Associate Professor of History
Modern United States Political and Social Movements History of Capitalism Legal History
I am a historian of the twentieth century United States. My work focuses on how organized interest groups and everyday Americans influence government policy and the terms of political debate. Right now I'm beginning a project that examines the relationship between gender and whistleblowing in the modern United States. I begin from the premise that there was something constitutive and not coincidental about the simultaneous rise of women in the workforce and the proliferation of whistleblower protection laws beginning in the 1970s. At the same time, strategies used by corporations and government bureaucracies to discredit whistleblowers--regardless of gender--frequently cast them in feminized, hysterical terms. By looking at the intertwined history of whistleblowing and gender, I hope that three dynamics central to the history of knowledge, capitalism, and modern politics become more clear: new knowledge—and new risks— created by the movement of women into jobs traditionally held by men; the promise and perils of claiming authority as women or sexual minorities; and the gendered techniques of corporate crisis management.
My first book, The Cigarette: A Political History is a history of tobacco in the twentieth century that places farmers, government officials, and citizen-activists at the center of the story. Rather than focusing exclusively on "Big Tobacco," I argue that domestic and global cigarette consumption rose through the efforts of organized tobacco farmers and US government officials; and that it fell as a result of local government action spurred by the efforts of citizen-activists and activist lawyers. The Cigarette won the PROSE Award for North American History from the Association of American Publishers. It was a finalist for the LA Times Book prize and one of Smithsonian Magazine's "Best History Titles of 2019."
"Clearing the Air and Counting Costs: Shimp v. New Jersey Bell and the Tragedy of Workplace Smoking" in Shaped by the State: Toward a New Political History of the Twentieth Century Ed. Brent Cebul, Lily Geismer, Mason Williams (University of Chicago Press, 2018).
AWARDS & HONORS
Mead Endowment Faculty Award (2018-2019)
Fellow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (2017)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California-San Francisco (Fall 2013)
Woodrow Wilson Society of Fellows, Princeton University (2011-2012)
FORU 1500: American Dreams
HIST 4890: Distinguished Majors Program Seminar
HIUS 1501: Disasters in America from Cholera to Katrina
HIUS 1501: The United States through Tobacco
HIUS 3151: Moralizing, Modernizing and Mass Politics, US 1900-1945
HIUS 3171: United States Since 1945
HIUS 3559: United States in the 1970s
HIUS 4500/STS3500: Debating Science in Modern America
HIUS 4501: Eugenics
HIUS 9021: United States in Transnational Perspective (Graduate Tutorial)
HIUS 9022: History of US Capitalism (Graduate Tutorial)