- B.A. with Highest Honors in Philosophy,
University of California, Santa Cruz
I work on the cultural history of the United States in the long nineteenth century. I have published books and essays on gambling, the history of the book, personal narratives, financial panics, ruined banks, and collections of human remains. My work on burial and scientific collections of human bodies has led to an interest in American natural history, and I have begun research on a new book on the broad circles of early nineteenth-century collectors who traveled the world and found specimens for cabinets and museums.
I am also working on an essay on the place of everyday life in the photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The paper grew out of the 2010-2011 Center for Cultural Analysis on the “Everyday and the Ordinary” and from discussions with my students in an SAS Honors seminar on “American Culture in the 1930s.”
- The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead (University of Chicago Press, October 2010). New Jersey Council for the Humanities 2010 Honor Book
- The Unvarnished Truth: Personal Narratives in Nineteenth-Century America (University of California Press, 2000; paperback, December 2001).
- Card Sharps, Dream Books & Bucket Shops: Gambling in Nineteenth-Century America (Cornell University Press, 1991; paperback, Routledge, 1999).
- “An Education on a Whale Ship,” Rethinking History (Spring, 2011).
- “Seeing Katrina’s Dead,” in Keith Wailoo, Roland Anglin, Karen O’Neill, and Jeffrey Dowd, eds., Katrina’s Imprint: Race and Vulnerability in America (Rutgers University Press, 2010).
- “A Native among the Headhunters,” in Jay Cook, Lawrence Glickman, and Michael O’Malley, eds., The Cultural Turn in United States History (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
- “Banks in Ruins,” Raritan Quarterly Review (Fall, 2009).
- “One Man’s Skull: A Tale from the Sea Slug Trade,” www.common-place.org (January, 2008).
- “The West” in Karen Halttunen, ed., Blackwell Companion to American Cultural History (Blackwell Publishers, 2008).
- “Amateur Authors,” in Scott Casper, Jeffrey D. Groves, Stephen Nissenbaum, and Michael Winship, eds., The History of the Book in America, vol. 3 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).
- “Amateurism and Self-Publishing,” in Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert D. Sattelmeyer, eds., American History through Literature, 1820-1870 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2005).
- “Curiosity Did/Did Not Kill the Cat,” with Joshua Brown, www.common-place.org (January 2004).
- “Hannah Crafts, Novelist, or How a silent observer became a dabster at invention,” in Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Hollis Robbins, eds., In Search of Hannah Crafts: Critical Essays on The Bondswoman’s Narrative, (Basic Books, December 2003).
- “The Curious Cabinet of Dr. Morton,” in Leah Dilworth, ed., Acts of Possession: Collecting in America, (Rutgers University Press, 2003).
- “Laboring Classes, New Readers, and Print Cultures,” in Scott Casper, Joanne D. Chaison, and Jeffrey D. Groves, eds., Perspectives on American Book History: Artifacts and Commentary (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002).
- “’More from a Wish to Benefit Me than from a Desire to Obtain such a Book’: Begging, Writing and the Art of Artlessness,” in Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, eds., Trading Cultures: The Worlds of Western MerchantsEssays on Authority, Objectivity, and Evidence (Berpols, 2001).
- “Bones of Contention: The Battle over Kennewick Man,” www.common-place.org (January, 2001).
- John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2002-2003.
- William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar Fellowship, The School of American Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Summer 2002.
- Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Studies in History, Princeton University, 1996.
- Stephen A. Botein Fellow, American Antiquarian Society, Summer 1994.
- Sidonie Miskimmon Claus Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities, Yale College, May 1991.
- Morse Junior Faculty Fellowship, Yale University, 1988-1989.
- Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Fellowship, 1980-1981.
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND ADVISORY BOARDS
- American Studies Association
- Organization of American Historians
- American Historical Association
- Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic (Advisory Board)
- Council of the American Antiquarian Society
- Editorial Boards of The Journal of American History, www.common-place.org; Raritan Quarterly, and Rutgers University Press