Faculty Books

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.


Why has shame recently displaced guilt as a dominant emotional reference in the West? After the Holocaust, survivors often reported feeling guilty for living when so many others had died, and in the 1960s psychoanalysts and psychiatrists in the United States helped make survivor guilt a defining feature of the “survivor syndrome.” Yet the idea of survivor guilt has always caused trouble, largely because it appears to imply that, by unconsciously identifying with the perpetrator, victims psychically collude with power.

In From Guilt to Shame, Ruth Leys has written the first genealogical-critical study of the vicissitudes of the concept of survivor guilt and the momentous but largely unrecognized significance of guilt’s replacement by shame. Ultimately, Leys challenges the theoretical and empirical validity of the shame theory proposed by figures such as Silvan Tomkins, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Giorgio Agamben, demonstrating that while the notion of survivor guilt has depended on an intentionalist framework, shame theorists share a problematic commitment to interpreting the emotions, including shame, in antiintentionalist and materialist terms.


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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.


In a book with a bold new view of medieval Jewish history, written in a style accessible to nonspecialists and students as well as to scholars in the field, Marina Rustow changes our understanding of the origins and nature of heresy itself. Scholars have long believed that the Rabbanites and Qaraites, the two major Jewish groups under Islamic rule, split decisively in the 10th century and from that time forward the minority Qaraites were deemed a heretical sect. Qaraites affirmed a right to decide matters of Jewish law free from centuries of rabbinic interpretation; the Rabbanites, in turn, claimed an unbroken chain of scholarly tradition.

Rustow draws heavily on the Cairo Geniza, a repository of papers found in a Rabbanite synagogue, to show that despite the often fierce arguments between the groups, they depended on each other for political and financial support and cooperated in both public and private life. This evidence of remarkable interchange leads Rustow to the conclusion that the accusation of heresy appeared sporadically, in specific contexts, and that the history of permanent schism was the invention of polemicists on both sides. Power shifted back and forth fluidly across what later commentators, particularly those invested in the rabbinic claim to exclusive authority, deemed to have been sharply drawn boundaries.

Heresy and the Politics of Community paints a portrait of a more flexible medieval Eastern Mediterranean world than has previously been imagined and demonstrates a new understanding of the historical meanings of charges of heresy against communities of faith. Historians of premodern societies will find that, in her fresh approach to medieval Jewish and Islamic culture, Rustow illuminates a major issue in the history of religions.


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In this account of the Algerian War’s effect on French political structures and notions of national identity, Todd Shepard asserts that the separation of Algeria from France was truly a revolutionary event with lasting consequences for French social and political life. For more than a century, Algeria had been legally and administratively part of France; after the bloody war that concluded in 1962, it was other—its 8 million Algerian residents deprived of French citizenship while hundreds of thousands of French pieds noirs were forced to return to a country that was never home. This rupture violated the universalism that had been the essence of French republican theory since the late eighteenth century. Shepard contends that because the amputation of Algeria from the French body politic was accomplished illegally and without explanation, its repercussions are responsible for many of the racial and religious tensions that confront France today. In portraying decolonization as an essential step in the inexorable “tide of history,” the French state absolved itself of responsibility for the revolutionary change it was effecting. It thereby turned its back not only on the French of Algeria—Muslims in particular—but also on its own republican principles and the 1958 Constitution. From that point onward, debates over assimilation, identity, and citizenship—once focused on the Algerian “province/colony”—have troubled France itself. In addition to grappling with questions of race, citizenship, national identity, state institutions, and political debate, Shepard also addresses debates in Jewish history, gender history, and queer theory.


The American Promise is more teachable and memorable than any other U.S. survey text. The balanced narrative braids together political and social history so that students can discern overarching trends as well as individual stories. The voices of hundreds of Americans—from Presidents to pipefitters, and sharecroppers to suffragettes—animate the past and make concepts memorable.

The past comes alive for students through dynamic special features and a stunning and distinctive visual program. Over 775 contemporaneous illustrations—more than any competing text—draw students into the text, and more than 180 full-color maps increase students’ geographic literacy. A rich array of special features complements the narrative, offering more points of departure for assignments and discussion. Longstanding favorites include Documenting the American Promise, Historical Questions, The Promise of Technology, and Beyond America’s Borders, representing a key part of our effort to increase attention paid to the global context of American history.


In this revelatory and genuinely groundbreaking study, François Furstenberg sheds new light on the genesis of American identity. Immersing us in the publishing culture of the early 19th century, he shows us how the words of George Washington and others of his generation became America’s sacred scripture and provided the foundation for a new civic culture—one whose reconciliation with slavery unleashed consequences that haunt us still. A dazzling work of scholarship from a brilliant young historian, In the Name of the Father is a major contribution to American social history.


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Making babies was a mysterious process in 17th-century England. Fissell uses popular sources—songs, jokes, witchcraft pamphlets, prayerbooks, popular medical manuals—to recover how ordinary men and women understood the processes of reproduction. Because the human body was so often used as a metaphor for social relations, the grand events of high politics such as the English Civil War reshaped popular ideas about conception and pregnancy. This book is the first account of ordinary people’s ideas about reproduction, and offers a new way to understand how common folk experienced the sweeping political changes that characterized early modern England.