Recent Faculty Publications
Erika Lee. America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States
Basic Books, 2019
The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America.
Jean O'Brien. Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit
University of North Carolina Press, 2019
Installed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1921 to commemorate the tercentenary of the landing of the Pilgrims, Cyrus Dallin's statue Massasoit was intended to memorialize the Pokanoket Massasoit (leader) as a welcoming diplomat and participant in the mythical first Thanksgiving. But after the statue's unveiling, Massasoit began to move and proliferate in ways one would not expect of generally stationary monuments tethered to place. The plaster model was donated to the artist's home state of Utah and prominently displayed in the state capitol; half a century later, it was caught up in a surprising case of fraud in the fine arts market. Versions of the statue now stand on Brigham Young University's campus; at an urban intersection in Kansas City, Missouri; and in countless homes around the world in the form of souvenir statuettes.
Elaine Tyler May. Digital Fortress: How We Embraced Fear and Abandoned Democracy
Hatchette Book Group, 2017
For the last sixty years, fear has seeped into every area of American life: Americans own more guns than citizens of any other country, sequester themselves in gated communities, and retreat from public spaces. And yet, crime rates have plummeted, making life in America safer than ever. Why, then, are Americans so afraid-and where does this fear lead to?
In this remarkable work of social history, Elaine Tyler May demonstrates how our obsession with security has made citizens fear each other and distrust the government, making America less safe and less democratic. Fortress America charts the rise of a muscular national culture, undercutting the common good. Instead of a thriving democracy of engaged citizens, we have become a paranoid, bunkered, militarized, and divided vigilante nation.
Michael Lower. The Tunis Crusade of 1270: A Mediterranean History
Oxford University Press, 2018.
Why did the last of the major European campaigns to reclaim Jerusalem end in an attack on Tunis, a peaceful North African port city thousands of miles from the Holy Land? In the first book-length study of the campaign in English, Michael Lower tells the story of how the classic era of crusading came to such an unexpected end. Unfolding against a backdrop of conflict and collaboration that extended from England to Inner Asia, the Tunis Crusade entangled people from every corner of the Mediterranean world. Within this expansive geographical playing field, the ambitions of four powerful Mediterranean dynasts would collide. While the slave-boy-turned-sultan Baybars of Egypt and the saint-king Louis IX of France waged a bitter battle for Syria, al-Mustansir of Tunis and Louis's younger brother Charles of Anjou struggled for control of the Sicilian Straits. When the conflicts over Syria and Sicily became intertwined in the late 1260s, the Tunis Crusade was the shocking result.
Katharine Gerbner. Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018
Could slaves become Christian? If so, did their conversion lead to freedom? If not, then how could perpetual enslavement be justified? In Christian Slavery, Katharine Gerbner contends that religion was fundamental to the development of both slavery and race in the Protestant Atlantic world. Slave owners in the Caribbean and elsewhere established governments and legal codes based on an ideology of "Protestant Supremacy," which excluded the majority of enslaved men and women from Christian communities. For slaveholders, Christianity was a sign of freedom, and most believed that slaves should not be eligible for conversion.
Anna Clark. Alternative Histories of the Self: A Cultural History of Sexuality and Secrets, 1762-1917.
Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2017
Alternative Histories of the Self investigates how people re-imagined the idea of the unique self in the period from 1762 to 1917. Some used the notion of the unique self to justify their gender and sexual transgression, but others rejected the notion of the unique self and instead demanded the sacrifice of the self for the good of society. Instead of focusing on the thoughts of great thinkers, this book explores how five unusual individuals twisted conventional ideas of the self as they interpreted their own lives.
Kathryn Reyerson. Mother and Sons, Inc.: Martha de Cabanis in Medieval Montpellier
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.
In the late 1320s, Martha de Cabanis was widowed with three young sons, eleven, eight, and four years of age. Her challenges would be many: to raise and train her children to carry on their father's business; to preserve that business until they were ready to take over; and to look after her own financial well-being. Examining the visible trail Martha left in Montpellier's notarial registers and other records, Kathryn L. Reyerson reveals a wealth of information about her activities, particularly in the area of business, commerce, and real estate. From these formal, contractual documents, Reyerson gleans something of Martha's personality and reconstructs what she may have done, and a good deal of what she actually did, in her various roles of daughter, wife, mother, and widow.