Recent Faculty Publications 

Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age, by David Hecht (University of Masachusetts Press, 2015)

Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age, by David Hecht (University of Masachusetts Press, 2015)

No single figure embodies Cold War science more than the renowned physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Although other scientists may have been more influential in establishing the institutions and policies of the nuclear age, none has loomed larger in the popular imagination than the "father of the atomic bomb." Americans have been drawn to the story of the Manhattan Project Oppenheimer helped lead and riveted by the McCarthy-era politics that caught him in its crosshairs. Journalists and politicians, writers and artists have told Oppenheimer's story in many different ways since he first gained notoriety in 1945. In Storytelling and Science, David K. Hecht examines why they did so, and what they hoped to achieve through their stories.
From the outset, accounts of Oppenheimer's life and work were deployed for multiple ends: to trumpet or denigrate the value of science, to settle old scores or advocate new policies, to register dissent or express anxieties. In these different renditions, Oppenheimer was alternately portrayed as hero and villain, establishment figure and principled outsider, "destroyer of worlds" and humanist critic. Yet beneath the varying details of these stories, Hecht discerns important patterns in the way that audiences interpret, and often misinterpret, news about science. In the end, he argues, we find that science itself has surprisingly little to do with how its truths are assimilated by the public. Instead its meaning is shaped by narrative traditions and myths that frame how we think and write about it.

Find out more about the book here.

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Eighty-Eight Years: The Long Death of Slavery in the United States, 1777–1865, by Patrick Rael (University of Georgia Press, 2015)

Eighty-Eight Years: The Long Death of Slavery in the United States, 1777–1865, by Patrick Rael (University of Georgia Press, 2015)

Why did it take so long to end slavery in the United States, and what did it mean that the nation existed eighty-eight years as a “house divided against itself,” as Abraham Lincoln put it? The decline of slavery throughout the Atlantic world was a protracted affair, says Patrick Rael, but no other nation endured anything like the United States. Here the process took from 1777, when Vermont wrote slavery out of its state constitution, to 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery nationwide. Rael immerses readers in the mix of social, geographic, economic, and political factors that shaped this unique American experience. He not only takes a far longer view of slavery’s demise than do those who date it to the rise of abolitionism in 1831, he also places it in a broader Atlantic context. We see how slavery ended variously by consent or force across time and place and how views on slavery evolved differently between the centers of European power and their colonial peripheries—some of which would become power centers themselves.

Find more information about the book here.

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The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment, by Dallas Denery II (Princeton University Press, 2015)

The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment, by Dallas Denery II (Princeton University Press, 2015)

For medieval and early modern Christians, the problem of the lie was the problem of human existence itself. To ask “Is it ever acceptable to lie?” was to ask how we, as sinners, should live in a fallen world. As it turns out, the answer to that question depended on who did the asking. The Devil Wins uncovers the complicated history of lying from the early days of the Catholic Church to the Enlightenment, revealing the diversity of attitudes about lying by considering the question from the perspectives of five representative voices—the Devil, God, theologians, courtiers, and women. Examining works by Augustine, Bonaventure, Martin Luther, Madeleine de Scudéry, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and a host of others, Dallas G. Denery II shows how the lie, long thought to be the source of worldly corruption, eventually became the very basis of social cohesion and peace.

Find more information about the book here.

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Jewish Immigrants in London, 1880-1939, by Susan Tananbaum (pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2014)

Jewish Immigrants in London, 1880-1939, by Susan Tananbaum (pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2014)

Between 1880 and 1939, a quarter of a million European Jews settled in England, with many thousands more passing through on their way to America. Tananbaum explores the differing ways in which the existing Anglo-Jewish communities, local government and education and welfare organizations sought to socialize these new arrivals, focusing on the experiences of working-class women and children. She argues that Jewish women experienced the process of acculturation differently from men, and in some ways were able to assimilate more easily. By looking also across several generations, this book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of multiculturalism in Britain.

Find more information about the book here.

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Global Markets Transformed: 1870-1945, by Allen Wells and Steve Topik (Cambridge, MA :Harvard University Press, 2014)

Global Markets Transformed: 1870-1945, by Allen Wells and Steve Topik (Cambridge, MA :Harvard University Press, 2014)

Offering a fresh look at the trade during the second industrial revolution, Global Markets Transformed descrives a world of commodities on the move--wheat and rice, coffee and tobacco, oil and rubber, all jostling around the planet through a matrix of producers, processors, transportersm and buyers. Steven C. Topik  and Allen dicuss how innovations in industrial and agricultural production, transportation, commerce, and finance transformed the world economy from 1870 to 1945. Topik and Wells trace the evolution of global chains of commodities, from basic food staples and stimulants to strategically important industrial materials, that linked the agricultural and mineral-producing areas of Latin America, Asia, and Africa to European and North American consumvers and industrialists. Yet Laborers and consumers at opposite ends of commodity chaines remained largely invisible to one another. 

Global Markets Transformed highlights the lessons and legacy of the early years of globalization—when the world’s population doubled, trade quadrupled, industrial output multiplied fivefold, and the gap between rich and poor regions grew ever wider.

Find more information about the book here.

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Uncertain knowledge: Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages, edited by Dallas Denery, Kantik Gosh, and Nicolette Zeeman (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers NV, 2014)

Uncertain knowledge: Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages, edited by Dallas Denery, Kantik Gosh, and Nicolette Zeeman (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers NV, 2014)

This book undertakes an interdisciplinary investigation of ideas of uncertainty, relativism, and scepticism in the Middle Ages. What are the forms in which later medieval thinkers articulate epistemological scepticism, relativism, and doubt? Is it possible to voice different forms of uncertainty in different institutional contexts and languages? Bringing together specialists in philosophy, theology, history, and literature, this book undertakes an interdisciplinary investigation of some of the ways in which the problem of knowledge was explored in the Middle Ages. This is a topic of central intellectual importance and has large cultural consequences. The Middle Ages are often still treated by non-medievalists as a time of naive epistemological self-confidence, and we hope that ultimately this revisionist project will have impact beyond medieval studies, illustrating the extent to which this was a period in which many thinkers were intrigued by, and comfortable with, uncertainty.

Find more information about the book here.

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Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn, by Brain Purnell (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2013)

Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn, by Brain Purnell (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2013)

In Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings, historian Brian Purnell explores the chapter’s numerous direct-action protest campaigns for economic justice and social equality. The group’s tactics evolved from pickets and sit-ins for jobs and housing to more dramatic action, such as dumping trash on the steps of Borough Hall to protest inadequate garbage collection. The Brooklyn chapter’s lengthy record of activism, however, yielded only modest progress. Its members eventually resorted to desperate measures, such as targeting the opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair with a traffic-snarling “stall-in.” After that moment, its interracial, nonviolent phase was effectively over. By 1966, the group was more aligned with the black power movement, and a new Brooklyn CORE emerged.

Drawing from archival sources and interviews with individuals directly involved in the chapter, Purnell explores how people from diverse backgrounds joined together, solved internal problems, and earned one another’s trust before eventually becoming disillusioned and frustrated. Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings adds to our understanding of the broader civil rights movement by examining how it was implemented in an iconic northern city, where interracial activists mounted a heroic struggle against powerful local forms of racism.

Winner of the New York State Historical Association 2012 Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize

Find more information about the book here.

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Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History by David Gordon

Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History by David Gordon

This work shows how personal and deeply felt spiritual beliefs can inspire social movements and influence historical change. Conventional historiography concentrates on the secular, materialist, or moral sources of political agency, while instead Gordon argues that when people perceive spirits as exerting power in the visible world, these beliefs form the basis for individual and collective actions. Focusing on the history of Zambia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his analysis invites reflection on political and religious realms of action in other parts of the world.
Ohio University Press, 2012.

Find more information about the book here.

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The Government of Social Life in Colonial India: Liberalism, Religious Law, and Women's Rights by Rachel Sturman

The Government of Social Life in Colonial India: Liberalism, Religious Law, and Women's Rights by Rachel Sturman

This important new study analyses the system of personal law in colonial India through a re-examination of women's rights. Focusing on Hindu law in western India, it challenges existing scholarship, showing how – far from being a system based on traditional values – Hindu law was developed around ideas of liberalism, and that this framework encouraged questions about equality, women's rights, the significance of bodily difference, and more broadly the relationship between state and society.
Cambridge University Press, 2012

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Transnational Africa and Globalization and West African Migrations, Edited by Olufemi Vaughan and Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome

Transnational Africa and Globalization and West African Migrations, Edited by Olufemi Vaughan and Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome

Transnational Africa and Globalization looks at the dawn of neoliberal rationality in Africa in the 1980s and the coinciding massive exodus of skilled Africans to the global North. Moving beyond the 'push and pull' framework that has dominated studies of this phenomenon, the collection instead looks at African transnational migrations against the backdrop of rapid and intensifying globalization. West African Migrations explores how African migration to Western countries after the neo-liberal economic reforms of the 1980s transformed West African states and their new transnational populations in Western countries.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

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Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment in Africa and North America, Edited by David Gordon

Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment in Africa and North America, Edited by David Gordon

Indigenous knowledge has become a catchphrase in global struggles for environmental justice. Yet indigenous knowledges are often viewed, incorrectly, as pure and primordial cultural artifacts. This collection draws from African and North American cases to argue that the forms of knowledge identified as “indigenous” resulted from strategies to control environmental resources during and after colonial encounters. Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment offers comparative and transnational insights that disturb romantic views of unchanging indigenous knowledges in harmony with the environment.
Ohio University Press, 2011

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Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa, by Allen Wells

Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa, by Allen Wells

Seven hundred and fifty Jewish refugees fled Nazi Germany and founded the agricultural settlement of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic, then ruled by one of Latin America's most repressive dictators, General Rafael Trujillo. Wells tells the compelling story of General owned dairy cooperative on the island. 
Duke University Press, 2009 

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Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast, by Connie Chiang,

Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast, by Connie Chiang,

In this book, Chiang examines Monterey's development from a seaside resort to a working-class fishing town and, finally, to a tourist attraction again through the subjects of work, recreation, and environment--the intersections of which are applicable to communities across the United States and abroad.
University of Washington Press, 2008

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Working Souls: Russian Orthodoxy and Factory Labor in St. Petersburg, 1881-1917, by Page Herrlinger

Working Souls: Russian Orthodoxy and Factory Labor in St. Petersburg, 1881-1917, by Page Herrlinger

In this work, Herrlinger addresses questions of religious (and irreligious) identity among workers in Russia’s most revolutionary and modern city, St. Petersburg/Petrograd. While documenting the remarkable vitality and diversity of urban religious life at the end of the Imperial era, it explores the various ways in which the components of workers’ religious identity – their practices, sensibilities, and beliefs about God, self and society – were transformed by the experience of modern factory life.
Slavica Publishers, 2007

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African American Activism Before The Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North, by Patrick Rael

African American Activism Before The Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North, by Patrick Rael

This collection is the first work to gather together scholarly essays published from 1965 to the present on the role of African Americans and race in the struggle for equality in the northern states before the Civil War. Many of these essays are already known as classics in the field, and others are well on their way to becoming definitive in a still evolving field. Here, in one place, anchored by a comprehensive, analytical introduction discussing the historiography of antebellum black activism, the best scholarship on this crucial minority of African American activists can now be studied together.
Routledge, 2008

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Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle, by Matthew Klingle

Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle, by Matthew Klingle

In this book, Klingle explores the role of nature in the development of the city of Seattle from the earliest days of its settlement to the present. Combining environmental history, urban history, and human geography, Klingle shows how attempts to reshape nature in and around Seattle have often ended not only in ecological disaster but also social inequality.
Yale University Press, 2007

Find more information about the book here.

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