Location: Bowdoin / Sarah F. McMahon


Sarah F. McMahon

Associate Professor of History

Contact Information


Hubbard Hall - 11

Teaching this semester

HIST 1014. Utopia: Intentional Communities in America, 1630-1997

An examination of the evolution of utopian visions and utopian experiments that begins in 1630 with John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill,” explores the proliferation of both religious and secular communal ventures between 1780 and 1920, and concludes with an examination of twentieth-century counterculture communes, intentional communities, and dystopian separatists. Readings include primary source accounts by members (letters, diaries, essays, etc.), community histories and apostate exposés, utopian fiction, and scholarly historical analyses. Discussions and essays focus on teaching students how to subject primary and secondary source materials to critical analysis. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

HIST 2123. American Society in the New Nation, 17631840

A social history of the United States from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson. Topics include the various social, economic, political, cultural, and ideological roots of the movement for American independence; the struggle to determine the scope of the Constitution and the political shape of the new republic; the emergence of and contest over a new social and cultural order and the nature of American “identity”; and the diverging social, economic, and political histories of regions (North, South, and trans-Appalachian West) and peoples in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Topics include urbanization, industrialization, and the development of new forms of social organization in the North; religion and the Second Great Awakening; the westward expansion of the nation into areas already occupied; the southern plantation economy and slave communities; and the growth of the reform impulse in Jacksonian America. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

Sarah McMahon


A.B. Wellesley College
Ph.D. Brandeis University

Office Hours

Course Syllabi, Reading Guides, and Resources

  Teaching Oral Communication:
  History 12, Utopia: Intentional Communities
  in America, 1630-1977

  Consultants for Teaching:
  Faculty Members Develop Program of Teaching Support

History 247 Service Learning Project

  Maine Matters:  Exploring Local, Mid-Coast, and Maine History

  The Home Front:
   Bowdoin and Brunswick Before the War

Sarah McMahon offers survey courses on colonial and early national US social history and thematic courses—both surveys and seminars—on family and community, women, utopia, and Maine environmental history.  Her articles on the history of diet and the culture of food in New England and the Midwest have been published in Historical Methods, William and Mary Quarterly, Agricultural History, and in essay collections on early American technology and Midwestern women.  Her current research focuses on change and continuity (ecological, economic, social, and cultural) in Harpswell, a mid-coast Maine farming, fishing, and maritime community, and situates the community in its local, regional, and national context, 1840-1900.

Hubbard Hall

  Hubbard Library—Bowdoin College, Brunswick. Me.  (c. 1907)

Bowdoin 1907

  Bowdoin College  (1907)