Ph.D. New York University
B.A. University of Chicago
Trained in American and Atlantic history, I am interested in encounters between North America and the wider world from the age of exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the American Civil War. My definition of "encounter" is quite broad, encompassing interactions between people, animals, plants and even ideas and commodities.
My research explores the ways in which North American participation in international philanthropy—through donations to victims of famine in Ireland in the 1840s—took on a political character. My book project, To Ameliorate Distant Suffering: Charity, Famine and the Politics of Philanthropy traces how apparently quotidian act of transnational philanthropy served as a proxy for political critiques in America. Giving to people at a distance, I argue, helped donors make claims about their superior morality, but also enabled donors to link the experiences of Irish suffering at the hands of the British government to donors' own experiences at the hands of states, nations and empires on the other side of the Atlantic.
I teach courses on North America from colonization to the Civil War, on early American political history, and on the history of American environments and disasters. This year, I am teaching: