Faculty Books

In a brisk revisionist history, William Rowe challenges the standard narrative of Qing China as a decadent, inward-looking state that failed to keep pace with the modern West.

The Great Qing was the second major Chinese empire ruled by foreigners. Three strong Manchu emperors worked diligently to secure an alliance with the conquered Ming gentry, though many of their social edicts—especially the requirement that ethnic Han men wear queues—were fiercely resisted. As advocates of a “universal” empire, Qing rulers also achieved an enormous expansion of the Chinese realm over the course of three centuries, including the conquest and incorporation of Turkic and Tibetan peoples in the west, vast migration into the southwest, and the colonization of Taiwan.

Despite this geographic range and the accompanying social and economic complexity, the Qing ideal of “small government” worked well when outside threats were minimal. But the nineteenth-century Opium Wars forced China to become a player in a predatory international contest involving Western powers, while the devastating uprisings of the Taiping and Boxer rebellions signaled an urgent need for internal reform. Comprehensive state-mandated changes during the early twentieth century were not enough to hold back the nationalist tide of 1911, but they provided a new foundation for the Republican and Communist states that would follow.

This original, thought-provoking history of China’s last empire is a must-read for understanding the challenges facing China today.


London’s Soho district underwent a spectacular transformation between the late Victorian era and the end of the Second World War: its old buildings and dark streets infamous for sex, crime, political disloyalty, and ethnic diversity became a center of culinary and cultural tourism servicing patrons of nearby shops and theaters. Indulgences for the privileged and the upwardly mobile edged a dangerous, transgressive space imagined to be “outside” the nation.

Treating Soho as exceptional, but also representative of London’s urban transformation, Judith Walkowitz shows how the area’s foreignness and porousness were key to the explosion of culture and development of modernity in the first half of the 20th century. She draws on a vast and unusual range of sources to stitch together a rich patchwork quilt of vivid stories and unforgettable characters, revealing how Soho became a showcase for a new cosmopolitan identity.


The Creative Society is the first history to look at modern America through the eyes of its emerging ranks of professional experts, including lawyers, scientists, doctors, administrators, business managers, teachers, policy specialists, and urban planners. Covering the period from the 1890s to the early 21st century, Louis Galambos examines the history that shaped professionals and, in turn, their role in shaping modern America. He considers the roles of education, anti-Semitism, racism, and elitism in shaping and defining the professional cadre and examines how matters of gender, race, and ethnicity determined whether women, African Americans, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East were admitted to the professional ranks. He also discusses the role professionals played in urbanizing the United States, keeping the economy efficient and innovative, showing the government how to provide the people a greater measure of security and equity, and guiding the world’s leading industrial power in coping with its complex, frequently dangerous foreign relations.


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This book offers a new interpretation of political reform in Spain and its American empire in the second half of the 18th century. It examines the intellectual foundation of commercial, administrative, and colonial policy during the tumultuous reigns of Charles III and Charles IV.


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In early 17th-century Spain, the Castilian parliament voted to elevate the newly beatified Teresa of Avila to co-patron saint of Spain alongside the traditional patron, Santiago. Saint and Nation examines Spanish devotion to the cult of saints and the controversy over national patron sainthood to provide an original account of the diverse ways in which the early modern nation was expressed and experienced by monarch and town, center and periphery. By analyzing the dynamic interplay of local and extra-local, royal authority and nation, tradition and modernity, church and state, and masculine and feminine within the co-patronage debate, Erin Rowe reconstructs the sophisticated balance of plural identities that emerged in Castile during a central period of crisis and change in the Spanish world.


Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa reveals the ways in which domestic space and domestic relationships take on different meanings in African contexts that extend the boundaries of family obligation, kinship, and dependency.


John Marshall offers an extensive study of late 17th-century practices of religious intolerance and toleration in England, Ireland, France, Piedmont, and the Netherlands and of the arguments which John Locke and his associates made in defense of “universal religious toleration.” He analyzes early modern and early Enlightenment discussions of toleration; debates over toleration for Jews and Muslims as well as for Christians; the limits of toleration for the intolerant, atheists, “libertines” and “sodomites”; and the complex relationships between intolerance and resistance theories including Locke’s own Treatises.


Efforts to ascertain the influence of enlightenment thought on state action, especially government reform, in the long eighteenth century have long provoked stimulating scholarly quarrels. Generations of historians have grappled with the elusive intersections of enlightenment and absolutism, of political ideas and government policy. In order to complement, expand and rejuvenate the debate which has so far concentrated largely on Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, this volume brings together historians of Southern Europe (broadly defined) and its ultramarine empires. Each chapter has been have been explicitly commissioned to engage with a common set of historiographical issues in order to reappraise specific aspects of ‘enlightened absolutism’ and ‘enlightened reform’ as paradigms for the study of Southern Europe and its Atlantic empires. In so doing, it engages creatively with pressing issues in the current historical literature and suggests new directions for future research. No single historian, working alone, could write a history that did justice to complex issues involved in studying the intersection of enlightenment ideas and policy-making in Latin America, Brazil, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. For this reason, this well-conceived, balanced volume, drawing on the expertise of a small, carefully-chosen cohort offers an exciting investigation of this pressing historical debate.


Between 1917 and 1921, as revolution convulsed Russia, Jewish intellectuals and writers across the crumbling empire threw themselves into the pursuit of a “Jewish renaissance.” At the heart of their program lay a radically new vision of Jewish culture predicated not on religion but on art and secular individuality, national in scope yet cosmopolitan in content, framed by a fierce devotion to Hebrew or Yiddish yet obsessed with importing and participating in the shared culture of Europe and the world. These cultural warriors sought to recast themselves and other Jews not only as a modern nation but as a nation of moderns.

Kenneth Moss offers the first comprehensive look at this fascinating moment in Jewish and Russian history. He examines what these numerous would-be cultural revolutionaries, such as El Lissitzky and Haim Nahman Bialik, meant by a new Jewish culture, and details their fierce disagreements but also their shared assumptions about what culture was and why it was so important. In close readings of Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian texts, he traces how they sought to realize their ideals in practice as writers, artists, and thinkers in the burgeoning cultural centers of Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. And he reveals what happened to them and their ideals as the Bolsheviks consolidated their hold over cultural life.

Here is a brilliant, revisionist argument about the nature of cultural nationalism, the relationship between nationalism and socialism as ideological systems, and culture itself, the axis around which the encounter between Jews and European modernity has pivoted over the past century.


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Ocean of Letters is a remarkable history of imperialism, language, and creolization in the largest African diaspora of the Indian Ocean in the early modern period. Ranging from Madagascar to the Mascarenes, the Comores, and South Africa, Pier M. Larson sheds new light on the roles of slavery, emancipation, oceanic travel, Christian missions, and colonial linguistics in the making of Malagasy-language literacy in the islands of the western Indian Ocean. He shows how enslaved and free Malagasy together with certain European colonists and missionaries promoted the Malagasy language, literacy projects and letter writing in the multilingual colonial societies of the region between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Addressing current debates in the history of Africa and the African diaspora, slavery, abolition, creolization and the making of modern African literatures, the book crosses thematic as well as geo-imperial boundaries and brings fresh perspectives to Indian Ocean history.