Books by Fellows

A Colonial Affair: Commerce, Conversion, and Scandal in French India
Danna Agmon (Thom Fellow, 2015–16)

Danna Agmon’s gripping microhistory is a vivid guide to the “Nayiniyappa Affair” in the French colony of Pondicherry, India. The surprising and shifting fates of Nayiniyappa and his family form the basis of this story of global mobilization, which is replete with merchants, missionaries, local brokers, government administrators, and even the French royal family.

Uncertain Refuge
Elizabeth Allen (Fletcher Jones Fellow, 2012–13)

To seek sanctuary from persecution by entering a sacred space is an act of desperation, but also a symbolic endeavor: fugitives invoke divine presence to reach a precarious safe haven that imbues their lives with religious, social, or political significance. In medieval England, sanctuary was upheld under both canon and common law, and up to five hundred people sought sanctuary every year. What they found, however, was not so much a static refuge as a temporary respite from further action—confession and exile—or from further violence—jurisdictional conflict, harrying or starvation, a breaching of the sanctuary.

Imagining the African American West
Blake Allmendinger (NEH Fellow, 2000-01)

The literature of the African American West is the last racial discourse of the region that remains unexplored. Blake Allmendinger addresses this void in literary and cultural studies with Imagining the African American West—the first comprehensive study of African American literature on the early frontier and in the modern urban American West.

Caribbean Exchanges: Slavery and the Transformation of English Society, 1640-1700
Susan Amussen (Mellon Fellow, 2002-03)

English colonial expansion in the Caribbean was more than a matter of migration and trade. It was also a source of social and cultural change within England. Finding evidence of cultural exchange between England and the Caribbean as early as the seventeenth century, Susan Dwyer Amussen uncovers the learned practice of slaveholding.

The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire
Clifford Ando (NCLS Fellow, 2004-05)

What did the Romans know about their gods? Why did they perform the rituals of their religion, and what motivated them to change those rituals? To these questions Clifford Ando proposes simple answers: In contrast to ancient Christians, who had faith, Romans had knowledge, and their knowledge was empirical in orientation.

Civil Wars: A History in Ideas
David Armitage (Mellon Fellow, 2006-07)

A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day.

The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England
Eric H. Ash (Dibner Fellow, 2013-14)

The draining of the Fens in eastern England was one of the largest engineering projects in seventeenth-century Europe. A series of Dutch and English "projectors," working over several decades and with the full support of the Crown, transformed hundreds of thousands of acres of putatively barren wetlands into dry, arable farmland.

Storm of the Sea: Indians and Empires in the Atlantic's Age of Sail
Matthew R. Bahar (NEH, 2014-15)

Narratives of cultural encounter in colonial North America often contrast traditional Indian coastal-dwellers and intrepid European seafarers. In Storm of the Sea, Matthew R. Bahar instead tells the forgotten history of Indian pirates hijacking European sailing ships on the rough waters of the north Atlantic and of an Indian navy pressing British seamen into its ranks.

The Marble Index: Roubiliac and Sculptural Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Malcolm Baker (Mellon Fellow, 2007-08)

Providing the first thorough study of sculptural portraiture in 18th-century Britain, this important book challenges both the idea that portrait necessarily implies painting and the assumption that Enlightenment thought is manifest chiefly in French art. By considering the bust and the statue as genres, Malcolm Baker, a leading sculpture scholar, addresses the question of how these seemingly traditional images developed into ambitious forms of representation within a culture in which many core concepts of modernity were being formed.

Empire of Letters: Letter Manuals and Transatlantic Correspondence, 1680-1820
Eve Bannet (NEH Fellow, 2003-04)

Among the most frequently reprinted books of the long eighteenth century, English, Scottish and American letter manuals spread norms of polite conduct and communication, which helped to connect and unify different regions of the British Atlantic world, even as they fostered and helped to create very different local and regional cultures and values.

A book cover with a green painting of stormy water and drowning people, title reads "After the Flood'"
After the Flood: Imagining the Global Environment in Early Modern Europe
Lydia Barnett (Dibner, 2021-22)

How the story of Noah's Flood was central to the development of a global environmental consciousness in early modern Europe.

Many centuries before the emergence of the scientific consensus on climate change, people began to imagine the existence of a global environment: a natural system capable of changing humans and of being changed by them. In After the Flood, Lydia Barnett traces the history of this idea back to the early modern period, when the Scientific Revolution, the Reformations, the Little Ice Age, and the overseas expansion of European empire, religion, and commerce gave rise to new ideas about nature, humanity, and their intersecting histories.

Recovering a forgotten episode in the history of environmental thought, Barnett brings to light the crucial role of religious faith and conflict in the emergence of a global environmental consciousness. Following Noah's Flood as a popular topic of debate through long-distance networks of knowledge from the late sixteenth through the early eighteenth centuries, Barnett reveals how early modern earth and environmental sciences were shaped by gender, evangelism, empire, race, and nation.

The Cambridge History of American Literature: Volume 4, Nineteenth-Century Poetry, 1800-1910
Sacvan Bercovitch (Times Mirror Distinguished Fellow, 1994-95)

The contributors to this volume discuss the extraordinary literary achievement of nineteenth century American poetry in its social and cultural contexts. Key contributions explore the early Federalist poets; the achievements of Longfellow and Whittier; and the distinctive lyric forms developed by Emerson and the Transcendentalists.

Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough’s “Cottage Door”
Ann Bermingham (NEH Fellow, 2003-04)

Late in his career Thomas Gainsborough became preoccupied with the theme of the cottage door, and he created a group of paintings and drawings that show rustic figures clustered around the open door of a cottage set in a deeply wooded landscape. Often seen as exemplars of the rural idyll, these works were among the first landscape paintings to reflect the eighteenth-century aesthetic of sensibility.

The Bishop’s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru (The Early Modern Americas)
Emily Berquist Soule (Dibner Fellow, 2010–11)

Based on intensive archival research in Peru, Spain, and Colombia and the unique visual data of more than a thousand extraordinary watercolors, The Bishop’s Utopia recreates the intellectual, cultural, and political universe of the Spanish Atlantic world in the late 18th century.

Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World
Allison Bigelow (Thom Fellow, 2017-18)

Mineral wealth from the Americas underwrote and undergirded European colonization of the New World. Building upon works that have narrated this global history of American mining in economic and labor terms, Mining Language is the first book-length study of the technical and scientific vocabularies that miners developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as they engaged with metallic materials.

Of Essays and Reading in Early Modern Britain
Scott Black (Thom Fellow, 2002-03)

Of Essays and Reading in Early Modern Britain traces the co-evolution of the essay and the mode of literacy it enabled. Focusing on the interactive processes of reading captured by the form, Of Essays offers a new approach to early modern textuality

American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era
David W. Blight (Rogers Distinguished Fellow, 2010-11)

David Blight takes his readers back to the centennial celebration to determine how Americans then made sense of the suffering, loss, and liberation that had wracked the United States a century earlier. Amid cold war politics and civil rights protest, four of America's most incisive writers explored the gulf between remembrance and reality.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
David W. Blight (Rogers Distinguished Fellow, 2010-11)

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Frederick Douglass's newspapers. Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.

The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence
Timothy Breen (Times Mirror Distinguished Fellow, 1997-98)

The Marketplace of Revolution offers a boldly innovative interpretation of the mobilization of ordinary Americans on the eve of independence. Breen explores how colonists who came from very different ethnic and religious backgrounds managed to overcome difference and create a common cause capable of galvanizing resistance.

Law, Lawyers and Litigants in Early Modern England: Essays in Memory of Christopher W. Brooks
Christopher Brooks (Fletcher Jones, 2012-13)

Written in memory of Christopher W. Brooks, this collection of essays by prominent historians examines and builds on the scholarly legacy of the leading historian of early modern English law, society and politics.

Other Things
Bill Brown (Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellow, 2012–13)

From the pencil to the puppet to the drone—the humanities and the social sciences continue to ride a wave of interest in material culture and the world of things. How should we understand the force and figure of that wave as it shapes different disciplines? Other Things explores this question by considering a wide assortment of objects—from beach glass to cell phones, sneakers to skyscrapers—that have fascinated a range of writers and artists, including Virginia Woolf, Man Ray, Spike Lee, and Don DeLillo.

The Primitive, the Aesthetic, and the Savage
Tony C. Brown (NEH Fellow, 2007-08)

Tony C. Brown examines "the inescapable yet infinitely troubling figure of the not-quite-nothing" in Enlightenment attempts to think about the aesthetic and the savage. The various texts Brown considers—including the writings of Addison, Rousseau, Kant, and Defoe—turn to exotic figures in order to delimit the aesthetic, and to aesthetics in order to comprehend the savage.

The Education of Jane Addams
Victoria Brown (Billington/Occidental Fellow, 2000-01)

The Education of Jane Addams traces, with unprecedented care, Addams's three-decade journey from a privileged prairie girlhood through her years as the competent spinster daughter in a demanding family after her father's death to her early seasoning on the Chicago reform scene.

America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic
Richard Buel, Jr. (Billington/Occidental Fellow, 1999-00)

Many people would be surprised to learn that the struggle between Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party and Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Party defined--and jeopardized--the political life of the early American republic. America on the Brink looks at why the Federalists, who worked so hard to consolidate the federal government before 1800, went to great lengths to subvert it after Jefferson's election.

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
Richard Bushman (Avery Distinguished Fellow, 1996-97)

Founder of the largest indigenous Christian church in American history, Joseph Smith published the 584-page Book of Mormon when he was twenty-three and went on to organize a church, found cities, and attract thousands of followers before his violent death at age thirty-eight. Richard Bushman, an esteemed cultural historian and a practicing Mormon, moves beyond the popular stereotype of Smith as a colorful fraud to explore his personality, his relationships with others, and how he received revelations.

Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550-1700
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (Mellon Fellow, 2003-04)

The book demonstrates that a wider Pan-American perspective can upset the most cherished national narratives of the United States, for it maintains that the Puritan colonization of New England was as much a chivalric, crusading act of Reconquista (against the Devil) as was the Spanish conquest.

The Undivided Past: Humanity beyond Our Differences
David Cannadine (Fletcher Jones Distinguished Fellow, 2010-11)

Investigating the six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation—religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization—David Cannadine questions just how determinative each of them has really been.

Pathfinder: John C. Frémont and the Course of American Empire
Thomas Chaffin (Mellon Fellow, 1998-99)

The career of John Charles Frémont (1813–90) ties together the full breadth of American expansionism from its eighteenth-century origins through its culmination in the Gilded Age. Tom Chaffin's biography demonstrates Frémont's vital importance to the history of American empire, and illuminates his role in shattering long-held myths about the ecology and habitability of the American West.

Book Cover with red and yellow title, and illustrations of coat of arms
Fictions of Consent: Slavery, Servitude, and Free Service in Early Modern England
Urvashi Chakravarty (Thom Fellow, 2014-15)
Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit
Joyce Chaplin (Fletcher Jones Distinguished Fellow, 2006-07)

With illustrations and maps, a witty and erudite account of the history of circumnavigation and how it has influenced the way we think about the Earth and ourselves. In the first complete account, Joyce Chaplin tells of the outrageous ambitions that inspired men and women to take on the whole planet.

Home Divisions: Aristocracy, the State and Provincial Conflict
Thomas Cogswell (NEH Fellow, 1995-96)

Largely based on the chance survival of a rich and previously unexploited archive of Henry Hastings, fifth earl of Huntingdon and Lord Lieutenant of Liecestershire, this book affords an in-depth look at early Stuart government and politics different than any hitherto presented.

Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition
Luis Corteguera (NEH Fellow, 2007-08)

Drawing on inquisitorial papers from the Mexican Inquisition's archive, Luis R. Corteguera weaves a rich narrative that leads readers into a world vastly different from our own, one in which symbols were as powerful as the sword.

Book cover with an image of different boats on the water
Entrepot of Revolutions: Saint-Domingue, Commercial Sovereignty, and the French-American Alliance
Manuel Covo (Thom Fellow, 2018-19)

The Age of Revolutions has been celebrated for the momentous transition from absolute monarchies to representative governments and the creation of nation-states in the Atlantic world. Much less recognized than the spread of democratic ideals was the period's growing traffic of goods, capital, and people across imperial borders and reforming states' attempts to control this mobility.

Poetry, Enclosure, and the Vernacular Landscape 1700-1830
Rachel Crawford (Thom Fellow, 1997-98)

Rachel Crawford examines the intriguing, often problematic relationship between poetry and landscape in eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century Britain. She discusses the highly contested parliamentary enclosure movement which closed off the last of England's open fields between 1760 and 1815.

England on Edge: Crisis and Revolution, 1640-1642
David Cressy (Fletcher Jones Distinguished Fellow, 2003-04)

England on Edge deals with the collapse of the government of Charles I, the disintegration of the Church of England, and the accompanying cultural panic that led to civil war. Focused on the years 1640 to 1642, it examines stresses and fractures in social, political, and religious culture, and the emergence of an unrestrained popular press.

The Generals’ Civil War
Stephen Cushman (Rogers, 2019–20)

In December 1885, under the watchful eye of Mark Twain, the publishing firm of Charles L. Webster and Company released the first volume of the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. With a second volume published in March 1886, Grant's memoirs became a popular sensation. Seeking to capitalize on Grant’s success and interest in earlier reminiscences by Joseph E. Johnston, William T. Sherman, and Richard Taylor, other Civil War generals such as George B. McClellan and Philip H. Sheridan soon followed suit.

Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses
Thadious Davis (Avery Distinguished Fellow, 2000-01)

In Games of Property, distinguished critic Thadious M. Davis provides a dazzling new interpretation of William Faulkner's Go Down, Moses. Davis argues that in its unrelenting attention to issues related to the ownership of land and people, Go Down, Moses ranks among Faulkner's finest and most accomplished works.

Loving Dr. Johnson
Helen Deutsch (NEH Fellow, 1998-99)

Loving Dr. Johnson uses the enormous popularity of Johnson to understand a singular case of author love and to reflect upon what the love of authors has to do with the love of literature. Helen Deutsch's work is driven by several impulses, among them her affection for both Johnson's work and Boswell's biography of him, and her own distance from the largely male tradition of Johnsonian criticism—a tradition to which she remains indebted and to which Loving Dr. Johnson is ultimately an homage.

Book cover.
Digging the Past: How and Why to Imagine Seventeenth-Century Agriculture
Frances E. Dolan (Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow, 2011-12)

Building on and connecting histories of food and work, literary criticism of the pastoral and georgic, histories of elite and vernacular science, and histories of reading and writing practices, among other areas of inquiry, Digging the Past offers fine-grained case studies of projects heralded as innovations both in the seventeenth century and in our own time.

True Relations: Reading, Literature, and Evidence in Seventeenth-Century England
Frances E. Dolan (Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow, 2011-12)

Dolan connects early modern debates about textual evidence to recent discussions of the value of seventeenth-century texts as historical evidence. Then as now, she contends, literary techniques of analysis have proven central to staking and assessing truth claims. She addresses the kinds of texts that circulated about three traumatic events—the Gunpowder Plot, witchcraft prosecutions, and the London Fire—and looks at legal depositions, advice literature, and plays as genres of evidence that hover in a space between fact and fiction.

Women’s Work in Early Modern English Literature and Culture
Michelle Dowd (Thom Fellow, 2006-07)

Dowd investigates literature's engagement with the gendered conflicts of early modern England by examining the narratives that seventeenth-century dramatists created to describe the lives of working women.

Book cover with a long haired woman with wings, in a patterned orange dress.
Talking Back: Native Women and the Making of the Early South
Alejandra Dubcovsky (Fletcher Jones Fellow, 2019-20)

Historian Alejandra Dubcovsky tells a story of war, slavery, loss, remembrance, and the women whose resilience and resistance transformed the colonial South. In exploring their lives she rewrites early American history, challenging the established male-centered narrative.

Divining Science: Treasure Hunting and Earth Science in Early Modern Germany
Warren Dym (Dibner Fellow, 2009-10)

The study of German mining and metallurgy has focused overwhelmingly on labor, capitalism, and progressive engineering and earth science. This book addresses prospecting practices and mining culture. Using the divining, or dowsing rod as a means of exposing miner beliefs, it argues that a robust vernacular science preceded institutionalized geology in Saxony, and that the Freiberg Mining Academy (f.1765) became a site for the synthesis of tradition and new science.

Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854
Jonathan Earle (NEH Fellow, 1999-00)

Taking our understanding of political antislavery into largely unexplored terrain, Jonathan H. Earle counters conventional wisdom and standard historical interpretations that view the ascendance of free-soil ideas within the antislavery movement as an explicit retreat from the goals of emancipation or even as an essentially proslavery ideology.

Cultivating Commerce: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815
Sarah Easterby-Smith (Dibner, 2011-12)

Sarah Easterby-Smith rewrites the histories of botany and horticulture from the perspectives of plant merchants who sold botanical specimens in the decades around 1800.

The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath
John Eglin (NEH Fellow, 2002-03)

Richard Beau Nash was the original "It boy," the self-invented, style-over-substance ruling impresario of Bath who came from humble beginnings. He is a living illustration of what can be achieved with self-confidence and self-possession, as he became the ever-present match maker, gambler, and businessman at the whirl of balls and games at Bath in the 18th century. John Eglin's brilliant and rewarding book is concerned as much with Nash's invention of himself as it is with the invention of Bath.

The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865
Alice Fahs (Thom Fellow, 1997-98)

In this groundbreaking work of cultural history, Alice Fahs explores a little-known and fascinating side of the Civil War--the outpouring of popular literature inspired by the conflict. From 1861 to 1865, authors and publishers in both the North and the South produced a remarkable variety of war-related compositions, including poems, songs, children's stories, romances, novels, histories, and even humorous pieces. Fahs mines these rich but long-neglected resources to recover the diversity of the war's political and social meanings.

A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland
John Faragher (Times Mirror Distinguished Fellow, 1999-00)

The right of neutrality; to live in peace from the imperial wars waged between France and England; had been one of the founding values of Acadia. But the Acadians' refusal to swear unconditional allegiance to the British Crown in the mid-eighteenth century gave New Englanders, who had long coveted Nova Scotia's fertile farmland, pretense enough to launch a campaign of ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. John Mack Faragher draws on original research to weave 150 years of history into a gripping narrative of both the civilization of Acadia and the British plot to destroy it.

The Making of Robert E. Lee
Michael Fellman (NEH Fellow, 1998-99)

With rigorous research and unprecedented insight into Robert E. Lee's personal and public lives, Michael Fellman here uncovers the intelligent, ambitious, and often troubled man behind the legend, exploring his life within the social, cultural, and political context of the nineteenth-century American South.

The Bible and the People
Lori Anne Ferrell (NEH Fellow, 2005-06)

In the eleventh century, the Bible was available only in expensive and rare hand-copied manuscripts. Today, millions of people from all walks of life seek guidance, inspiration, entertainment, and answers from their own editions of the Bible. This illustrated book tells the story of what happened to the ancient set of writings we call the Bible during those thousand years.