Nabila Akthar studies early American ideas, politics, and culture. She is particularly interested in the spread of the political, social, and cultural ideals of the Enlightenment throughout the eighteenth-century Anglosphere, especially via such institutions as colonial colleges, scientific academies, libraries, civic associations, and Protestant churches. At present, she is researching the influence of the new scientific and philosophic learning of the Enlightenment in developing British American intellectuals’ ideas about liberty, natural rights, and slavery in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. Nabila also maintains secondary interests in the theory and philosophy of history, and the history of the Western intellectual tradition.
Nabila received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the City College of New York, CUNY, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and studied as a Macaulay Honors Scholar. In her undergraduate work, she researched the lives and careers of several prominent figures of the American Enlightenment, including William Livingston, Samuel Johnson, and Cadwallader Colden. Nabila’s B.A. thesis explored Livingston’s role as a political firebrand and Enlightened cultural reformer during the public controversy sparked over the founding and religious affiliation of King’s College in colonial New York. Her M.A. thesis examined the philosophic underpinnings and cultural implications of Johnson and Colden’s decade-long epistolary debate (1743-1753) on the metaphysical question of “active,” or spontaneously moving, matter.
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