Professional appointments

Professor, Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2022-Present. Affiliated faculty with the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and the Media, Art, and Text (MATX) Program.

Associate Professor, Department of History, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2011-Present.

Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Texas, Austin, 2001-2011. Courtesy appointments with the Center for European Studies and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.


Johns Hopkins University. Ph.D., History, 2001.

University of New Hampshire. M.A., History, 1996.

University of California, Santa Cruz. B.A. with Honors in History and Cowell College Honors, 1988.

Books (refereed)

The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States’ First Forgotten Celebrity. Book in production with the Omohundro Institute/ University of North Carolina Press, 2021.

  • Winner of the James Bradford Best Biography Prize awarded by the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR), July 2022.

A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

  • Winner of the James Broussard Best First Book Prize awarded by the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR), July 2010.
  • Finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Best Book Prize, Spring 2010.

Scholarly articles and chapters

The Problem of Water in New York’s History,” a post for the Gotham Center for New York City History’s blog, 26 Oct. 2021.

Prologue: The Fever that Struck New York,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 2021.

“Gender in the Early Republic: The Scholarship of Jan Ellen Lewis,” in The Collected Scholarly Essays of Jan Ellen Lewis, eds. Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf. Chapel Hill: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/ UNC Press, October 2021.

“‘The powers of debate should be sedulously cultivated’: The Importance of Eloquence in Early American Education and the University of Virginia,” in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University, eds. John Ragosta, Peter Onuf, and Andrew O’Shaughnessy, pp. 287-305. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019.

“Reading Aloud: Editorial Societies and Orality in Early American Magazines,” in Early American Literature 54, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 163-88.

“Conclusion: Placing Platform Culture in Nineteenth-Century American Life,” afterword for the volume Thinking Together: Cultures of Lecturing, Learning, and Difference in the Long Nineteenth Century, eds. Angela Ray and Paul Stob. State College: Penn State University Press, 2018.

“Oratory and Platform Culture in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century America and Britain,” a 9,200-word commissioned article for Oxford Handbooks Online, a division of Oxford University Press, ed. Colin Burrow. Published July 2016.

“The Transatlantic Celebrity of Mr. O: Oratory and the Structures of Reputation in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain and America,” in the special issue, “Transatlantic Celebrity” edited by Páraic Finnerty and Rod Rosenquist for Comparative American Studies 14, 1 (March 2016): 7-20.

“Forgetting History: Antebellum American Peace Reformers and the Specter of the Revolution,” in the collection Remembering the Revolution: Memory, History, and Nation-Making in the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War, eds. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Frances Clarke, Clare Corbould, and Michael A. McDonnell, pp. 217-33. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013.

“‘A Vapour which Appears but for a Moment’: Elocution for Girls during the Early American Republic,” in Rhetoric, History, and Women’s Oratorical Education: American Women Learn to Speak, eds. David Gold and Catherine Hobbs, pp. 38-59. New York: Routledge, 2013.

“Beware the Abandoned Woman: European Travelers, ‘Exceptional’ Native Women, and Interracial Families in Early Modern Atlantic Travelogues,” in Atlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century: Seduction and Sentiment, eds. Toni Bowers and Tita Chico, pp. 135-47. New York: Palgrave, 2012.

“Blood and Lust: Masculinity and Sexuality in Illustrated Print Portrayals of Early Pirates of the Caribbean” in New Men: Manliness in Early America, edited by Thomas A. Foster, pp. 95-115. New York: New York University Press, 2011. This is a substantially revised version of my “Shivering Timbers” essay (see below).

  • Reprinted in The Golden Age of Piracy: The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Popularity of Pirates, ed. David Head. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018.

“Shivering Timbers: Sexing Up the Pirates in Early Modern Print Culture,” Common-Place, October 2009.

“Fight Like a Man: Gender and Rhetoric in the Early Nineteenth-Century American Peace Movement,” American Nineteenth Century History 10 (September 2009): 247-71.

“The Indian Censures the White Man: ‘Indian Eloquence’ and American Reading Audiences in the Early Republic,” William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser., 65 (July 2008): 535-64.

“The Female Cicero: Young Women’s Oratory and Gendered Public Participation in the Early American Republic,” Gender and History 19(August 2007): 260-83.

Select recent reviews and review essays

Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon by William Davis, in Mormon Studies Review, forthcoming in vol. 9 (2022).

The Poison Plot: A Tale of Adultery and Murder in Colonial Newport by Elaine Forman Crane, in Early American Literature, 55, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 510-15.

Tea Sets and Tyranny: The Politics of Politeness in Early America by Steven Bullock, in Journal of American Studies 52, no. 4 (October 2018): 1137-38.

An Empire of Print: The New York Publishing Trade in the Early American Republic by Steven Carl Smith, in William and Mary Quarterly 75, 2 (April 2018): 22-25.

The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America edited by Tom F. Wright, in Journal of American Studies 49, 2 (May 2015): 422-23.

The Story of America: Essays on Origins by Jill Lepore, in Early American Literature 49, no. 3 (Fall/Winter 2014): 796-802.

Citizenship and the Origins of Women’s History in the United States by Teresa Anne Murphy, in Journal of American History 101, 1 (June 2014): 253-54.

“The Revolution Takes a Turn: AMC’s Drama about Washington’s Spies aims for Moral Complexity,” review of the TV show Turn, in AHA Perspectives on History, April 2014.

The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America by Kate Haulman, in American Historical Review 118 (June 2013): 841-42.

Other recent publications

“The Best Books on the Surprising World of the Early American Republic,” Shepherd.com (July 2021).

“Demystifying Research,” the Library of Virginia’s Broadside, no. 1 (March 2020): 8-9.

“William Ladd,” article for Opposition to War: An Encyclopedia of United States Peace and Antiwar Movements, ed. Mitchell K. Hall. ABC-CLIO, published January 2018.

“James Ogilvie,” 3,000-word article for Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, published August 2017.

“Negotiating the Personal and the Academic,” essay for the roundtable on Marion Rust’s article, “Personal History: Martha Ballard, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and the Scholarly Guise in Early American Studies,” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 32, 2 (2015): 177-80.

“Jack Larkin’s Voice,” a tribute to the late historian, in forum, Publick Occurrences 2.0 (a subset of Common-Place), April 2013.

Editorial experience

Member, Editorial Board, American Nineteenth Century History, 2019-present (five-year term).

Member, OI Books Editorial Advisory Board, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture book series, January 2019-present.

Editor, “Surveying the Fields,” Journal of the Early Republic, 2014-2019. As part of this editorship I commissioned articles, supervised peer reviews, edited, and oversaw publication of four essays on the state of the field, working alongside JER editor Catherine Kelly.

Recent grants and fellowships (external)

Public Scholars grant (non-residential), National Endowment for the Humanities, July 2022-June 2023.

David B. Kennedy and Earhart short-term research fellowship, Clements Library, University of Michigan, Spring 2022.

Franklin research grant, American Philosophical Society, Fall 2021.

NEH Long-term research residential fellowship, New-York Historical Society, 2021-2022.

Clark and Kay Musser short-term research fellowship, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon, VA, Fall 2021.

Summer residency, Harris Manchester College (awarded through VCU), Oxford University, June-July 2016.

Short-term research fellowship, International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA, May 2016.

Residential fellowship, Humanities Research Center, VCU, Spring 2016 (release from teaching).

Residential fellowship, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Charlottesville, Fall 2015.    

SHEAR short-term research fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, August 2015.

Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, Summer 2015.  

NEH Long-Term Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, 2011-2012.

Library Research Grant, Friends of the Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ, June 2011.

Helen L. Bing Fellowship, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, June-July 2010.

W. Jackson Bate/ Douglas W. Bryant, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) Fellowship, Houghton Library, Harvard University, July 2009.

NEH Long-Term Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, Spring 2009.

Jay and Deborah Last Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, January 2009.

Ruth and Lincoln Ekstrom Research Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Fall 2008.

Prizes, honors, and nominations

Nominated by the Department of History for the College of Humanities & Sciences’ Elske v.P. Smith Distinguished Lecturer Award, Fall 2021.

Nominated by the Department of History for the College of Humanities & Sciences’ Excellence in Scholarship award, Spring 2019.

Distinguished Lecturer, appointed by the Organization of American Historians (OAH), 2014-2017; reappointed for 2017-2020 and 2020-2023.

Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, elected May 2012.

James Broussard Best First Book Prize, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, July 2010.

Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, Finalist for the Best Book Prize, Spring 2010.

Finalist, Lerner-Scott Dissertation Prize for the Best Dissertation in American Women’s and Gender History, Organization of American Historians, January 2002.

Examples of professional service (external to the university)

Member, Advisory Board, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, VA, 2020-present.

Member, Selection Committee for the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Program, Dec. 2020-Feb. 2023 (three-year term).

Chair, Merle Curti Book Prize Committee (for the best book in American intellectual history), Organization of American Historians, 2019-2020.

Co-leader with Rachel Hope Cleves, Graduate Research Workshop on Gender & Sexuality, annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Cambridge, MA, July 2019.

Co-chair, Program Committee, annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, New Haven, CT, July 2016.