Recent faculty books

Author: Arts and Letters

American Jesuits 150

American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global

John T. McGreevy
I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters

At the start of the 19th century, the Jesuits seemed fated for oblivion. Dissolved as a religious order in 1773 by one pope, they were restored in 1814 by another, but with only 600 aged members. Yet a century later, the Jesuits numbered 17,000 men and were at the vanguard of the Catholic Church’s expansion around the world. In the United States especially, foreign-born Jesuits built universities and schools, aided Catholic immigrants, and served as missionaries. This book traces this 19th-century resurgence, showing how Jesuits nurtured a Catholic modernity through a disciplined counterculture of parishes, schools, and associations. Drawing on archival materials from three continents, American Jesuits and the World tracks Jesuits who left Europe for America and Jesuits who left the U.S. for missionary ventures across the Pacific. Each chapter tells the story of a revealing or controversial event. These stories place the Jesuits at the center of the worldwide clash between Catholics and liberal nationalists, and reveal how the Jesuits not only revived their own order but made modern Catholicism more global.

Princeton University Press, 2016


Protestantism After 500 Years Noll

Protestantism After 500 Years

Edited by
Mark Noll
Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History

with Thomas Albert Howard 

The world stands before a landmark date: October 31, 2017, the quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation. Countries, social movements, churches, universities, seminaries, and other institutions shaped by Protestantism face a daunting question: how should the Reformation be commemorated 500 years after the fact? In this volume, leading historians and theologians, Protestant and Catholic, come together to grapple with this question and examine the historical significance of the Reformation. Protestantism has been credited for restoring essential Christian truth, blamed for disastrous church divisions, and invoked as the cause of modern liberalism, capitalism, democracy, individualism, modern science, secularism, and so much else. This book examines the historical significance of the Reformation and considers how we might expand and enrich the ongoing conversation about Protestantism’s impact. The contributors conclude that we must remember the Reformation not only because of the enduring, sometimes painful religious divisions that emerged from this era, but also because a historical understanding of the Reformation is necessary for promoting ecumenical understanding and thinking wisely about the future of Christianity.

Oxford University Press, 2016


Early Modern Medicine 150

Early Modern Medicine and Natural Philosophy

Edited by
Evan Ragland
Assistant Professor

with Peter Distelzweig and Benjamin Goldberg

This volume presents an innovative look at early modern medicine and natural philosophy as historically interrelated developments. Individual chapters chart this interrelation in a variety of contexts, from the Humanists who drew on Hippocrates, Galen, and Aristotle to answer philosophical and medical questions, to medical debates on the limits and power of mechanism, and on to 18th-century controversies over medical materialism and ‘atheism.’ This work broadens our understanding of philosophy and medicine in this period by illustrating the ways these disciplines were in deep theoretical and methodological dialogue and by demonstrating its importance. Together, these papers argue that to overlook the medical context of natural philosophy and the philosophical context of medicine is to overlook fundamentally important aspects of these intellectual endeavors.

Springer, 2016


A Foot In The River Fernandez Armesto

A Foot in the River: Why Our Lives Change—and the Limits of Evolution

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
William P. Reynolds Professor of History

We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live—our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values—seems to be changing at an ever-accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this? Fernandez-Armesto sifts through the evidence and offers some radical answers to big questions about the human species and its history—and speculates on what these answers might mean for our future. Combining insights from a huge range of disciplines, he argues that culture is exempt from evolution. Ultimately, no environmental conditions, no genetic legacy, no predictable patterns, no scientific laws determine our behavior. We can consequently make and remake our world in the freedom of unconstrained imaginations.

Oxford University Press, 2015


Medieval Central Asia 150

Medieval Central Asia and the Persianate World: Iranian Tradition and Islamic Civilisation

Deborah Tor
Associate Professor

with A.C.S. Peacock

From the political dissolution of the Abbasid Caliphate in the mid-ninth century to the beginning of the 13th century, the Persianate dynasties of Islamic Central Asia constituted the political and military stronghold of Sunni Islam. It was in this region, historically known as Khurasan and Transoxiana, that many of the important religious and cultural developments of Islamic civilisation took place. This volume explores the origins and nature of this cultural and political florescence and sheds light on one of the most formative yet unexplored eras of Islamic history.

I.B. Tauris, 2015


Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico by Edward Beatty

Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico

Edward (Ted) Beatty

In the late 1800s, Mexican citizens quickly adopted new technologies imported from abroad to provide many goods and services. Rapid technological change supported economic growth and also brought cultural change and social dislocation. Drawing on three detailed case studies—the sewing machine, a glass-bottle factory, and the cyanide process for gold and silver refining—Beatty explores a central paradox of economic growth in 19th-century Mexico: While Mexicans made significant efforts to integrate new machines and products, difficulties in assimilating the skills required to use emerging technologies resulted in a persistent dependence on international expertise.

University of California Press, 2015


El Mito de una Riqueza Proverbial by Edward Beatty

El Mito de una Riqueza Proverbial

(published in Spanish)

Edward (Ted) Beatty

Between the 1770s and 1910, writers and politicians in Mexico discussed and debated sources of national wealth and ways to promote more. Much of this debate revolved around assumptions concerning the country’s “prodigal wealth.” It filtered through the enlightenment ideas circulating in Mexico and shaped policy debates. This volume examines economic thought in Mexico’s long 19th century. Three of the four sections explore sub-periods, from late colonial “proyectismo” to the diverse strands of post-independence liberalism and the late-century reflections of Guillermo Prieto and Justo Sierra. The fourth works to bridge the long century, tracing lines of continuity in both thought and policy from the Bourbon reforms to the Revolution.

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2015


Forging a Multinational State by John Deak

Forging a Multinational State: State Making in Imperial Austria from the Enlightenment to the First World War

John Deak
Assistant Professor

The Habsburg Monarchy ruled over approximately one-third of Europe for almost 150 years. While previous books on the Habsburg Empire emphasize its slow decline in the face of the growth of neighboring nation-states, Deak argues that the state actively sought not only to adapt but also to modernize and build. He demonstrates how an early modern empire made up of disparate lands connected solely by the feudal ties of a ruling family was transformed into a relatively unitary, modern, semi-centralized bureaucratic continental empire. This process was only derailed by the state of emergency that accompanied World War I. Consequently, Deak provides the reader with a new appreciation for the evolving architecture of one of Europe’s great powers in the 19th century.

Stanford University Press, 2015


Historia Rossica by Alexander Martin

Historical Scene in Moscow in 1812 During the Presence of the Enemy in This City

(published in Russian)

Edited by
Alexander Martin

Johannes Ambrosius Rosenstrauch (1768-1835), a German immigrant to Russia and owner of a fashion store, was an eyewitness to the occupation of Moscow by Napoleon. His memoir of these events is published for the first time both in the original German and in Russian translation. It tells a dramatic story of the horrors of war, the cruelty of the Napoleonic army, the class conflicts among Russians, and the burning of Moscow. The memoir is preceded by biography that describes the author’s life as an actor, merchant, freemason, and Lutheran pastor, and how he became acquainted with leading figures of the Russian imperial court. Rosenstrauch is interesting both as a memoirist and as a colorful figure whose life reflects many aspects of social and cultural history.

Natasha Kozmenko Booksellers, 2015


In the Beginning Was the Word, by Mark Noll

In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783

Mark Noll
The Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History

In the beginning of American history, the Word was in Spanish, Latin, and native languages like Nahuatal. But while Spanish and Catholic Christianity reached the New World in 1492, it was only with settlements in the 17th century that English-language Bibles and Protestant Christendom arrived. The Puritans brought with them intense devotion to Scripture, as well as their ideal of Christendom—a civilization characterized by a thorough intermingling of the Bible with everything else. That ideal began this country’s journey from the Puritan’s City on a Hill to the Bible-quoting country the U.S. is today. In the Beginning Was the Word shows how important the Bible remained, even as that Puritan ideal changed considerably through the early stages of American history.

Oxford University Press, 2015


Frontier Seaport: Detroit's Transformation into an Atlantic Entrepôt


Catherine Cangany
Assistant Professor

Today’s troubles notwithstanding, Detroit has experienced multiple periods of prosperity. In the late 18th century, the city was the center of the thriving fur trade. Its proximity to the West as well as its access to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River positioned this new metropolis at the intersection of the fur-rich frontier and the Atlantic trade routes.

In Frontier Seaport, Cangany argues that as a result of the prosperous fur trade, Detroit functioned much like a coastal town, serving as a critical link in a commercial chain that stretched all the way to Russia and China—thus opening Detroit’s shores for eastern merchants. This influx of newcomers brought its own transatlantic networks and fed residents’ desires for popular culture and manufactured merchandise. Detroit began to be both a frontier town and seaport city—a mixed identity, Cangany argues, that hindered it from becoming a thoroughly “American” metropolis.

The University of Chicago Press, 2014

Related story: Historian Catherine Cangany Explores Detroit, the Frontier Seaport

Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire by Liang Cai


Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire

Liang Cai
Assistant Professor

When did Confucianism become the reigning political ideology of imperial China? A pervasive narrative holds it was during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty (141–87 BCE). In this book, Cai maintains that such a date would have been too early and provides a new account of the transformation. A hidden narrative in Sima Qian’s The Grand Scribe’s Records (Shi ji) shows that Confucians were a powerless minority in the political realm of this period. Cai argues that the notorious witchcraft scandal of 91–87 BCE reshuffled the power structure of the Western Han bureaucracy and provided Confucians an opportune moment to seize power, evolve into a new elite class, and set the tenor of political discourse for centuries to come.

SUNY Press, 2014


Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States


Felipe Fernández-Armesto
William P. Reynolds Professor of History

The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater.

Fernández-Armesto begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late 18th century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. After Anglo-America expands west during the 19th century, a Hispanic resurgence follows. The peoples of Latin America overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future, and Our America illuminates its Hispanic past.

W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2014

The New York Times Book Review

The Wall Street Journal book review


More Than Hot: A Short History of Fever, by Christopher Hamlin

More Than Hot: A Short History of Fever

Christopher Hamlin

Reviewing representations of the condition from ancient times to the present, More Than Hot is a history of the world through the lens of fever. The book deals with the expression of fever, the efforts of medical scientists to classify it, and fever’s changing social, cultural, and political significance. Long before there were thermometers to measure it, people recognized fever as a dangerous, if transitory, state of being. It was the most familiar form of alienation from the normal self, a concern to communities and states as well as to patients, families, and healers. Hamlin shares stories from individuals—some eminent, many forgotten—who exemplify aspects of fever and reflects on how the meanings of diseases continue to shift, affecting not only the identities we create but often also our ability to survive.

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014


The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish


Linda Przybyszewski
Associate Professor

As a glance down any street in America reveals, American women have forgotten how to dress—chasing fads, choosing inappropriate materials and unattractive cuts, and wasting energy tottering in heels. Quite simply, women lack the fashion know-how needed to dress professionally and flatteringly.

As Przybyszewski reveals, it wasn’t always like this. In the first half of the 20th century, a remarkable group of women—the so-called Dress Doctors—taught American women how to dress well on a budget. Knowledge not money, they insisted, is the key to timeless fashion. The Dress Doctors offered advice on radio shows, at women’s clubs, and in magazines; millions of girls read their books in school and at 4-H clothing clubs. Their concerns weren’t purely superficial: they prized practicality and empowered women to design and make clothing. They championed skirts that would allow women to move freely and campaigned against impractical, painful shoes. The Lost Art of Dress introduces a new audience to the Dress Doctors’ timeless rules of fashion and beauty.

Basic Books, 2014

Related story: Historian Says Knowledge, Not Money, is the Key to Timeless Fashion


Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities


James Turner
Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities Emeritus

Many today do not recognize the word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing all studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. How did it become little more than an archaic word? Philology tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university.

Turner traces the development of humanistic learning from its beginning among ancient Greek scholars and rhetoricians to the English-speaking world of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Around 1800, he explains, the interlinked philological and antiquarian studies began to fragment into distinct academic fields. These fissures resulted in the new, independent “disciplines” that we now call the humanities. Yet the separation of these disciplines only obscured, rather than erased, their common features. The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. Understanding their common origins—and what they still share—has never been more urgent.

Princeton University Press, 2014


Contested Frontiers in the Syria-Lebanon-Israel Region: Cartography, Sovereignty, and Conflict


Asher Kaufman
Associate Professor

Contested Frontiers in the Syria-Lebanon-Israel Region studies one of the flash points of the Middle East since the 1960s—a tiny region of roughly 100 square kilometers where Syria, Lebanon, and Israel come together but where the borders have never been clearly marked. This was the scene of Palestinian guerrilla warfare in the 1960s and ’70s and of Hezbollah confrontations with Israel from 2000 to the 2006 war. At stake are rural villagers who live in one country but identify themselves as belonging to another, the source of the Jordan River, part of scenic and historically significant Mount Hermon, the conflict-prone Shebaa Farms, and a defunct oil pipeline.

Asher Kaufman uses French, British, American, and Israeli archives; Lebanese and Syrian primary sources and newspapers; interviews with borderland residents and with UN and U.S. officials; and a historic collection of maps. He analyzes the geopolitical causes of conflict and prospects for resolution, assesses implications of the impasse over economic zones, and reflects on the meaning of borders and frontiers today.

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013

Related story: Asher Kaufman Uses Archival Maps to Offer Fresh Look at Middle Eastern Conflict