My teaching, thinking, and writing center on U.S. political history and on the history of capitalism. In the latter interest, I teach and write in both US and global/comparative history. I teach several courses in these fields: a two-semester survey of U.S. political history, the History of Capitalism in the United States, a gateway seminar called Capitalism and its Critics, and courses in the global and transnational history of capitalism. My undergraduate courses are all more or less “flipped”: discussion occupies the vast majority of class energy, with brief lectures making an occasional appearance. Course readings are a mix of documents and historians’ interpretations.
I am currently writing a book called Reforging American Democracy: Political Practices in the United States, 1812-1840. This period witnessed the simultaneous appearance of several kinds of democratic movements: Jacksonian and anti-Jacksonian parties, evangelical reform (temperance, abolitionism, etc.), a new African American radicalism in the North, Antimasonry, the Workingmen’s party, and numerous movements for autonomy among Native Americans. Each of these movements sought to educated and mobilize mass constituencies, and all claimed to be trying to enforce the will of “the people” in public affairs. But they all used dramatically different practices in doing so, and each condemned the methods of its competitors. Reforging American Democracy explains why and how these competing democratic practices and ideals emerged at the same time and examines what was at stake in these conflicts. In the process, it seeks to rethink a critical period in American political development by tracing how electoral democracy interacted with alternate political repertoires.
I have also written about conflicts over the distribution of land in the nineteenth century US, an interest I plan to pursue on a global scale in the future.