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I am a historian of the global United States from the mid nineteenth century onwards. My teaching and research explore how peopled have exchanged ideas about capitalism and the environment while constructing built and unbuilt spaces, markets, and globe-spanning systems of production and consumption.
Currently, I am working on two projects. The first investigates the rise of American mass retail corporations, stretching from nineteenth-century suppliers like Sears and Montgomery Ward to superstores like Wal-Mart and Target. I am interested in how this story illuminates the entwining of capitalist enterprise and the state in modern American history. Meanwhile, the global production chains that superstores have constructed over time raise questions about the consequences of distancing consumers from ecological and human labor, and surface critical social and environmental choices embedded in consumer systems that undergird American economic life.
My second project examines the life of Gilded Age reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd. Blurring boundaries between critic-at-large and labor leader, Lloyd voiced sharp critiques of American capitalism (the most famous is Wealth Against Commonwealth). He also spent decades exploring industrial democracy and labor arbitration around the world, leading him into a central role in the great anthracite coal strike of 1902. He moved easily among writers, politicians, and labor leaders alike, and I am curious how his endeavors expound class boundary-traversing aspirations in the early days of the Progressive movement.
Additionally, I am involved in the Princeton and Slavery Project, a publically-oriented effort to understanding and contextualize the university’s connections to slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I am also a 2016/2017 co-organizer of Princeton’s Modern America Workshop.
Previously, I received an A.B. summa cum laude in history from Cornell, where I wrote a thesis on the Erie Canal’s entwined histories as a catalyst of economic development and as a prompt for dissenting environmental commentary that questioned the canal’s invasion of what some observers considered ‘wilderness.’ Before coming to the Princeton history department in 2015, I worked as a researcher at Public Agenda, a civic engagement think tank in Manhattan.
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