American History Core Graduate Faculty

The core faculty consists of twelve American historians, who also serve as the executive committee of the program. Major research papers and dissertations are done under their direction.

Joyce Antler teaches women's history, cultural history, the history of education, and American Jewish history.  Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she received her B.A. from Brandeis University and her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  A founder and former director of the Brandeis Women's Studies Program and Co-Director of Brandeis' Spencer Program in Educational Research, she has taught at Brandeis since 1979; she is also a founder of the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies at M.I.T.  Her books include Year One of the Empire: A Play of American Politics, Protest, and War, with Elinor Fuchs (1973); Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of A Modern Woman (1987); The Educated Woman and Professionalization (1987); The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America (1997), and You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother (2007).  She is the editor of America and I: Short Stories by American Jewish Women Writers (1990); Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture (1998); and co-editor of Change in Education: Women as Radicals and Conservators (1990) and The Challenge of Feminist Biography: Writing the Lives of Modern American Women (1992).  She is a recipient of Brandeis' Abram L. Sachar Medallion for Outstanding Achievement in Education and the Harry S. Levitan Prize in Education.

Silvia Marina Arrom teaches Latin American and Latino history. She was born in New Haven, went to Bryn Mawr College (B.A., 1971) and Stanford (Ph.D., 1978), and taught at Yale and Indiana University before coming to Brandeis. Her books include The Women of Mexico City, 1790-1857 (1985), Riots in the Cities: Popular Politics and the Urban Poor in Latin America, 1765-1910 (with Servando Ortoll, 1996), and Containing the Poor: The Mexico City Poor House, 1774-1871 (Duke, 2000). Her research abroad has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.

Brian Donahue is Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies on the Jack Meyerhoff Fund, and among the core faculty in the Brandeis Environmental Studies Program. He teaches courses on environmental issues, environmental history, and sustainable farming and forestry. He holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the Brandeis program in the History of American Civilization. He co-founded and for 12 years directed Land's Sake, a non-profit community farm in Weston, Massachusetts and was Director of Education at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. He is the author of Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town (1999), which won the 2000 Book Prize from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord (2004) won the 2004 Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History, the 2005 Saloutos Prize from the Agricultural History Society, and the 2004 Book Prize from the New England Historical Association. His primary interest is the history and prospect of human engagement with the land.

David Engerman teaches intellectual history and international relations in modern America. He grew up in Rochester, New York, and attended Swarthmore College (B.A., 1988). After earning his M.A. in History from Rutgers-New Brunswick (1993), he completed his graduate studies at the University of California-Berkeley (Ph.D., 1998). His first book is Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development (Harvard University Press, 2003), won two book prizes in international history. He is also a coeditor of Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003); his articles have appeared in the American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, International History Review, Modern Intellectual History and the Journal of Cold War Studies. He has received grants and fellowships from the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Radcliffe Institute.

David Hackett Fischer teaches early American history, the American Revolution, Slavery and the Civil War, World War II, Environmental history, and the history of leadership. Born in Baltimore, he went to Princeton (A.B., 1958) and Johns Hopkins (Ph.D., 1962), and has taught at Brandeis since 1962, with visiting appointments at the University of Washington and Harvard. He was Harmsworth Professor at Oxford (1985-86), Fulbright Lecturer in New Zealand (1994), De Clare Lecturer at Otago University (1995), and Distinguished Scholar at Waikato University in New Zealand (1995). His books include Albion's Seed (1989), Paul Revere's Ride (1994), Away, I'm Bound Away (1995), The Great Wave (1996), Washington's Crossing (2004) and Libertry and Freedom (2005). They have won prizes for social history, political history, immigration history, military history, local history, the Irving Medal, the Ingersoll Prize for literary distinction and the Pulitzer Prize. He has also received many teaching awards, including the Carnegie Prize, the Brandeis Prize, and Massachusetts Teacher of the Year (1991).

Karen V. Hansen is Professor of Sociology & Women's and Gender Studies.  Long interested in nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. social history, she received her Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1989.  She has continued to combine sociology and history in her teaching in historical methods, North American families, women's biography and society, and feminist theory.  Her focus on the blurry boundaries between public and private, households and communities resulted in her first book, A Very Social Time: Crafting Community in Antebellum New EnglandLife and Land in the Contact Zone: Scandinavian Settlers and Dakota Indians at Spirit Lake, 1900-1930, supported by a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, uses oral histories, letters, and historical plat maps to explore coexistence on an Indian Reservation.  Her recent book, Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care, received a William J. Goode Book Award honorable mention and was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award.

Mark Hulliung earned his doctorate at Harvard University. His teaching and research interests are in American and European history, intellectual, cultural, political. His books include Montesquieu and the Old Regime, Citizen Machiavelli, The Autocritique of Enlightenment: Rousseau and the Philosophes, Contemporary Political Ideologies (co-authored), Citizens and Citoyens: Republicans and Liberals in America and France, and The Social Contract in America: From the Revolution to the Present Age.

Peniel E. Joseph's field is African American social, political, cultural, and intellectual history, with special interests in the Civil Rights and Black Power Eras and Postwar American History. Born in New York City, Joseph received a B.A. in Africana Studies and History from Stony Brook University and a Ph.D. in American History from Temple University.  He taught at Stony Brook University before cominig to Brandeis. He book Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, was the Washington Post Book World Best Nonfiction Book for 2006. It was also a finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize; received honorable mention for the 2007 Gustavas Myers Center Outstanding Book Award; and received the inaugural W.E.B. Du Bois Book Award from the Northeastern Black Studies Allliance .  He is the editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era (2006). He is currently working on a biography of Civil Rights and Black Power activist Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and a study of postwar African American history.  Joseph is a frequent national commentator on civil rights, race, and democracy issues and his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Chronicle Review, and the Washington Post. He has reeceived fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Ford Foundation.

Jane Kamensky teaches early American history and cultural history. She was born in New York City, went to Yale (B.A., 1985; Ph.D., 1993), and has taught at Brandeis since 1993. Her major publications include The Colonial Mosaic: American Women, 1600-1760 (1995), and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (1997) and The Exchange Artist: A Story of Paper, Bricks, and Ash in Early National America, (2008).  In 1996 she won Brandeis's Walzer Prize for excellence in teaching, and has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Socieites, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard.

Jonathan Sarna teaches all aspects of American Jewish history, from the colonial period to the twenty-first century, with special emphasis on social, cultural, and religious history. He earned his Ph.D. in 1979 from Yale University. Sarna has written, edited or co-edited 20 books including The American Jewish Experience, People Walk on Their Heads, Jacksonian Jew, The Jews of Boston and American Judaism: A History (Yale University Press), which won the "Jewish Book of the Year" Award and numerous other honors. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper as one of America's fifty most influential American Jews, Sarna was Chief Historian for the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life.

Ibrahim Sundiata teaches Africa, social history, slavery, the African Diaspora, Afro-Brazil. He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1972. His books include Equatorial Guinea and From Slaving to Neoslavery.

Michael Willrich's field is U.S. social and political history, with special interests in legal history, urban history, and the Progressive Era (1890-1920). Born in Washington, Willrich went to Yale (B.A., 1987) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., 1997). He taught at Rice University before coming to Brandeis. His first book, City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago (2003) won the American Historical Association's Dunning Prize and the American Society for Legal History's Cromwell Prize. He is currently writing a book about the great wave of smallpox epidemics that struck American communities around the turn of the twentieth century, spurring the growth of modern public health authority and engendering widespread opposition to the government policy of compulsory vaccination. He has received fellowships from the American Bar Foundation, the Newberry Library, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Other faculty in Brandeis who have taught students in the American history program include Thomas Doherty (film and media studies), Michael T. Gilmore (literature), Benjamin Ravid (Judaic studies), George Ross (sociology); and Steven Whitfield (American studies).

Scholars at other universities who have worked with students in our program include Alfred Chandler (business history), Noam Chomsky (linguistics), David Donald (Civil War and Reconstruction), Robert Fogel (economics), Richard Fox (cultural history), David Hall (religion and popular culture), Morton Horwitz (history of law), William Hutchinson (religion), Robert St. George (vernacular culture), Neal Salisbury (Native American history), Laurel Ulrich (early American history), Sam Bass Warner (urban history), and Donald Worster (environmental history). These arrangements are made on an individual basis, according to need and opportunity.