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- 19th-Century United States
- History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
- Legal History
- Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction
- PhD—History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Minnesota
- MA—History, University of New Mexico
My research and teaching interests focus on the United States during the long nineteenth century.
I study the making and unmaking of personhood at the nexus of medicine and law. My current research focuses on how the “habitual drunkard” came to be seen as a problematic person requiring medical attention and legal restraint. I am most interested in legal proceedings in which courts assigned guardians to habitual drunkards and the practices of life insurers who sought to exclude compulsive drinkers through medical screening. This research explains how the framing of habitual drunkenness as a medico-legal problem shaped the tension between treatment and punishment that still characterizes present-day approaches to addiction.
My teaching is centered on making historical knowledge accessible and relevant to students, scholars, and the public. I harness the power of writing, self reflection, and collaborative learning to move beyond the memorization of names, events, and dates. Instead, I show that history is an active study and interpretation of historical documents and scholarship. I want students to leave my classroom with a greater appreciation for the complexity of historical analysis, sensitivity to silences and omissions in historical knowledge, and ability to critically evaluate the reliability and significance of information.
- HIST 150 United States to 1876
- HIST 151 United States Since 1876
- HIST 341 Empire, Race, Revolution: America, 1700-1815
- HIST 344 Capitalism, Slavery, and Conquest: The United States, 1800-1860
- HIST 345 Civil War and Reconstruction
“Corrupting the body and mind: distilled spirits, drunkenness, and disease in early-modern England and the British Atlantic world,” in Alcohol, psychiatry and society: Comparative and transnational perspectives, c. 1700-1990s, Waltraud Ernst and Thomas Müller, eds. (Manchester University Press, 2022) 36-65.