My work as a U.S. cultural and intellectual historian has ranged widely across a number of different areas: popular/mass culture; the history of the global culture industries; the interrelation of culture and capitalism; urban history; African American art, ideas, and politics; the history of visuality; and the evolution of cultural history (i.e., as a field of historical analysis). At present, I am finishing two large books that push well beyond the three I have previously authored and/or edited. The first focuses on the rise of a “new materialism” in recent historiography. The second, under contract with W.W. Norton, explores the fight for African American celebrity—roughly from Phillis Wheatley to Paul Robeson. This is a book about the shifting politics of race and visibility, as well as the strategic uses of black renown by a range of seminal figures (writers, actors, musicians, activists). Between 2017 and 2021, I had the honor of serving as the Chair of UM History and helped to lead many of our recent public engagement, career diversity, digital humanities, DEI, and hiring intiatives.
Field(s) of Study
- 19th-century cultural and intellectual
- Popular/mass culture
- Visual culture
The Cultural Turn in U.S. History: Past, Present, & Future, co-edited with Lawrence Glickman and Michael O’Malley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)
The Colossal P. T. Barnum Reader: Nothing Else Like it in the Universe! (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005)
The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).
“Interchange: Globalization and its Limits between the American Revolution and the Civil War.” Invited forum contribution, Journal of American History, 103.2 (Sept 2016), 400-433.
“Finding Otira: On the Geopolitics of Black Celebrity,” Raritan (Fall 2014), 84-111.
“William Henry Lane (‘Master Juba’),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (September 2013 release).
“The Kids Are All Right: On the ‘Turning’ of Cultural History,” American Historical Review, 117.3 (June 2012), 746-771.
“Twelve Propositions for a History of U.S. Cultural History” (with Lawrence Glickman), The Cultural Turn in U.S. History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 3-57.
“The Return of the Culture Industry,” The Cultural Turn in U.S. History, 291-317.
“Seeing the Visual in U.S. History,” Journal of American History, 95.2 (September 2008), 432-441.
“Antebellum Cultural History,” Karen Halttunen, ed., The Blackwell Companion to American Cultural History (New York: Blackwell, 2008), 65-78.
“Master Juba, the King of All Dancers! A Fugitive Story from the Dawn of the Transatlantic Culture Industry,” Discourses in Dance, Volume 3, No. 2 (2006), 6-20.
“Dancing Across the Color Line: A Story of Markets and Mixtures From New York’s Five Points,” Common-place, 4.1 (October 2003).