Kirsten Fischer

Photo of Kirsten Fischer

Contact Me

kfischer@umn.edu
612-626-4456

Department of History
1049 HellerH

271 19th Ave S

Affiliations

I am currently writing the biography of a religious freethinker who believed his ideas would change the world for the better. The book is titled American Infidel: Elihu Palmer's Visionary Religion in the Early United States (under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press). For a sampling of this work, see articles in the William and Mary Quarterly, July, 2016, and common-place.org, Spring 2015. Although an early Americanist by training, my research and teaching include much 20th-century history, with a focus on the "culture wars" over religion and politics. I am also interested in memoir as a lens into the past, and I offer courses on "History through Memoir." I love to teach, and in April 2011 I was honored to receive the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. In 2011/12, I was a Fulbright scholar at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany. My first book, Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina (Cornell, 2002), explores the dynamics of racism in the 18th century. It focuses on the interactions of ordinary people in a slave society, and on the way their intimate relationships (and the treatment of these in court) made racial difference seem increasingly real. I received my Ph.D. from Duke University.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: History, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1994.
  • MA: History, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1989.
  • B.A. (cum laude): Comparative Literature, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1985.

Curriculum Vitae

Specialties

  • Colonial and Revolutionary America
  • U.S. social and intellectual history
  • American Religious History
  • Cultural encounters in early America
  • Radicalism in Early America
  • Women, gender, and sexuality in early America
  • Race and racial ideologies in early America
Courses Taught
  • Religion and the American Culture Wars
  • History through Memoir
  • "Sinners, Saints, and Savages": Religious Encounters in Early America
  • Radicalism in Early America
  • Authority and Rebellion: U.S. History to 1865
  • The American Enlightenment and Religion (graduate seminar)
  • Religion and Society in Early America (graduate seminar)
  • Religion and Radicalism in Early America (graduate seminar)
  • History, Religion, and the Culture Wars (graduate survey)
  • Nationalism and Expansion in the Early Republic (graduate seminar)
  • Race in Early North America (graduate seminar)
Research & Professional Activities

Research

  • American Infidel: Elihu Palmer's Visionary Religion in the Early United States : Elihu Palmer, a former Presbyterian minister, made it his life's work to share the most radical ideas of the European Enlightenment with his American audience. Palmer gave weekly lectures and published a book that described the universe as comprised of a singular substance, endless and eternally in motion. Palmer's work challenges the scholarship that has described the American Enlightenment as a strictly moderate affair. Awareness of Palmer's efforts will recast current debates over the impact of religion in the new nation.

Outreach

  • “Religious Freedom Then: James Madison and the Fight for Religious Freedom in Virginia,“ an interactive workshop with high school students involved in LEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity), a project of the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition, Carondolet Center, St. Paul, MN, October 21, 2010.:
  • “Religion and the Founders,“ Two-day seminar for the Chicago “Teachers as Scholars“ project, Newberry Library, Chicago, May 1-2, 2008.:
  • "Religion and the Founders," "Reeling in the Revolution: The American Revolution on Film": Two presentations and a roundtable discussion as part of the "Historians in the Schools" project for St. Paul Public School Teachers, June 18-19, 2007
  • "American Founders and the Founding Documents": Three-part seminar for high school teachers as part of the "Historians in the Schools" grant project. Minnesota Historical Society, February 15, 2006
  • “Teaching Revolutionary America.“ Two-day (7-part) Teacher Institute Seminar for high school teachers as part of the “Teaching American History“ grant project. Humanities Education Center of the Minnesota Humanities Commission, Nov. 11-12, 2005.:
  • "Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal": Interactive lecture given at the Bridge for American History workshop for teachers, Minnesota Historical Society, October 22, 2002 and January 28, 2004,
Publications
  • "Vitalism in America: Elihu Palmer's Radical Religion in the Early Republic": Fischer, Kirsten, William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 73, pp. 501-530,, 2016. Download
  • "Cosmic Kinship: John Stewart's 'Sensate Matter' in the Early Republic": Fischer, Kirsten, Common-Place.org, 15:3 , Spring, 2015. Link
  • "Religion": Fischer, Kirsten, Mark G. Spencer, Bloomsbury Academic Press, The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, 2015.
  • “˜Religion Governed by Terror’: A Deist Critique of Fearful Christianity in the Early American Republic“: Fischer, Kirsten, Revue Franí§aise D'í‰tudes Américaines, No. 125 13-26, 3e Trimestre, 2010.
  • "'As Near to Atheism as Twilight is to Darkness': Thomas Paine's Deism in a Religious Republic": Fischer, Kirsten, San Diego State University Press, Thomas Paine: Common Sense for the Modern Era, 260-273, 2007.
  • Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina. Fischer, Kirsten, Cornell University Press, 2002.
  • Colonial American History. Fischer, Kirsten, Co-edited with Eric Hinderaker, Blackwell Readers in American Social and Cultural History, Author, 2002.
  • "The Imperial Gaze: Native American, African American, and Colonial Women in European Eyes": Fischer, Kirsten, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, The Blackwell Companion to American Women's History, 3-19, 2002.
  • "In Retrospect: The Career of Francis Jennings": Fischer, Kirsten, Reviews in American History, 30:4 517-529, 2002.
  • "Sex, Race, and the Colonial Project": Fischer, Kirsten, William and Mary Quarterly, 60:1 197-198, 2003.
  • 'Common Disturbers of the Peace': The Politics of White Women's Sexual Misconduct in Colonial North Carolina.: Fischer, Kirsten, Beyond Image and Convention: Explorations in Southern Women's History, 1998.
  • 'False, Feigned, and Scandalous Words': Sexual Slander and Racial Ideology Among Whites in Colonial North Carolina: Fischer, Kirsten, The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South, 1997.
Awards
  • Fulbright Award. Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2011-2012
  • Recipient of the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, 2011
  • Deutsche Bank Junior Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship, Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2008 - 2009
  • University of Minnesota: McKnight Research Award, 2007 - 2010
  • Chair's Initiative Faculty Research Grant, 2007
  • NEH Summer Fellowship, 2002
  • University of Minnesota: Grant-in-Aid Fellowship, 2001 - 2002
  • University of Minnesota: McKnight Summer Fellowship, 2001
  • The Newberry Library, Chicago: NEH/Lloyd Lewis post-doctoral fellowship, 1999
  • Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah: post-doctoral fellowship, 1998
  • 1993-94 National Endowment for the Humanities: Dissertation Grant, 1993-1994
  • American Historical Association: Michael Kraus Research Grant, 1991