche and their sometimes surprising allies, and its Carthaginian destruction by the massed might of US forces, form a grand narrative, convincingly told.” — John Harley Gow, “Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire”
  • The mere existence of a Native empire is important, but it is the impact of that indigenous imperialism on traditional perspectives of colonial North America and American western expansion that is truly critical. Demographic and geographic growth meant that Comancheria had eastern and western poles of power. But a political and cultural unity remained, and the Comanches still had the ability to counter-act any and all Spanish attempts to establish greater control over Texas and New Mexico. Indeed, by the early nineteenth century, Spanish administrators could not avoid the fact that Comanches had blunted or defeated all efforts at military intimidation or political manipulation. . . . The blueprint of Comanche empire relied on Comanche perspectives of space, and New Mexico and Texas can clearly be viewed as part of a growing Comanche dominion. Instead of a cohesive, if sparsely populated, northern colonial state, for example, Texas “spent its last years under Spanish rule as a raiding hinterland of the Comanches, who used it as a stockroom for their export-oriented livestock production system” (p. 187). This truly represents a crucial reconfiguration of political space in colonial North America. Just as notably, it reinforces the significance and impact of geographic perspective, a notion similarly enhanced by scholars like Daniel Richter.” — John O. Bowes, “Reviews in American History”

Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 11:31 PM

Top Young Historians: 106 – Jeffrey A. Engel


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

106: Jeffrey A. Engel, 6-7-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor and Verlin and Howard Kruse ’52 Founders Professor and the Director of Programming, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Texas A&M University.
Area of Research: Engel teaches courses in American foreign policy and the evolution of international strategy, with primary research interests including diplomacy’s domestic and localized effects, technology and foreign policy, and economic warfare.
Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D. in American History, 2001
Major Publications: Engel is the author of Cold War at 30,000 Feet: The Anglo-American Fight for Aviation Supremacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007). American Historical Association’s 2008 Paul Birdsall Prize, awarded biannually to the outstanding work published in European Military and Strategic History. Jeffrey Engel JPGEngel is the editor of Rethinking Leadership and “Whole of Government” National Security Reform, with Joseph R. Cerami, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2010).” Authored the chapter: “Change is Hard… But Even Small Steps Matter,” 187-208;
Diplomatic History, Guest Editor of Special Edition, “The End of the Cold War: New Evidence and Interpretations from the First Bush Administration,” 34(1), January 2010;
The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989, Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). Excerpted in, November 9, 2009, authored the chapter: “1989: An Introduction to an International History,” 1-35;
The China Diary of George H.W Bush: The Making of a Global President (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). Excerpted in Newsweek, December 24, 2007;
Local Consequences of the Global Cold War, Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. (Palo Alto and Washington, DC: Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008), authored with Katherine Carté Engel the chapter: “On Writing the Local within Diplomatic History: Trends, Historiography, Purpose,” 1-32.
Engel is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “‘A Better World…but Don’t Get Carried Away’: The Foreign Policy of George H.W. Bush Twenty Years On,” Diplomatic History, 34(1), January 2010, 25-46;
“Leadership and National Security Reform,” A Strategic Studies Institute Colloquium Brief, Joseph R. Cerami, Jeffrey A. Engel, and Lindsey Pavelka,” Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, December 2009;
“Forty-One Minus Forty-Three is Not a Negative Number: Thinking Like an Historian about the First Bush Presidency,” Historically Speaking (Forthcoming, 2010);
“The Democratic Language of American Imperialism: Race, Order, and Theodore Roosevelt’s Personifications of Foreign Policy Evil,” Diplomacy and Statecraft 19(4), December 2008, 671-689;
“Over There…To Stay this Time: The Forward Deployment of American Basing Strategy in the Cold War and Beyond,” in Luis Rodrigues and Sergiy Glebov (eds.), Political and Social Impact of Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2008), 17-28;
“A Shrinking World: Transport, Communication, and Towards a Global Culture,” in Gordon Martel, ed., Companion to International History, 1900-2001 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 52-64; “The American Tendency to Personify Foreign Threats, from Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush: A Note on American Diplomatic Rhetoric,” Political Internacional 25(2), 2002, 197-230;
“‘Every Cent from America’s Working Man’: Fiscal Conservatism and the Politics of International Aid after World War II,” The New England Journal of History 58(1), 2001, 20-60.
Engel is currently writing Seeking Monsters to Destroy: Language and War from Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)
Awards: Engel is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Texas A&M University System Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award, 2010;
Verlin and Howard Kruse ’52 Founders Professor, 2009-Present;
Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities Grant, Texas A&M University, 2008;
2008 Paul Birdsall Prize in European Military and Strategic History for Cold War at 30,000 Feet, American Historical Association;
Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations Summer Institute Participant, 2008;
Bush Faculty Excellence Award (Annually Awarded to Outstanding Faculty Member), 2007;
Evelyn and Ed F. Kruse ’49 Faculty Fellow, Awarded to Outstanding GBS Assistant Professor, 2006-2009;
Visiting Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2007;
Silver Star Award, Awarded by Graduating Students to Outstanding Bush School Professor, 2006;
John M. Olin Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Studies, Yale University, 2001-2003;
Visiting Fellow, Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University, 2000-2001;
Guggenheim Research Fellow (renewed), National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 2000;
Guggenheim Research Fellow, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 1999-2000;
W. Stull Holt Memorial Fellowship of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2000;
United States Military Academy, West Point, Summer Teaching Fellow in Military History, 1999;
Research Fellow, Harry S Truman Presidential Library Institute, 1999;
Dissertation Research Fellow, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, 1999;
Visiting Research Fellow, Eisenhower World Affairs Council (Eisenhower Library), 1999;
University of Wisconsin-Madison Vilas Fellow, 1997;
Blattberg Writing Award, University of Wisconsin Department of History, 1997;
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanistic Studies, 1995-1996.
Additional Info:
Formerly a lecturer in history and international relations at the University of Pennsylvania (2003-2004), a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College (2004), and an Olin Postdoctoral Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University (2001-2003).
Engel is the Co-Director, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations Summer Institute, 2010, “Decision-making and the Uses of History”;
Engel serves on the Editorial Board for Diplomatic History and the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and has published in numerous journals including Diplomatic History, The International Journal, and Enterprise & Society.

Personal Anecdote

I did not set out to write my first book. At least, I did not set out to write the book that finally appeared a decade after I began graduate school. The overarching topic never changed. It remained from beginning to end a study of Anglo-American diplomatic competition for control of the vital aerospace marketplace after World War II.

The topic never changed. But the book itself changed wholly, completely, and unexpectedly. I like to think for the better.

It began, as did I in many ways, as a good example of Wisconsin new-left revisionism. Not only was a I trained by disciples of this powerful strain of diplomatic history, as an undergraduate by Walt LaFeber and in graduate school by Tom McCormick, but revisionism’s ingrained bias towards economic considerations and concerted policymaking by elite interests fit well my own red-diaper upbringing. Seminars and books that concluded, to crudely paint with a broad brush, that moneyed interests helped dictate Washington’s international priorities simply made intuitive sense following years of similar intergenerational invectives from the host of New York Jewish socialists who gathered around the family dinner table (even after we moved to Nebraska).

My dissertation proposal fit this model. Having arrived in Madison-and really, where else would a would-be leftist historian go for grad school?-determined to study what I termed the local impact of diplomacy, that is the measurable human, social, and economic costs and benefits of foreign policy upon communities, I quickly chose Anglo-American aviation diplomacy as my broad topic. Planes during the Cold War were built largely in single sites, thus ensuring that one could quickly discern the effects of plane sales, or their dearth, on the well-being of cities from Seattle to Farnborough. It had to be a topic politically-sexy enough to have garnered the attention of Prime Ministers and Presidents, thus ensuring that diplomacy and sales interacted and produced an extant documentary record. Finally, it had to be an Anglo-American study as well, because good diplomatic work of the era was invariably comparative and transnational, and having studied in England as and undergrad I was determined to get back as quick as possible.

I thus wrote what I thought to be a rather eloquent dissertation proposal befitting the best of what I understood to be the Wisconsin tradition. This would be a story of economic competition for markets, I posited. It would show British and American diplomats battling throughout the world to secure sales for their domestic producers, thereby ensuring prosperity at home and influence abroad. Policymakers would invariably ensure that trade followed the flag, I expected to show. And if their Special Relationship took a beating for the sake of national sales, well this was exactly the type of economic primacy trumping allied solidarity I expected to find once I hit the archives.

The dissertation proposal proved a beautifully constructed piece of tripe. I was not in England 48 hours, immersed in the documents for the second day of an expected year-long cruise through the archives, when I realized I had the story entirely wrong. This was not a tale of export promotion, the records revealed. It was instead one of export-constraint. The story of Anglo-American aviation diplomacy was not a tale of diplomats fighting to open markets for their own producers. It was instead a saga of policymakers vainly struggling to hold back the tide of eager salespeople, whose lust for exports paid little concern for the potential loss of strategically valuable aviation technologies to communist foes. It was a also, I ultimately discovered, a tale of divergent and contradictory British and American strategies for waging and winning the Cold War, one in which strategic concerns trumped economic considerations; though I first had to accept how wrong I’d originally been before I could see this story emerge.

In short, I had it wrong. I won’t say the experience of watching my expectations dashed and then reborn destroyed my revisionist leanings in one fell swoop, because in truth these had already begun to both decline in zeal in favor of a (hopefully) more complex worldview colored by different and even contradictory theories of analysis. At the least, it taught a valuable lesson: history is not always what we expect, but more often what we discover. First, however, one has to be willing to look. And to change one’s mind, no matter how the final product is received around the dinner table.


By Jeffrey A. Engel

  • The world changed in 1989.
    At the start of the year, the globe’s strategic map looked much like it had since the end of World War II. The Fall of the Berlin Wall JPGCommunist leaders in China and the Soviet Union held power. Their American counterparts, skeptical of the sincerity of recent calls for change throughout the Communist world, prepared for a reinvigorated Cold War of unknown duration and ferocity. Europe prepared for another year divided along fault lines imposed by conquering armies nearly a half-century before.
    A year later, communism would be dead in Eastern Europe and dying in the Soviet Union itself. China would be once more in the grip of hard-liners wary of reform, and once more on the precipice of isolation. Washington would be looking to capitalize on its Cold War victory. Europe would soon by rejoined. The future-our twenty-first century present-would be at hand. And no one had seen it coming. — Jeffrey Engel in “The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989” (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 1.
  • This is a story about power. Power enough to shape nations and the world. It is an examination of the bitter Cold War at 30,000 Feet JPGbattles fought by British and American officials over the proper maintenance of the international system following the horrors of World War II, and ultimately of their contest to see which nation would lead the Western crusade against global Communism during the ensuing Cold War. The contest would determine which nation was best equipped to lead the world in its long search for stability, peace, and prosperity in the second half of the twentieth century. The competitors were not always in conflict. Rarely have two allies worked more closely than the United States and the United Kingdom, bonded by a common language, political tradition, and the burdens of combating common enemies. Yet with a fervor rarely appreciated owing to their frequent and public displays of intimacy, behind closed doors they fought bitterly-not only for their different visions of their “Special Relationship,” in which the two nations famously operated as a tighter partnership than either capital enjoyed with any other nation, but more dramatically for their different visions of the future.” — Jeffrey Engel in “Cold War at 30,000 Feet: The Anglo-American Fight for Aviation Supremacy” (Harvard University Press, 2007), p. 1.

About Jeffrey A. Engel

  • This brilliant book contributes to both the history of the airplane industry and Cold War history. Great Britain and the United States competed for supremacy and clashed over sales in the industry as leaders in each nation believed they alone knew how to strike the proper balance between the demands of security and the needs of commerce. It is a fascinating and important story, and Engel tells it well. — Richard S. Kirkendall, University of Washington about “Cold War at 30,000 Feet”
  • This book recounts Britain’s challenge to American hegemony in the production of airliners during the years after the Second World War. Ho hum, you’d think. But with a cast of colorful characters–among them Ernest Bevin, Dean Acheson, and John Maynard Keynes–and acute glimpses into how things worked in postwar Washington, this chronicle of an intense commercial struggle gives readers a fascinating glimpse into a forgotten cranny of history. — The Atlantic about “Cold War at 30,000 Feet”
  • Jeffrey A. Engel’s study of Anglo-American rivalry in aviation provides a fascinating look at the underlying issues that strained the alliance during the first two decades of the Cold War. Building on existing historiography regarding the allies’ different strategic visions during this period, Engel develops a fascinating new approach by demonstrating how conflicts over aviation policy illuminate these differences. Employing an impressive array of archival research, the author details how the allies endured a number of potentially serious disagreements regarding the diffusion of aviation technology. While Engel may overestimate the damage that these disputes had on the alliance, as no real crises developed from the cases he explores, he does an exceptional job of showing how important airpower was in the conflicting worldviews of the two great English-speaking powers. — Daniel C. Williamson (American Historical Review) about “Cold War at 30,000 Feet”
  • Jeffrey A. Engel’s book is a fascinating read, especially for those who maintain that international relations are defined by “high politics” (as in global alliances and security issues) that take precedent over “low politics” (such as financial and trade issues). In examining Anglo-American differences over the trade in aeronautics (engines and aircraft), Engel shows just how much low politics mattered-and how they could be defining moments of high politics when international relations collided with economic and trade interests…Cold War at 30,000 Feet is an important addition to our understanding of the Cold War. — Marc Dierikx (The Journal of American History) about “Cold War at 30,000 Feet”
  • “[B]ush’s year in China laid the foundations for the pragmatic, prudent, personal foreign policy that would characterize his presidency. With superb annotations and analysis by Jeffrey Engel, a professor of history and public policy at Texas A&M, Bush’s daily diary sheds light not only on ‘the making of a global president’ but on two nations in transition: late Maoist China, as it moved, tentatively, toward engagement with the international community; and the United States, as it absorbed the implications of defeat in Vietnam.” — Glenn C. Altschuler, Baltimore Sun about “China Diary of George H.W. Bush”
  • “George H. W. Bush’s China diary captures a pivotal moment when Americans were reintroduced to the Middle Kingdom after a generation of estrangement. It also reveals much of the humanity, humor, and light foreign policy touch of a future president and presidential father. We can be grateful to Jeffrey Engel for putting this important document into its rich historical context and making it accessible.” — Timothy Naftali, author of George H. W. Bush
  • “Engel’s historical editing is the perfect frame to this lucid window on late-Maoist China. In the Bush diary’s candid entries the reader can ‘eavesdrop’ on a statesman educating himself for the personal, pragmatic diplomacy that would change the world.” — Walter A. McDougall, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heavens and the Earth
  • Jeffrey A. Engel’s and Katherine Carté Engel’s introduction by itself is worth acquiring the book for. Students and teachers of Cold War history alike will be grateful for such a nuanced account of methodology of and approaches to Cold War historiography. By discussing the achievements of earlier research and naming desiderata, the authors pave the way for the case studies to fill some of the voids left by traditional accounts, many of which ignore ‘small’ stories taking place in seemingly remote areas in favour of the ‘big picture’. — Corinna R. Unger, Journal of Contemporary History about “Local Consequences of the Global Cold War”

Posted on Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Top Young Historians: 105 – Charlotte Brooks, 38


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

105: Charlotte Brooks, 5-31-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Department of History, Co-Chair, Program in Asian and Asian American Studies, Baruch College, City University of New York.
Area of Research: Twentieth-century U.S. history, particularly urban history, politics and policy, race, immigration, and Asian American history.
Education: 2002 Ph.D. U.S. History, Northwestern University.
Major Publications: Brooks is the author of Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). Charlotte Brooks JPG
Brooks is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “The War on Grant Avenue: Business Competition and Ethnic Rivalry in San Francisco’s Chinatown, 1937-1942,” Journal of Urban History, forthcoming (March 2011); “Sing Sheng vs. Southwood: Housing, Race, and the Cold War in 1950s California,” Pacific Historical Review 73:3 (August 2004). [Reprinted in The Best American History Essays 2006, edited by Joyce Appleby (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)]; “In the Twilight Zone Between Black and White: Japanese American Resettlement and Community in Chicago, 1942-1945,” Journal of American History 86:4 (March 2000).
She is currently doing research for her second book, Between Mao and McCarthy: Chinese American Political Culture in Cold War America (under contract with the University of Chicago Press). This book will examine the contours of Chinese American political activism after World War Two and the way it intersected with U.S. foreign policy, larger Asian American struggles for access to equal citizenship, the growth of Great Society programs, and the postwar black civil rights movement.
Awards: Brooks is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Brooks is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Honorable Mention, 2010 Frederick Jackson Turner Award (for an author’s first book on some significant phase of American history), Organization of American Historians, 2010;
Eugene M. Lang Junior Faculty Research Program Fellowship, Baruch College, 2009-2010;
Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Grant, Baruch College, 2009;
Baruch College, Weissman School Dean’s Office Summer Research Grant, 2008;
Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Grant, Baruch College, 2008;
Individual Development Award, State University of New York Joint Labor-Management Committee; 2006;
Louis Knott Koontz Memorial Award (for best article in the previous volume of the Pacific Historical Review), Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, 2005;
Faculty Research Assistance Program B Grant, University at Albany, 2004-2005;
Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, Barnard College (declined), 2003;
Northwestern University Graduate School Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2001-2002;
Social Science Research Council International Migration Dissertation Fellowship, 2000-2001;
Harry S Truman Library Foundation Research Grant, 2000;
Haynes Foundation Southern California History Research Grant, 2000;
Northwestern University Graduate School Research Grant, 2000;
Teaching Assistant Fellow, Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, 1999-2000.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, Faculty Affiliate, Department of Public Administration and Policy, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York.

Personal Anecdote

Although born in Los Angeles, I grew up in Auburn, a small town about forty-five minutes outside of Sacramento. At the time, Auburn’s boosters played up its status as an old Gold Rush hub to lure tourists; as I grew older, however, I realized that the town also possessed what in those days was a largely unexplored Asian American past. I caught an occasional glimpse in the Shanghai Bar in Old Town, the tumbledown shacks that longtime residents still referred to as the “Chinese section,” or a stack of the town’s old high school yearbooks, where I discovered that until 1942, one-third of the student body of the now almost all-white school had been Japanese American.

Yet it took me many years to explore this past any further. Our high school textbooks didn’t discuss Asian American history, nor did Yale offer any courses in the subject when I was a student there. During my undergrad years I tried to remedy what I felt was my general provinciality and weak educational background by taking courses on every area of the world except the US. In the process, I became particularly fascinated with modern China, studying everything from Chinese history to Chinese literature to the Chinese language itself. Desperate to actually visit China, I signed up with a program to teach English there after college, only to find myself placed at the last minute in a xenophobic town in Hubei Province. As the only white person and the only obvious foreigner in the city, I faced not only constant stares but actual harassment on a daily basis. People routinely came up to me and clapped in my face to see how I would react, children threw firecrackers and debris at me with the encouragement of adults, and even students from other departments in my college taunted me on campus. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but at the same time, one of the most important. While I could never escape for a moment my status as an outsider, I had the opportunity to watch China in the midst of a wrenching industrial revolution.

My time in Hubei and a subsequent stint in Hong Kong made me think about issues such as race, class, environmental degradation, and economic development in ways I had never considered before. They also inspired to me to apply to graduate school to study U.S. history while further exploring the Chinese past.

The question I hear most often from students, friends, and family members is, “Why do you study that?” They’re not referring to urban history or 20th century America, but to Asian American history. It’s a question I’ve always struggled to answer satisfactorily, mostly because its racial subtext makes me self-conscious. I know, too, that historians often decide to study their own communities when they focus on fields such as gay and lesbian history, women’s history, African American history, or similar subjects. I can’t claim to be doing the same in my work, but I do think that my background is the reason I study Asian American history. And I believe that the importance of this field to the larger American story means that while I am not Asian American, Asian American history is my history too.


By Charlotte Brooks

  • “California’s postwar racial transformation did not result mainly from growing white acceptance of Asian American citizenship. Nor did it take place simply because of the repeal of prewar anti-Asian laws, although
    Asian Americans welcomed and benefited from such changes. Rather, it occurred largely because the meaning of Asian American ‘foreignness’ itself shifted with changing American interests in Asia. As the cold war deepened, a growing number of white Californians saw Asian American housing integration as a necessary price to pay for victory in the struggle. And as thousands of Asian Americans began moving to neighborhoods where blacks could not follow, the racial geography of urban and suburban California in the late 1950s because the most obvious barometer of the state’s racial transformation.” — Charlott Brooks in “Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California”

Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California

About Charlotte Brooks

  • “The Turner Award Committee identified three studies for honorable mention, each of which reflects innovative as well as rigorous methodological inquiry. Each of these studies merits honorable recognition… Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (The University of Chicago Press) broadens the history of U.S. Cold War foreign policy to consider the rapidly changing place of Asian Americans within American society. Its focus on housing patterns highlights how California’s most persecuted minority communities before and especially during World War II became representatives of new but nonetheless limited forms of American liberalism after the war.” — OAH’s Frederick Jackson Turner Committee for “Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California”, which received an honorable mention
  • “A nuanced exploration of multiracial race relations and the complexities attending Asian Americans’ shifting social status in California’s cities, this book is an important contribution to urban and Asian American history. Charlotte Brooks’s discussions about the exclusion of Asian Americans from New Deal programs and the undoing of racial covenants in the cold war era are original, well researched, and subtly argued. She compellingly illuminates the limits of postwar racial liberalism.” — Mae Ngai, Columbia University, author of “Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America”
  • “A fascinating study, beautifully accomplished. Comparing the experience of Japanese and Chinese Americans in two California cities, Brooks illuminates the complex texture of discrimination, and the role of citizenship and international affairs in the evolution of equality. This book illustrates the way focused studies of particular communities contribute important insights to our understanding of the intersection of U.S. foreign affairs and civil rights history.” — Mary L. Dudziak, USC Law School, author of “Exporting American Dreams; Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey”
  • “Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends takes a direct and compelling approach to its investigation of how the most viciously racialized groups in pre-World War II California became, in the decades after the war, the state’s most praised non-whites. This book is especially important for its intervention in the black-white binaries of recent urban historiography on racial segregation, the urban crisis, and civil rights politics. It is a book unlike almost anything else in the literature, and as such it significantly broadens our understanding of how race has shaped American cities.” — Robert Self, Brown University, author of “American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland”
  • “Professor Brooks is a highly qualified professor. She is so passionate about history which you can tell through her lectures.”…
    “One of the best professors at Baruch. I took her for History which isn’t even my focus, but I learned the most in this class out of the whole semester. She keeps all the lessons interesting. Coming to class was a pleasure for me.”…
    “She is a great teacher!!! I learned a lot in her history class. I strongly recommend her..awesome!!!”…
    “Love her!Amazing professor!!! extremly helpful and crystal clear. Makes lectures interesting. “…
    “Great professor, really cares about students succeeding in her class, very enthusiatic and knowledgeable about subject.”…
    “Excellent teacher. Really cares about students’ learning the material and makes herself available for extra help.”…
    “You couldnt ask for a better professor. Great person,passionate, interesting lectures, cool sense of humor. ” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 8:45 AM

Top Young Historians: 104 – Moshik Temkin


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

104: Moshik Temkin, 5-24-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
Area of Research: Modern transatlantic history, with an emphasis on 20th century political cultures in the US and Europe, the United States in the World
Education: Ph.D. History, Columbia University, 2007
Major Publications: Temkin is the author of The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial (Yale University Press, 2009), an international history of one of the major legal and political episodes of the twentieth century, selected for the long list of the 2009 Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University.
Moshik Temkin JPG Temkin is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:”Internationalism and the Limits of Political Tolerance: Malcolm X in Europe, 1964-1965″ (article manuscript in preparation);”Cold War Culture and the Lingering Myth of Sacco and Vanzetti”, in Duncan Bell and Joel Isaac, eds., The Cold War in Pieces: Explorations of a Model for Postwar American History (forthcoming, OUP);”Culture vs. Kultur: The First World War, American Intellectuals, and the Clash of Civilizations” (article under revision);”‘Avec un certain malaise’: The Paxtonian Trauma in France, 1973-74,” Journal of Contemporary History (April 2003). His current research interests include the death penalty in transatlantic perspective, Malcolm X’s career and politics in global context, and internationalism and border control in the twentieth century.”
Awards: Temkin is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Finalist, Cundill International Prize and Lecture in History, for The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial (2009);
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellowship, the New School University and the New-York Historical Society, 2007-2008 (declined);
Finalist, Bancroft Dissertation Award, 2008-2009;
Visiting Fellow, Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall, Paris, 2006-2007;
Visiting Fellow, Centre d’Études Nord-Américains, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, Spring 2007; Visiting Fellow, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris, 2004-2005;
History Department Teaching Fellow, Columbia University, 2001-2003;
Gerson Cohen Memorial Fellow in History, Columbia University, 2003l;
Visiting Fellow, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, UK, Summer 2002;
Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies Fellow, Columbia University, 2000-2007.
Additional Info:
Affiliated with both the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for European Studies, Harvard University.
Temkin previously taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at Columbia University.
With Alex Keyssar, convenes the Harvard Seminar on History and Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.
Temkin has written articles for The Nation, Haaretz, and the Journal of Contemporary History, and was a founder of The Israel Forum of New York, which organized public discussions of Middle East politics and history, particularly the role of the United States.

Personal Anecdote

When I read or hear other people’s accounts of how they wrote their dissertation or their first book-the sojourns in dusty but marvelous out-of-the-way archives, the fateful chance meetings with ousted despots in abandoned mineshafts, the luggage mistakenly switched with that of the shady foreign operative-I can’t help but think of the recurring Seinfeld joke about”Rochelle, Rochelle”, the film-turned-Broadway musical about”a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” In reality, at least in my experience, there’s very little glamour or romance involved in getting a PhD in history. Yes, there is often a lot of travel involved, and anyone who spends an inordinate amount of time in airports and hotels is bound to have more than her share of misadventures. I am no exception. But the process of the PhD is in some ways nasty, brutish, and long-sometimes strange, yes, but not necessarily in a good way, and in any case rarely erotic. Still, I like to think I’m not a masochist, so it’s reasonable to ask why I wound up walking that road. It wasn’t at all obvious, and I can’t claim to be following a calling I felt since I was a child. History was one of my worst subjects, my inability to memorize names and dates surpassed perhaps only by my inability to comprehend the most simple geometric axioms. I still recall the big day of the matriculation exam in history-as dictated by the high school curriculum in the frenetic Middle Eastern country where I spent most of my boyhood, we were tested on our knowledge of Second Temple-era Judea, and I bravely chose to answer the question about the differences in religious practices and beliefs between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. I wrote my response with some pride, pleased that I was actually able to remember all the priestly minutiae. It was only later that day that I realized in horror-though not with total surprise-that I had been absolutely correct about all the religious practices and beliefs, but had attributed those of the Pharisees to the Sadducees, and vice versa. I hoped against hope that the exam would be graded by an understanding soul who could appreciate that I had included all the relevant information, just the other way around, but no such luck was forthcoming.

In all the time that’s passed since then I’m still not sure I’ve mastered the elusive art of memorization, and I’ve certainly forgotten most of what I knew about Judea in 70AD. It wasn’t until over a decade later that I decided on an academic career (long story), and even after I embarked on the road to becoming a professional historian I was sorely tempted on a few occasions to opt for alternate paths: during one lull in graduate school I considered returning to my previous life as a journalist, and during another-this one more sustained, a probable side effect of the distractions of living in New York and then Paris-I seriously contemplated diving headlong into the world of music. What kept me going in the discipline is, I think, something that I first grasped in college, listening to a talk by wizened scholar of medieval France, and to which I have returned in such moments of doubt: that history should not, cannot, be treated as a”subject”, something separate from other domains of life, to be learned in isolation. Eric Hobsbawm was on to something (though maybe not for the right reasons) when he demanded that history not be treated as”merely one damned thing after another.” What I try to convey to students as they begin to delve into the past is that history, contrary to what they may have thought or heard, is not a body of knowledge to be absorbed, but”a way of thinking”, as Marc Bloch put it, about the world they live in. That may sound banal to those of us professionalized in the discipline, but I wish I realized that twenty years ago. I think that’s where I (and my teachers, for that matter) went wrong in high school. Armed with that insight, I might have enjoyed history much more even then, been somewhat more adept with names and dates (though probably still not with those geometric axioms) and maybe even remembered-correctly!-what it was exactly that those pesky Pharisees and Sadducees did differently from each other.


By Moshik Temkin

  • “The Sacco-Vanzetti affair emerged as a major international concern at the height of one of the most sensitive and tumultuous periods in the history of America’s interaction with the world, and particularly Europe, a period that, in a number of ways, resembles our own. The affair was generated not only by the widespread notion that Sacco and Vanzetti were punished purely for their politics and ethnicity but also by the potent reaction to the post-World War I rise of American global supremacy and, concomitantly, American isolationism. The result of this protest, both national and foreign, was complex and paradoxical. It turned Sacco and Vanzetti into famous men, put tremendous pressure on American authorities, created a raucous controversy in the United States over the intervention of foreigners in American matters, and led to a backlash that sealed Sacco and Vanzetti’s fate: the two men were executed not despite the international campaign on their behalf but rather because of it.” — Moshik Temkin in The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial (Yale University Press, 2009)
  • “Sacco and Vanzetti left a number of odd legacies. A lot of people in the United States, Europe, and Latin America still recognize their names. I’ve seen or heard them mentioned in The Sopranos and Sports Illustrated, in novels by Kurt Vonnegut and Phillip Roth, in random conversations. The largest pencil-producing factory in Russia was named after them, and generations of Russian children associated the names Sacco and Vanzetti with the pencils and crayons they used. There was a film in Italy, a tango in Argentina, a song by Joan Baez and Ennio Morricone, a punk band in Germany, a brand of cigarettes in Uruguay. There are streets named after them in Italy and France. They often come up when people give examples of past injustices, or more facetiously, when people want to denote famous duos, as in Abbott and Costello, Jagger and Richards, Siegfried and Roy, Sacco and Vanzetti. The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair America on Trial JPGI think all this reflects an uncertainty in how they are remembered. Sacco and Vanzetti do not have a clear place in our civic life or historical record. Part of the reason for this has to do with the fact that we still don’t know-and never will know-whether they”did it.”But in many ways, the Sacco-Vanzetti affair is still with us. Certainly the issues that animated it are very much alive. Americans today still do battle over the issue of immigration, and intolerance toward foreigners is still widespread, sometimes virulent, especially when times are hard. Europeans, Latin Americans, and other non-Americans are still concerned over, and in some cases outright hostile to, America’s presence in the world, and the way Americans handle international politics. And then as now, Americans are still divided over what was called, in Sacco and Vanzetti’s day,”foreign interference” in American affairs.Whether it is the death penalty, or the health care system, or how to deal with terrorism suspects, or even who should be elected U.S. president, non-Americans have and will continue to have opinions, because the United States is so powerful and what it does domestically reverberates externally. Many Americans bristle at this but many others welcome this. It depends on whether they see the United States as an entity separated in principle from the rest of the world, or as a genuine part of the world-a world in which Americans have a stake in the lives of non-Americans, and vice versa.

    This issue divided Americans when Sacco and Vanzetti were what one magazine called”the two most famous prisoners in the world,” and it still divides Americans today. This, I believe, is the context in which the Sacco-Vanzetti affair took place. My book is not an attempt to end the discussion about Sacco and Vanzetti, or to provide a definitive account. My aim was to start a new conversation, one that would not be about guilt or innocence but rather about the Sacco-Vanzetti affair-its significance and place in history.” — — Moshik Temkin in an interview with”Rorotoko” about his book”The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial”

About Moshik Temkin

  • “More than 80 years after Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were electrocuted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Sacco-Vanzetti case continues to confound, fascinate, and even outrage. . . . Kennedy School Professor Temkin examines how. . .the Sacco-Vanzetti case turned into the Sacco-Vanzetti affair. . . . This is a fresh look at an enduring controversy and a reminder that modern ambivalence about American power has deep roots.” — ALA Booklist
  • “[Starred Review] In the first half of the 20th century, America was known internationally for its decisive contribution to two world wars, its Jim Crow laws, and the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. This most recent study. . .surpasses all prior analyses of this subject in terms of scope, erudition, and objectivity. Temkin (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard) not only brings light to bear on the most recent historical research but focuses attention on a much-neglected facet of the case: the worldwide controversy the affair still engenders. Built upon a foundation of meticulous research, this book discusses many fascinating elements of controversy, not least the long-term views held by Sacco and Vanzetti’s defenders and accusers and how their participation in the search for justice was perceived by their peers. Timely given the contemporary attacks America faces abroad for its policies and justice system, this signal study is worthy reading.” — Library Journal
  • “What could possibly have united so many unlikely bedfellows in support of a pair of radical anarchists? Why did Sacco and Vanzetti attract so much attention given the much more widespread injustices done to black Americans in the criminal justice system? Why did a cause that gained so much national and international support ultimately fail? And what does the case tell us about relations between the United States and the rest of the world between the wars? Moshik Temkin does a brilliant job answering these questions. And in his answers, it turns out, lie the roots of the current controversy over America’s war on terror.” – David Cole, London Review of Books
  • “The”agony” of the good shoemaker and the poor fish peddler has been chronicled in scores of books, articles, pamphlets, movies, documentaries, and even ballads. By describing the case as a uniquely American story and by focusing on its legal and criminal aspects, those sources have centered on the trial in an attempt to prove the men’s guilt or innocence. Rather than follow this well-worn path, Moshik Temkin maps out the transformation of the Sacco and Vanzetti case from a local episode to a global cause célèbre. In the book’s most significant contribution, Temkin explains why the legal and political campaign to save Sacco and Vanzetti was more than just a battle against a judicial murder. As the United States rose to a position of unrivaled industrial and financial prominence, the Sacco and Vanzetti affair was a prism through which the rest of the world might understand the new emerging global power.” — Journal of American History
  • “Moshik Temkin has written a brilliant contribution. . . . The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair is a remarkable achievement, a serious book about a sensational subject.” — French Politics
  • “Moshik Temkin has written an engaging book on the political impact and debates spawned by the Sacco and Vanzetti- affair. In a novel way, he uses them to illuminate the deep socio-political and cultural fissures in American life, which have remained enduring over time.” — Jeremy Kuzmarov, History News Network
  • “After 80 years of books, films, plays, paintings and songs commemorating the Sacco-Vanzetti case, it’s challenging for an author to break new ground. Moshik Temkin’s new book does just that by focusing on the relationship between the domestic and international reactions to the case. . . .It’s a refreshing change to read a book about Sacco and Vanzetti that doesn’t stop to ask:”Were they guilty?” While a conclusive answer to that question may be lost to history, Temkin is explaining something even more important: how the case of Sacco and Vanzetti influenced this nation’s transformation into a world power and stimulated some of the important and ongoing debates about our role in the world community.” — Barbara Berenson, Lawyer’s Weekly
  • “Drawing on extensive research on two continents, Moshik Temkin skillfully connects the Sacco-Vanzetti affair to how the wider world was reacting to America’s global supremacy and isolation after World War I. The result is a primer on how the case became a template for how to use radical propaganda to advance political causes. A well-written and absorbing read, Temkin’s book also demonstrates how this case is relevant to today’s multicultural world as it was its harbinger.” — Paula Adamick, The Canada Post
  • “Temkin’s original contribution is to set the case of Sacco and Vanzetti in international context, and he does so in engaging and energetic fashion.” — Sarah Farmer, University of California, Irvine
  • “This exemplary international history reveals for the first time the full scope and multiple meanings of the Sacco- Vanzetti affair.” — Richard Fox, University of Southern California
  • “In contrast to others who have written about the Sacco and Vanzetti case in the U.S., Temkin sets the Affair and responses to it in a genuinely transatlantic context. In so doing he makes an original and distinctive contribution to his subject.” — Tony Judt, New York University

Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:56 AM

HNN’s “Top Young Historians: The Next 100”

HNN’s “Top Young Historians: The Next 100” (Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman)

History News Network commencing “Top Young Historians: The Next 100″

Having completed profiling the first 100 historians in our series in 2009, we are now relaunching the series to profile another 100 fascinating and dynamic Top Young Historians making their mark on the profession.

5-10-10: HNN’s Top Young Historians: This Week … Kathryn Lofton

5-17-10: HNN’s Top Young Historians: This Week … Jeremy Kuzmarov

All profiled historians are nominated and undergo a review process before they are chosen. Each historian on this list has made outstanding contributions to the discipline in their area of research through their commitment and achievement to scholarship and teaching. They are also highly regarded outside academia for their expertise, and many are consulted by the popular media.

Top Young Historians: 103 – Jeremy Kuzmarov


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

103: Jeremy Kuzmarov, 5-17-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, Tulsa University.
Area of Research: Modern American history, U.S. foreign relations history, American empire, America and the world, American covert operations, war and society, American criminal justice system and its internationalization, US War on Drugs, International police training programs.
Education: Doctor of Philosophy, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Completed May 2006
Dissertation: The Myth of the Addicted Army – Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs
Major Publications: Kuzmarov is the author of The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on DrugsJeremy Kuzmarov JPG (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), and is currently writing Modernizing Repression: Police Training and the Violence of Empire (Amhrest, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, under contract).
Kuzmarov is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, and reviews including among others:”Modernizing Repression: Police Training, Political Violence and ‘Nation-Building’ in the American Century” Diplomatic History (April 2009);”The Myth of the ‘Addicted Army’: Drug Use in Vietnam in Historical Perspective” War and Society (October 2007);”From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency: Vietnam and the International War on Drugs” Journal of Policy History (Summer 2008);”American Police Training and Political Violence: From the Philippines Conquest to the Killing Fields of Afghanistan and Iraq,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 11-1-10, March 15, 2010.
Awards: Kuzmarov is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Sachar Dissertation Award, Graduate Studies Association Brandeis University, 2004-2005;
Crown Fellowship, Brandeis University American History Department, 2002-2006.
Additional Info:
Formerly Visiting Assistant Professor of History Bucknell University (2006-2009)
Kuzmarov’s lecture”The Myth of the Addicted Army” at University of Arkansas-Fayetville, sponsored by the local branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was broadcast on CSPAN in February 2010.

Personal Anecdote

I first became interested in history hearing stories from my grandfather, Oscar Weinstein, who passed away last year at the age of 99 and had an incredible memory. Intellectually, my perspective was first shaped by a course that I took at Dawson College in Montreal on the so-called anti-psychiatrists – R.D. Laing and Erich Fromm – whose idea that mental illness was a social construct and a product of the pathologies and intolerance of society I found to be compelling. At McGill University, I took a course on crime and punishment which introduced me to radical theories of criminology and examined the social roots and construction of deviance in Western society. Then I read Noam Chomsky, whose work on state crime and terrorism was (and remains) highly illuminating, and Alfred W. McCoy’s on the CIA’s support for the global narcotics trade, which my own research on the topic confirmed to be right on the mark.

My first book The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs draws on sociological theories about”moral panics” and the construction of deviance in examining the origins and growth of the modern drug war. I try and demonstrate how policy-makers and the media greatly exaggerated the scope and ravages of drug abuse in the army, creating a climate of hysteria over drugs which supplanted public concern about the war itself and resulted in the growth of repressive prohibition measures. The myth of the drug-addicted soldier took hold so widely in my view because it provided a convenient political scapegoat, which helped to deflect attention away from the carnage in Indochina, and to absolve of responsibility those responsible for perpetrating and expanding the war. The second half of the book analyzes the consequences of the War on Drugs, including its link to the growth of the carcerial state in the US and major human rights abuses internationally while at the same time failing to curb supply rates.

Building off this work, I am currently completing a book on American international police training programs entitled Modernizing Repression. Adopting a comparative analysis, I chronicle how police programs have served as an important mechanism for expanding American power from the conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century through the 21st century occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and resulted in significant human rights violations. This book combines my interests in criminal justice, US foreign policy and covert operations and draws on many of the formative intellectual influences in my professional career and life.


By Jeremy Kuzmarov

  • “The enduring quality of the myth of the addicted army in many respects demonstrates America’s long-standing
    inability to come to terms with the moral consequences of the Vietnam War. By reimagining their soldiers as victims and the U.S. military defeat as a”tragedy,” Americans were able to deflect responsibility for the massive destruction and loss of life inflicted on the people of Southeast Asia and thus to avoid serious reconsideration of the ideological principles that rationalized the American intervention. The silencing and demonizing of dissenting voices, including antiwar GIs typecast as psychopathic junkies, aided in this process.” — Jeremy Kuzmarov in”The Myth of the Addicted Army”
  • “With remarkable continuity, police aid was used not just to target criminals but to develop elaborate intelligence networks oriented towards internal defense, which allowed the suppression of dissident groups to take place on a wider scope and in a more surgical and often brutal way. In effect, the U.S. helped to modernize intelligence gathering and political policing operations, thus magnifying their impact. They further helped to militarize the police and provided them with a newfound perception of power, while schooling them in a hard-line anticommunism that fostered the dehumanization of political adversaries and bred suspicion about grass-roots mobilization…… Although the U.S. was not always in control of the forces that it empowered and did not always condone their acts, human rights violations were not by accident or the product of rogue forces betraying American principles, as some have previously argued. They were rather institutionalized within the fabric of American policy and its coercive underpinnings.” — Jeremy Kuzmarov in”Modernizing Repression: Police Training, Nation-Building and the Spread of Political Violence in the American Century,” Diplomatic History, April 2009

About Jeremy Kuzmarov

  • “The Myth of the Addicted Army will contend for best-book awards in history, sociology, and many fields of policy studies. It is chock full of original research utilizing government documents and interviews with policy makers to show how the war in Vietnam incubated the myth of widespread drug addiction among U.S. troops that became, in turn, the back story to the homefront War on Drugs.” — Jerry Lembcke, author of The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam
  • “What is so compelling about Jeremy Kuzmarov’s book is his careful depiction of how ‘the myth of the addicted army’ was used for a variety of political and cultural purposes. He convincingly shows that Nixon adopted the drug policy he did in order to advance his own political fortunes, and that Nixon’s drug war set the terms of the discussion in several ways. It obscured the real lack of evidence for a drug epidemic among GIs and set off an irrational response to drug use that has been a staple of American politics and popular culture ever since.” — William O. Walker, author of Drug Control in the Americas

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Top Young Historians: 102 – Kathryn Lofton


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

Note: 1st profile in our relaunch commencing “Top Young Historians: The Next 100”

102: Kathryn Lofton, 5-10-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of American Studies and Religious Studies, Yale University; courtesy appointments in the Department of History and Yale Divinity School
Area of Research: U.S. religious history, methods and theories in the study of religion, the history of sexuality
Education: Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thesis:”Making the Modern in Religious America, 1870-1935″, 2005
Major Publications: Lofton is the author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (University of California Press, 2011).
Kathryn Lofton JPG Lofton is currently working on The Modernity in Mr. Shaw: Fundamentalisms and Modernisms in American Culture.
Together with Laurie Maffly-Kipp, she has edited An Anthology of African-American Women’s Historical Writings from Antebellum America to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2010).
Lofton is also the author of several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, including — with Richard Callahan and Chad Seales –“Allegories of Progress: Industrial Religion in the United States” in the March 2010 issue of Journal of the American Academy of Religion;”Queering Fundamentalism: John Balcom Shaw and the Sexuality of a Protestant Orthodoxy” in the September 2008 issue of The Journal of the History of Sexuality;”Public Confessions: Oprah Winfrey’s American Religious History” in the March 2008 issue of Women & Performance;”Practicing Oprah; Or, The Prescriptive Compulsion of a Spiritual Capitalism” in the August 2006 issue of The Journal of Popular Culture; “The Methodology of the Modernists: Process in American Protestantism” in the June 2006 issue of Church History; “The Preacher Paradigm: Biographical Promotions and the Modern-Made Evangelist” in the Winter 2006 issue of Religion and American Culture.
Awards: Lofton is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including among others:
She was been named a 2010-2011 Fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University;
2008-2009 Fellow of Religion and Religious History at the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University;
2008-2010 Young Scholar in American Religion at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.
In addition, she has won a College Arts & Humanities Institute Fellowship at Indiana University;
2006-2007 LGBT Religious History Award from the LGBT Religious Archives Network;
2005-2006 Stillman Drake Award for Faculty Development at Reed College; 2005 Students’ Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award, University of North Carolina; 2005 Tanner Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, University of North Carolina.
Additional Info:
Formerly Associate Research Scholar, Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University, 2008 – 2009; Assistant Professor of American Studies and Religious Studies, Indiana University, 2006 – 2008, and Visiting Professor of Religion and Humanities, Reed College, 2005 – 2006

Personal Anecdote

I found myself in his basement after several overeager e-mails and one short walk from campus.”There are the boxes,” he said, apologizing for the appealing squalor.”Use whatever you can find.” He smiled, waved a little, and left me alone. This is the loneliness which launched 1,000 monographs, the isolation of papers disordered and waiting. Just for what they were waiting I knew, then: I would have said (as I walked to his house, as I poured through large, long histories, as I sat in undergraduate lectures on the Stamp Act and Mesopotamian agriculture) that the papers waited for our story-telling, for our discovery. On that grey day, I would have said simply: I am doing the work of finding out what has not been found, but needs to be heard.

Several gorging hours later, I had more then I could have hoped to have: not only meeting minutes, but also typescripts of speeches. For a student of African American religions, such transcriptions of ministerial expression are treasure nonpareil. In 1961, I heard a pastor bellow back at the South East Chicago Commission:”Those people over there have got to realize once and for all that Woodlawn is not their private colony.” In 1965, I found the same man-president of The Woodlawn Organization, reverend in a growing Pentecostal parish-arguing,”This proposal is based on the long-standing American assertion that self-determining communities, with sufficient resources, can bring their members into the mainstream of American life.” Later, in the middle of the summer of ’66, he cajoled,”I don’t think we ought to get mad. We ought to get smart.” Finally, I heard this same man-the subject of my study, the target of my discovery-steam forward with his success,”The greatest danger to an organization is complacency. Let us stick together. If you stick together, you got to win. I’m sticking to Woodlawn.” In his notes accompanying this speech, the annotator remarked,”on several occasions, there was loud applause and/or amens.”

I think I lived on the pure positivist pleasure of that afternoon for exactly three days. For three days, I felt like the queen of all archiving, mistress of data, and doyenne of detection. I had found what I believed was a critical missing voice in the historiography. I had found him arguing, avidly, against King and his imported political strategies to combat de facto segregation. In one clearinghouse afternoon, I had pulled voices, power, and political consequences from disordered files. There was such a gorgeous cleanliness to my self-satisfaction.

Then, of course, the bubble burst. Running behind in my reading for a class, I flew through an assigned chapter from Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past, one which diagnosed Columbus Day and its peculiar formation. One sentence stopped me, cold:”The naming of the ‘fact’ is itself a narrative power disguised as innocence.” Every historian realizes, at some point or another, that what they do is something may be more interpretive, more imaginative, and more manipulative than chatter of”objectivity” suggests. But when Trouillot named my glee an innocence-and my”discovery” an imperial format-I think I began, finally, to commit to history. Not as a romance with data, or a story to unfold, or a voice to ventriloquize, but as a practice of powerful criticism, one in which we unrelentingly seek the mess, especially when anything presents too easily, too neatly, too logically, to be true.


By Kathryn Lofton


  • From the start, it should be clear: this Oprah is maybe not your Oprah. She is most likely nothing like the Oprah you recollect, the one who hugs and helps and heals the world, one sympathizing smile at a time. For the purposes of this work, the materiality of Oprah Winfrey-her body, her biography, and her singularity-is interesting only insofar as it documents and creates Oprah. Shifting from her to it is not easy, since Oprah is a professionally lovable sort of she. But the move is necessary if we are to know just what it is, exactly, that she sells. Because whatever Oprah is, it will be, in perpetuity, a product. This book examines a person who is also a product, a woman who blends, bends, and obliterates the line between private practice and public performance and whose aesthetics completely ignore what we have historically conceived as a great divide between what is properly religious and what is not. This is the space between the eighteenth-century itinerant preacher George Whitfield and the twentieth-century incorporation of Coca-Cola; it is the charisma between the formation of churches and the formation of empires. Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon argues that the products of Oprah Winfrey’s empire offer a description of religion in modern society. Within the religious pluralism of contemporary America, Oprah extols what she likes, what she needs, and what she believes. These decisions are not just product plugs but also proposals for a mass spiritual revolution, supplying forms of religious practice that fuse consumer behavior, celebrity ambition, and religious idiom. Through multiple media, Oprah sells us a story about ourselves. — Kathryn Lofton in”Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon” (University of California Press, forthcoming)
  • Divine parallels prove limiting, however, since it was the case that Michael never moved by magic. He invented that stage. He choreographed his dance. He hustled his single-glove wares. In this, he was not so incomparable. Something happened to the celebrity icon in the Eighties. Scholars identify this as a decade of exponential magnification of the paparazzo’s lens, and the multimedia diversification which created a new sort of permeating brand identification. But the iconic shift noteworthy here is the differential work ethic. Marilyn and Jackie O. did work, but by the Eighties they seemed rather indolent when posed alongside the laboring stagecraft of other single-name celebrities. Consequentially the icon’s eroticism calcified: Ms. Ciccione, Mr. Jackson, and Ms. Winfrey were working too hard to be sexy. Indeed, they worked too hard to be believed. The Eighties celebrity became a machine, one known as much for its handlers and backstage rigging as it was for its productions. The celebrity was no longer the demigod of Olympian descent; it served as its own deus ex machina….
    What is most tugging to those questing for the religious Michael Jackson is not to be found in biography. Rather, it is, always and forever, in the deus of those songs. It is difficult to think of another singer who has produced more music that serves such ritual function, be it Halloween (“Thriller”), peace summits (“We Are The World”), or the midnight club surge (“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”). This musician knew how to capitalize upon the liminal gap between fear and pleasure, between acrimony and unity, between exhaustion and electricity, between rape and desire, between genders, between races, and between ages. He performed on the rite de passage. Perhaps righteously, the reporters and detectives found in that wobble foul play. But in the dancing delight of our most sentimental rites-at the wedding, at the middle school dance, or in the child’s bedroom-such talk of Michael’s molesting grotesque seems sacrilegious. Or it seems to miss the point: the glory of this voice, and the beats he pulled with a snap, was in its denial of this world, of its codes and clarities. The way you make me feel, you really turn me on, he sang. You give me fever like I’ve never, ever known, and you knock me off my feet. And so it was. And so it ever will be… – Kathryn Lofton in”The Way You Make Me Feel”, The University of Chicago Divinity School

About Kathryn Lofton


  • Whether in schoolrooms or kitchens, state houses or church pulpits, women have always been historians. Although few participated in the academic study of history until the mid-twentieth century, women functioned as primary translators and teachers, offering explanations, allegories, and scholastic narrations of the past. Though often lesser known that white women in the historical literature, black women wrote textbooks, pedagogical polemics, popular poems, and sermons assessing ancient Ethiopia, contemporary Liberia, the role of the female historian, and the future of the black race. This anthology aims to bring together approximately sixteen writings by African- American women between 1832 and 1920, the period when they began to write for American audiences and to use history to comment on political and social issues of the day. The pieces are by more familiar nineteenth-century writers in black America–like Maria Stewart, Francis E. W. Harper, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson–as well as lesser-known mothers and teachers whose participation in their local educational systems thrust them into national intellectual conversations. Each piece will have a headnote providing biographical information about its author as well as contextual information about its publication and the topic being discussed. The volume will contain a substantial introduction to the overall enterprise of black women’s historical writings. Because the editors are both trained in American Studies and religious history, their introduction will particularly highlight religious themes and venues in which these writings were presented. — About”Women’s Work: An Anthology of African-American Women’s Historical Writings from Antebellum America to the Harlem Renaissance”


  • Lofton’s research and writing on John Balcolm Shaw illuminates the contradiction between living in a society that simultaneously celebrates individual self-expression alongside the propagation of more socially restrictive structures. The Rev. John Balcom Shaw was a prominent Presbyterian church leader in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles who was deeply involved in the intellectual formation of American fundamentalism during the early twentieth century. After becoming president of Elmira College for Women, he was accused of the” crime of sodomy” by a series of anonymous letters posted to local preachers. Although initially discounted by his ministerial colleagues, stories and questions about his “improprieties toward young men” grew. Lofton’s paper traces how a subsequent investigation led to Shaw’s dismissal from ministry in 1918. Lofton uses this case as a point of departure to explore the complexity of early fundamentalism, and the interconnectedness of religious belief and sexual practice. A leader in the YMCA movement, Shaw’s life signifies the ambiguity of male relationships produced by this era of”muscular Christianity.” Her book-in-progress, The Modernity in Mr. Shaw: Fundamentalisms and Modernisms in American Culture, offers an analysis of the multiple ways modern men formed their identity through emergent institutions and contradictory social values. As Lofton states:”Like any human drama, [this] is a case maddening in its resistance to easy reduction.” — The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network (LGBT-RAN) honoring Dr. Kathryn Lofton as the 2006-07 recipient of its LGBT Religious History Award, for her paper,”Queering Fundamentalism: The Case of John Balcom Shaw (1860-1935)”

Posted on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Top Young Historians: 101- Holly Case


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

101: Holly Case, 3-9-09

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Cornell University, 2008-Present
Area of Research: Territorial revision and treatment of minorities during WWII; History of European renewal; History of media in East-Central and Southeastern Europe
Education: Ph.D. in History and Humanities, Stanford University, June 2004
Major Publications: Case is the author of Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII [forthcoming spring 2009, Stanford University Press] and the editor with
Holly Case JPGNorman M. Naimark if Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003).
She is also working on the manuscript Between the Lines: Contested Boundaries and the Fate of the Jews and other Minorities in Eastern Europe during WWII.
Case is also the author of numerous book chapters and reviews including among others:”Being European: East and West,” in European Identity, Jeffrey Checkel and Peter Katzenstein, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 111-131;”Territorial Revision and the Holocaust: The Case of Hungary and Slovakia during WWII” in Lessons and Legacies: From Generation to Generation, edited by Doris L. Bergen (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2008), pp. 222-244;”Between States: A Research Agenda,” in European Studies Forum (Autumn 2008) 38:2, pp. 113-119;”Navigating Identities: The Jews of Kolozsvár (Cluj) and the Hungarian Administration 1940-1944,” in Osteuropa vom Weltkrieg zur Wende, Wolfgang Mueller und Michael Portmann, eds. (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akedemie der Wissenschaften, 2007), pp. 39-53;”The Holocaust and the Transylvanian Question in the 20th Century” in The Holocaust in Hungary: Sixty Years Later (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2006), pp. 17-40.
Awards: Case is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
President’s Council of Cornell Women Affinito-Stewart Faculty Grant for research in Southeastern Europe, 2007;
Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (12/07-6/08), 2007;
Research fellowship from the East European Studies Program at the Wilson International Center for Scholars (Fall 2007);
Junior Faculty Research Grant from the Institute of European Studies, Cornell University, for research in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Bulgaria, 2006;
Cornell University Dean’s Grant for research trip to the Hoover Archives, Stanford University, 2006;
Cornell University Library Faculty Grant for Digital Collections in the amount of $36,025 to digitize part of CUL’s unique collection on the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s for the Integrated History website I created together with James Bjork (won spr. 2005, digitization to be completed by fall 2006, 2005;
Recipient of the Elizabeth Spilman Rosenfield Prize for Outstanding Dissertation Writing awarded by the Department of History at Stanford University, 2004;
Recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for dissertation research and write-up, 2003-2004 academic year, 2003;
Recipient of Fulbright-Hays fellowship for dissertation research and write-up, 2003-2004 academic year (declined), 2003;
Recipient of the J. and O. Winter Fund for Holocaust-related research at the USHMM during the winter of 2003, 2002;
Recipient of a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum fellowship for research at the USHMM (2-5/03) on the Jews of Kolozsvár/Cluj during WWII, 2002;
National Security Education Program graduate fellowship for study and research in Cluj, Romania and Budapest, Hungary, 2000;
Center for Russian and East European Studies fellowship for study and research (of Romanian language and inter-war Transylvanian history) at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania, 1999;
Fulbright Fellowship for study and research (on the subject of the Slovene- and German-language press in areas of the Habsburg Empire inhabited by Slovenes from 1848-51) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1997;
Frederick and Elsa Sell Scholarship for junior-year study in Szeged, Hungary, 1995;
National Security Education Program scholarship for summer study in Kraków, Poland, 1995.
Additional Info:
Founded Integrated History website, together with James Bjork (King’s College, London) includes over 80 digitized sources on the history of East-Central Europe for educators, students and scholars. Integrated History

Personal Anecdote

Much of history writing, as I understand it, consists of drawing connections between seemingly unrelated events or phenomena. In that tradition, I will try to explain how growing up in South Dakota prepared me for academia and the study of East-Central European history. As is the case with many East-Central European states and sub-state regions (Slovenia, Slovakia, Slavonia, etc.) not many people are able to differentiate between North and South Dakota. Indeed, I have found that, even shortly after hearing that I am from South Dakota, a new acquaintance will invariably ask me what it was like growing up in North Dakota. To confirm my suspicion that the conflation of the two in the minds of non-Dakotans is complete and indiscriminate, for a time I claimed to be from North Dakota. This control experiment-coupled with the testimonies of North Dakotans I knew-cemented the hypothesis I had drawn from previous encounters: namely that”Dakota” is an undifferentiated, static and monolithic near-void in the global collective consciousness (and perhaps even in reality).

Similarly, it is hardly uncommon for someone (say, a former president of the United States) to confuse Slovenia with Slovakia during a conversation with the prime minister of the former. Despite the resentment that such conflations invariably arouse, there are advantages to being undifferentiated. I met my now-husband thanks to the manner in which the various small Slavic nationalities are commonly conflated. Some years ago I was in my home town of Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace, a Kremlin-like structure the likes of which North Dakota does not-indeed cannot-possess, by virtue of it being the”world’s only”) when a local professor friend said he’d like me to meet a Slovak student of his, and wasn’t it fortunate that I speak Slovak (which I didn’t) so that I could communicate with this young man. It turned out, however, that the young man in question was about as Slovak as I am North Dakotan. In fact he was of an entirely different externally undifferentiated Slavic nationality. It turned out we had a lot in common, and shortly became even less differentiated than we had previously been.


By Holly Case

  • The Transylvanian Question-the struggle between Hungary and Romania for control of Transylvania-seems at first sight a side-show in the story of the Nazi New Order and the Second World War. These two allies of the Third Reich spent
    Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII JPGmuch of the war arguing bitterly among themselves over Transylvania’s future, and Europe’s leaders, Germany and Italy, were drawn into their dispute to prevent it from spiraling into a regional war. But precisely as a result of this interaction, the story of the Transylvanian Question offers a new way into the history of the European idea-how state leaders and national elites have interpreted what”Europe” means and what it does. For tucked into the folds of the Transylvanian Question’s bizarre genealogy is a secret that no one ever tried to keep, but that has remained a secret nonetheless: small states matter. The perspective of small states puts the struggle for mastery among its Great Powers into a new and perhaps chastening perspective. In short, when we look closely at what people in small states think and how they behave, the history of twentieth-century Europe looks suddenly very different. — Holly Case in”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”

About Holly Case

  • “A very original and sophisticated piece of work. . . . Full of new insights and. . . amazing research in a great variety of archives and languages. . . pulled together in a most intelligent way.” — Mark Mazower, Columbia University reviewing”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”


  • “This will take a rightful place among the really important and interesting works written on East Central Europe in the last forty years. It also figures among the most penetrating and memorable evocations of place written about Europe as a whole. The author is a brilliant, naturally gifted writer, with a keen sense for telling formulation.” — John Connelly, University of California, Berkeley reviewing”Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII”
  • “Yugoslav historians have been unwilling to debate the catastrophe that has overtaken Yugoslavia since the late 1980s. This collection edited by Naimark and Case is a welcome exception in which leading practitioners explore ‘images of the past’ as well as key factorss in the unsuccessful struggle of Yugoslavia to exist and renew itself under different social systems. — Slavic and Eastern European Review reviewing”Yugoslavia and Its Historians Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s”
  • “…nearly all of these essays are written, and written carefully and adroitly, by top-drawer scholars…. This is a commendable collection that will have enduring value for specialists and libraries as well as for graduate and even undergraduate students.” — Slavic and East European Journal reviewing”Yugoslavia and Its Historians Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s”
  • “Prof. Case is the best. Knows maybe too much about everything. Great lecturer, and funny too. Highly recommended.”…”V. interesting course, my favorite out of the lot so far. She’s also a great discussion leader.”…”Though her classes her pretty tough, I’ve learned more from Prof. Case than from any other professor at Cornell. She also happens to be extremley nice, and actually pretty cool for a Professor. Moreover, while she puts forth a heavy workload she is generous with her extensions as her sole objective is for you to learn.”…”Professor case is a wonderful professor who really cares about her students. She is a very fair grader who is willing to give extensions as long as you don’t ask her right before something is due. Her class was one of the most challenging I’ve taken but she is extremely bright and makes the material interesting. All in all, an excellent professor.”…”Professor Case is hands down the best professor I’ve had at Cornell. She cares about her students, is innovative in her assignments and is understanding. I genuinely looked forward to going to class. The readings were interesting and the discussions stimulating. She also happens to be insanely intelligent and a very warm hearted woman.”…”Prof Case is an amazing teacher who respects her students and their opinions. She’s extremely understanding and patient, and has a knack for making course material interesting and intellectually-stimulating. A truly inspiring professor.” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2009 at 1:35 AM

Top Young Historians: 100 – Jason M. Opal


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

100: Jason M. Opal, 2-16-09

Note: This is the 100th Top Young Historian HNN has profiled!

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History and George C. Wiswell Jr. Research Fellow, Colby College
Area of Research: Jacksonian Democracy and the politics of “vengeance” in early national America; international law in Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary public life; Thomas Paine and anti-imperialism in the eighteenth century
Education: Ph.D, History, Brandeis University, 2004.
Major Publications: Opal is the author of the Beyond the Farm: National Ambitions in Rural New England, University of Pennsylvania, March 2008, and the editor of Common Sense and Other Writings by Thomas Paine, Norton Critical Edition,
Jason M. Opal JPGforthcoming (under contract).
Opal is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “The Labors of Liberality: Christian Benevolence and National Prejudice in the American Founding,” Journal of American History, 94 (March 2008), lead article; “Exciting Emulation: Academies and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1780s-1820s,” Journal of American History, 91 (September 2004), lead article, winner of Binkley-Stephenson Award; “The Making of the Victorian Campus: Teacher and Student at Amherst College, 1850-1880,” History of Education Quarterly, 42 (2002). Featured and reviewed in November 2002 Chronicle of Higher Education; “The Politics of ‘Industry’: Federalism in Concord and Exeter, New Hampshire, 1790-1805,” Journal of the Early Republic, 20 (Winter 2000).
Opal is currently working on, “Freeborn Outlaws: Personal and National Sovereignties in Revolutionary North America, 1750-1830,” Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson and the Ordeal of the Early United States.
Awards: Opal is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Colby College, Class of 2006 Charles Bassett Teaching Award, 2006; Organization of American Historians, Binkley-Stephenson Award for Best Scholarly Article, 2005;
Colby College, George C. Wiswell, Jr. Research Fellowship in American History, 2004 to present;
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, 2002-03;
New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Regional Fellowship, Summer 2002;
American Antiquarian Society, Legacy Fellowship, Summer 2002;
Spencer Foundation/Brandeis University, Research Grant for Interdisciplinary Seminar on Education, 2002;
Brandeis University, Rose and Irwin Crown Fellowship in American History, 1998-2002;
Cornell University, Department of History, George S. Lustig Prize, Outstanding Senior, 1998.

Personal Anecdote

Historians should read cozy anecdotes with skepticism, but…well, when I was twelve, my family went to see Les Miserables at the Shubert Theater in Boston. I was swept away by the dramatic tale of hunger and poverty, redemption and rebellion. During the car ride home, I kept pestering my parents and my brother with all manner of questions. Why did so many people suffer? Were things really so bad in nineteenth-century France? Why hadn’t the Revolution of 1789 made life better? A few years later, the quick collapse of the Soviet Empire-and the brutal repression of the democratic protests in China-made these historical questions seem all the more real and vital and living.

So, I went to college knowing I would major in history and thinking I would study revolutions. Because of the great professors I met at Cornell and then Brandeis, I came to focus on the American Revolution and its aftermath. Where did this revolution come from? What did it accomplish? How does it continue to shape, define, and diminish democracy in America? As a teacher and scholar, I try to use many different strands of analysis so that I can ask big questions and study enduring themes. My first book was a study of ambition in the post-Revolutionary age, especially among the rural households of New England; my new project is about vengeance and its ascent in American foreign policy and nationalism. (My wife, Holly, jokes that I’m writing a series about the seven deadly sins of the early United States. First ambition, now vengeance…) I’m also working on an edited collection of Tom Paine’s work, which has allowed me to learn again about a thinker and radical I thought I knew.

In any case, corny as it sounds, I try to retain a childish enthusiasm for the study of the past. This is fairly easy to do, because I am more and more convinced that studying history is an ethical as well as intellectual journey. By revealing to us the whole sweep of the human drama, across huge swaths of space and time, and by enabling us to comprehend people unlike ourselves, history jars us out of a narrow, shallow self-regard. It can make us more humble and decent, more compassionate and curious. So I consider myself very lucky to be able to learn and teach and write history for a living.


By Jason M. Opal

  • The eventual emergence of ambition into a national creed was of course a long and fitful process, full of continuities and adaptations, through which the prevailing values of a primarily rural and household-based society gave way to those of a largely urban and individualized one. That much is clear. But the slow and uneven pace of cultural evolution can conceal rather sudden shifts in the cultural climate, after which certain ideas, conceits, and institutions gain traction while others give ground. The ensuing changes do not simply reveal and reflect the social and economic trajectories we now see; they also help to make those trends happen, and to frame how people remember and respond to them. To recognize this is not to impose simplicity on a kaleidoscopic world, nor to replace “material” explanations with purely ideological ones. It is, instead, to appreciate the interplay of ideas and circumstances, of aspirations and situations, within particular stages of recoverable history.One of these cultural shifts began in the United States during the late 1780s, after the narrow victory of the Federal Constitution over more localized hopes for the new states. With the creation of the “extended republic” came a widespread effort to uproot households and communities from their provincial identities and to align them Beyond the Farm National Ambitions in Rural New England JPG with national judgments of self and success, value and virtue, public need and personal worth. While trying to turn a specific kind of ambition into an organizing principle of national life, this effort also took aim at alternate, more familiar, and typically more viable forms of aspiration for those living in a rural social order of laboring households and interdependent neighbors. More and less than a set of adaptations to market expansion and integration, “the installation of ambition” was a discernible project, a drawn-out campaign that entailed innovations in both the imaginative and discursive realm (how people thought and ideas operated) and the institutional and social terrain (how people were conditioned and resources deployed). It also occasioned a moral controversy that mostly ensued, not between social groups or political factions, but within communities, families, and individuals. This book offers a social history of that personal and cultural struggle-a story of restless sons and ambivalent fathers, resilient women and defeated men, bright-eyed reformers and hard-bitten neighbors.The restless sons were the focal points of the changes and conflicts at hand, because they, more than their sisters, stood to inherit both the local properties that brought independence and the national society that promised (and demanded) something more. For this reason, young men predominate in the pages that follow. But how to study them? Who to investigate and who to leave out? Any attempt to generalize about the young men of the young republic will tend to exaggerate the appeal and momentum of the project to promote ambition. It will also miss the inner struggles that ambitious striving brought (and still brings). A resort to biography, on the other hand, would lose the collective sway and texture of the larger effort in the details of a single life. By way of both narrative design and methodological compromise, then, I have crafted this history of ambition around six young men who found that passion to be compelling, inspiring, or necessary in their lives, and who therefore sought to transcend a social world and personal identity built on independence. — Jason M. Opal in “Beyond the Farm National Ambitions in Rural New England”
  • Of all the keynote speakers who addressed their respective states on July 4, 1788, the Rev. Enos Hitchcock of Providence, Rhode Island may have had the most difficult task. Two weeks earlier, New Hampshire, the requisite ninth state, had approved the Federal Constitution; a few days after that, leading Federalists from Providence had tapped him to make a “suitable” oration on the approaching holiday. Like most Providence residents-and almost every Congregationalist pastor-Hitchcock supported the new Constitution as a vital reply to social unrest and fiscal chaos. The rural majorities of Rhode Island, however, overwhelmingly opposed the plan, and on the night of July 3rd, hundreds or possibly thousands of them (some armed) marched to the seaport and told the authorities to banish any mention of ratification from the next day’s festivities. The event should herald independence only, they insisted. Meanwhile, black residents planned another celebration, one that would suitably applaud the state’s recent decision to criminalize the slave trade. “May Unity prevail throughout all Nations,” they toasted. Rev. Hitchcock shared these enlightened aspirations and tightly associated them with the Federalist cause. But he also knew that his listeners would include slave-owners as well as Anti-Federalists, and that these men had very different hopes for the new nation than he did.As it happened, Hitchcock may have been the perfect man for the delicate job. Contemporaries recall him as an affable gentleman who enjoyed creature comforts and social harmony. Having married into independent wealth, he had a talent for looking on the bright side of things and promoting the virtues espoused by his church, the First or Benevolent Congregational Society. Noting that religion was a blessing to “all nations of the world,” its charter welcomed “any good man” to a fellowship based “not on the prejudice of party, but on the broad basis of Christian philanthropy.” Ever since his settlement in 1783, Hitchcock had tried to heal the sectarian rifts that raged with special intensity in his adopted state. All of his public addresses during the 1780s stressed the virtues of denominational harmony, and at least two of them closed with his stated hope for a future in which “universal love smiles on all around.” If anyone could please everyone, it was the Benevolent pastor.However unique he was for his geniality, though, Hitchcock was not a seminal interpreter of either Christian or Enlightenment morality. Even admiring members of the Benevolent Church recall that he was “seldom original” and “not profound” in the pulpit. Compared to the Rev. Samuel Hopkins of Newport, Rhode Island, among others, Hitchcock was a theological lightweight. And although he belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati and knew many of the leading lights of the infant republic, he had little influence in national politics. Hitchcock’s significance derives instead from his earnest, even caricatured embrace of a moral and political identity that peaked during the 1780s; he is important for what he reflects rather than what he accomplished. Along with a wide range of public figures, this pastor considered “liberality” the indispensable quality for the people and institutions of a presumably enlightened age. He was determined both to be liberal and to spread liberal values, and never more so than during his July 4th, 1788 oration. — Jason M. Opal in “Exciting Emulation: Academies and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1780s-1820s,” Journal of American History, 91 (September 2004)”

About Jason M. Opal

  • “Through the lives of six ‘ordinary’ rural men who left their fathers’ farms in search of something better, Jason Opal explains how ambition came to stand near the center of U.S. national character. Both a collective biography and a sweeping historical synthesis, Beyond the Farm sheds new light on the transformation of civil society and boldly revises our understanding of the emergence of capitalism.” — Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma
  • Rural Americans in the early republic discovered that they were capable of being much more than what their fathers had been. This assumption, that hard work–what was then called enterprise and self-improvement– could make one better than one’s original lot, was a fundamental change in how young rural American men thought about their own identities and lives. It required, first, recognizing that change was good, and that one could and even should reject one’s family’s longstanding practices. The second, central to J. M. Opal’s argument in this insightful, well-written book, was ambition–the fostering of a desire to improve one’s self, to better one’s own lot in life…..
    No institution was more important than the academy. In Opal’s best chapter, he demonstrates how the national elites’ goals for the new republic spurred the proliferation of private academies around New England….
    Democratic ambition rejected the classical fear that ambitious elites would threaten society. Instead, it redefined ambition as a healthy spur to self-improvement for all citizens. If today that drive has led to a materialistic, shallow, overly individualistic society, we cannot forget that in the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War it also liberated the human spirit. Let us thank Opal, therefore, for historicizing ambition and its public spiritedness in the past and hope with him that if ambition “worked differently in the past it might do so in the future” (p. 192). — Johann Neem (Department of History, Western Washington University), H-SHEAR (August, 2008)
  • This elegantly written and carefully argued article examines those rural private academies that were :the primary educational innovation of the new republic,” their effort to impose discipline and encourage student achievement by “emulation” (essentially encouraging students to follow the example of others who excelled), and the resistance the academies provoked within their communities. Although situated within the larger debate over preindustrial mentalités, the article deemphasizes the signifi cance of an emerging market economy. Both sides in the debate over academies worked within the constraints of a developing capitalistic system; both, moreover, could claim justifi cation within the ideology of the revolution. And yet their responses to an initiative that emphasized liberal education over basic skills and individual achievement over corporate eff ort marked an important divide in early American society and culture. By sympathetically interpreting those responses, tracing their roots, and explaining their implications, Opal provides a fresh, evocative perspective on an important part of post-revolutionary America. — Bruce Levine, University of California, Santa Cruz; Pauline Maier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair; and James H. Merrell, Vassar College, upon awarding the Organization of American Historians’ Binkley-Stephenson Award in 2005 for the best scholarly article published in the Journal of American History during the preceding calendar year
  • “Professor Opal is one of the best professors at Colby. He is intelligent, compassionate, fair, challenging, interesting, bold and cultured. I could not respect him any more than I do.”…
    “Amazing professor – incredibly passionate and transfers the same passion to his students. A must at Colby – you have to take a class with this man, and take advantage of his open door office hours…. Super approachable and endlessly helpful.”…
    “He’s the best professor I’ve ever had! I hate history and now I want to take another class with him.”…
    “He’s the best professor I’ve ever had! I hate history and now I want to take another class with him.”…
    “I love the class. He is so passionate about the subject you can’t help but be interested too! He is very helpful outside of class, too, and is a great prof. to just have a quality conversation with.”…
    “I love him. His classes are so interesting, and organized, he always has a very detailed syllabus, and he’s a very helpful paper-grader. He also tastefully sprinkles his lectures with jokes, baseball analogies, and references to The Onion.”…
    “sooo engaging, really into the material, young enough to relate to the students.”
    “Prof Opal is a really great teacher and is really enthusiastic about the material. I am definitely going to take another class with him….”
    “Really great lectures… good guy too… I’d take another class!” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Monday, February 16, 2009 at 1:17 AM

Top Young Historians: 99 – Christopher E. Forth


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

99: Christopher E. Forth, 2-9-09

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Howard Professor of Humanities & Western Civilization, University of Kansas
Area of Research: Cultural history of gender, sexuality and the body, modern European intellectual and cultural history, modern France
Education: Ph.D., History, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1994
Major Publications: Forth is the author of Masculinity in the Modern West: Gender, Civilization and the Body (Palgrave, 2008), The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004; paperback 2006), and Christopher E. Forth JPGZarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2001).
He has also co-edited Sexuality at the Fin de Siècle: The Makings of a “Central Problem” (University of Delaware Press, 2008), French Masculinities: History, Culture and Politics (Palgrave, 2007), Cultures of the Abdomen: Diet, Digestion and Fat in the Modern World (Palgrave, 2005), and Body Parts: Critical Explorations in Corporeality (Lexington, 2005).
Forth has written numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, including “Surviving our Paradoxes? Masculinity, Modernity, and the Body,” Culture, Society and Masculinities, 1, no. 1 (Spring 2009); “Manhood Incorporated: Diet and the Embodiment of ‘Civilized’ Masculinity,” Men and Masculinities (2009); “The Novelization of the Dreyfus Affair: Women and Sensation in Fin-de-Siècle France,” in Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation, edited by Andrew Maunder and Grace Moore (London: Ashgate, 2004), 163-178; “Neurasthenia and Manhood in Fin-de-Siècle France,” in Cultures of Neurasthenia from Beard to the First World War, Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra and Roy Porter, eds. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001), 329-361; and “Bodies of Christ: Gender, Jewishness, and Religious Imagery in the Dreyfus Affair.” History Workshop Journal, 48 (Autumn 1999): 18-38.
He is currently writing a book entitled Flab: A Cultural History of Obesity, which is under contract with Reaktion Books (UK). Awards: Forth is the recipient of numerous research grants and fellowships, including:
Keeler Intra-University Professorship from the University of Kansas (2010);
Two Discovery Grants from the Australian Research Council (2006);
Two small grants from the Australian Research Council (1999, 2000);
Five faculty research grants from the Australian National University (1998-2004);
Travel grant from the Wellcome Trust for the History of Medicine (2001);
Three faculty research grants from the University of Memphis (1995-97);
Camargo Foundation Fellowship (1993);
Younger Scholars Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1987).
While teaching in Australia Forth also won a Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning [“For Developing Innovative and Effective Multimedia Techniques for the Research-Driven Teaching of European and American Cultural History”] (2006) and a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Australian National University (2006).
Additional Info:
Editorial Advisory Board, Men and Masculinities;
Editorial Board, Culture, Society and Masculinities.

Personal Anecdote

When I was in fifth grade my teacher announced to the class that I would grow up to be a historian. Not that I took this very seriously: I just happened to know who Patrick Henry was, and was pretty sure that, whatever a historian did, it must be pretty boring. In fact it was not until tenth grade that the idea of an academic life began to hold any kind of appeal for me. This was not because of what I learned in any high school history class, but from stumbling upon a tattered copy of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in my English class. My teacher said I could have the book “as long as you read it.” I did and it changed my life, generating an interest in the history of ideas that led me to literature, philosophy and social theory. I found each of these fields fascinating, but apparently so hemmed in by disciplinary conventions that focusing on any one of them seemed tantamount to bidding farewell to the others. When I began my university work I settled on history because it seemed like an open intellectual space in which to examine virtually anything pertaining to human society so long as it happened in the past. Ultimately what attracted me to history was its sense of openness and possibility, apparently limited only by the questions one brought to it. I’m not sure what my fifth grade teacher would have to say about this, but it seems she was right after all.

My specific interest in the cultural history of gender, sexuality and the body was sparked during my final semester of graduate school and has never ceased to inform my work. Feeling the need to make sure I had read “everything” on my period before submitting my dissertation on the first French reception of Nietzsche’s work, I happened upon Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture (1986), and quickly became enthralled. Dijkstra’s rich analysis of how depictions of women in art and literature were informed by developments in biology, psychology, medicine and social theory – and how many of these representations seemed like compensations for a spectrum of male anxieties – completely changed my view of intellectual and cultural history. I became sensitive to how gendered language is often used to describe social and political phenomena, and reflected on the numerous instances in my dissertation where I had treated such language uncritically. A closer focus on how various groups described Nietzsche and his followers in gendered terms seemed worth pursuing, and while it was impractical to recast the dissertation at that late date, I developed this theme more fully when revising the text for publication. Thanks to these new insights the end result, Zarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918, provided a more complex perspective on the dynamics of cultural reception and intellectual politics, and a springboard for much of my subsequent work.


By Christopher E. Forth

  • One of the ironies of the gendered discourse of civilization is that, despite the terror, torture, warfare Masculinity in the Modern West JPGand domestic violence that is
  • perpetuated in the world, it is the capacity to enact and endure violence that is often represented as one of the most unjustly repressed aspects of male experience. Yet if violence and warfare are so often celebrated for their “regenerative” potential, it is perhaps because the more positive ideals of sacrifice and self-denial that defined the warrior code have, since the early eighteenth century, been systematically challenged by developments that emphasize the value of self-indulgence and softer lifestyles. While peace has been celebrated throughout modern history, it has also been criticized for its tendency to make individuals and societies complacent and weak. — Christopher E. Forth in “Masculinity in the Modern West (2008)”

About Christopher E. Forth

  • ‘Forth’s ambitious panoramic history of western masculinity is sweepingly broad, yet Forth has a keen eye for the revealing detail. With an analysis as sharp as his style is clear and erudite, Forth’s reach never exceeds his grasp. This is a most impressive work!’ — Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology at SUNY/Stony Brook and editor of Men and Masculinities
  • ‘Christopher Forth’s survey of masculinity in the West is the first historical synthesis of the rich literature in this field. He puts familiar materials together in surprising new ways and presents readers with some highly original and provocative interpretations that will prove to be important contributions to gender studies and cultural history. The wit and deftness of Forth’s style and his well-chosen examples make it a sheer delight to read.’ — Robert A. Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus, Oregon State University
  • “This is an important, extraordinary book. Forth demonstrates, with great acumen and wit, how the Dreyfus Affair transformed masculinity and corporeal experience in fin-de-siècle France” — Journal of Social History reviewing “The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood”
  • “an original and exciting new book . . . Forth uses the Dreyfus Affair as a means to explore not only the contingency of manhood but also the subtle ways in which gender norms are implicated in racist imagery, class boundaries, and the construction of the intellectual in fin-de-siècle France” — American Historical Review
  • “an engaging and illuminating study . . . Forth reframes our understanding of the overall stakes of the battle between republican intellectuals and the forces of reaction” — Journal of Modern History
  • “an important, innovative work [that offers] a more complex and rich picture not only of the Dreyfus Affair, but also of the concerns of the period with regard to manhood, medicine and modernity” — Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
  • “By shifting the main focus from race to gender, from anti-Semitism to masculinity, Forth demonstrates just how deeply rooted in French culture the Dreyfus Affair was. If it was fears about the degeneracy of French masculinity that underlay the Affair, then the hysteria it generated is somewhat more comprehensible” — H-France
  • “Forth boldly sets out to fashion a fresh perspective, armed with the methodological insights of cultural histories of the body . . . . a strongly argued, well-illustrated and well-researched book” — European History Quarterly
  • “This work is significant because of the way it boldly reinterprets a staple subject in mainstream political history by examining questions of gender anxiety” — History: The Journal of the Historical Association
  • “Very intelligent man with a real passion for the subject.”….
    He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He is clearly very knowledgeable on the subject. His lectures are informative. If you enjoy the material, he is great, and I could not recommend him more.” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 1:46 AM