Faculty: Global Early Modern Constellation


Core Faculty

John Brooke explores questions of colonialism and globalization as an Early Americanist and a global environmental historian. He has worked for some time on the problems posed by politics, religion, and public life in early America, in microhistories shaped by the wider literatures on early modern Atlantic histories of the past forty years. His first book, The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1713-1861 (1989), was an effort to use emerging approaches in cultural history to bridge the methods and traditions of “community study” and the “new political history.” Columbia: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson (2010), explores the dynamics of civil society, the public sphere, and revolutionary settlement. The Refiners Fire: The Origins of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, argues that the origins of the theology of Mormonism has to be understood in the context of the material spiritualism embedded in early modern European hermetic belief and alchemical practice. His most recent book, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey, situates the key transitions of the global early modern in a world historical narrative of climate, technology, and demography, and resilience.

Nicholas Breyfogle is a specialist in the history of empire-building and colonialism in the Russian/Soviet Empire and Eurasia, and in global environmental and water history. He is the author of Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia's Empire in the South Caucasus (Cornell University Press, 2005), which was awarded the Ohio Academy of History Book Award for 2006. He is also co-editor of Peopling the Russian Periphery: Borderland Colonization in Eurasian History (Routledge, 2007, pk 2009) and author of the prize-winning article “Enduring Imperium: Russia/Soviet Union/Eurasia as Multiethnic, Multiconfessional Space,” Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Space (no. 1, 2008): 35-86. He is currently working on an environmental history of the Lake Baikal region of Siberia, tentatively entitled “Baikal: the Great Lake and its People.”

Philip Brown has recently completed a book manuscript, Cultivating Commons: Joint Ownership of Arable Land in Early Modern Japan, which examines a mechanism by which Japanese villagers adapted to geographic and microclimatic variations within their villages, including amelioration of potential damage to croplands from floods and landslides. His current project, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities/Japan-US Friendship Commission, and the Fulbright-Hays program of the U.S. Department of Education, focuses on long-term study of efforts to use social and civil engineering to ameliorate flood and landslide risk over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His project combines assessment of administrative and technological efforts at national, regional and local levels.

Alcira Dueñas is Associate Professor of Colonial and Modern Latin America, Women’s History in Latin America and World History at the Newark campus. Her first book Indians and Mestizos in the Lettered City: Reshaping Justice, Social Hierarchy and Political Culture in Colonial Peru examines Andean political culture and notions of ethnicity and race promoted by early modern Spanish chroniclers, missionaries, and colonial officials, and how such notions were contested, reformulated, and redeployed by Indian and Mestizo intellectuals in the colonial Andes to strengthen their own agenda for ethnic autonomy. She also teaches the process of state formation in South America. In her teaching, she emphasizes religious, gender, political and art cultures as important factors shaping and shaped by people’s life experience.

Matt Goldish is currently the Samuel M. and Esther Melton Professor of Jewish History, and Director of the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at The Ohio State University. He is author of Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period (2008); The Sabbatean Prophets (2004); and Judaism in the Theology of Sir Isaac Newton (1998); as well as numerous articles and book chapters. He is also editor of Rabbinic Culture and Its Critics: Jewish Authority, Dissent, and Heresy in Medieval and Early Modern Times (with D. Frank; 2008); Spirit Possession in Judaism: Cases and Contexts from the Middle Ages to the Present (2003); and Millenarianism and Messianism in Early Modern European Culture, Book 1: Jewish Messianism in the Early Modern World (with R.H. Popkin; 2001). Professor Goldish is a long-time teacher in the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, and is now teaching his second year for the Wexner Foundation Heritage Program. He has presented hundreds of talks to audiences of scholars, university students, and community learners from numerous backgrounds. He is also Co-Director of the Jewish History Media Project, which is now completing its first film, The Other Men in Black: The Hasidic Movement, Past and Present. Matt Goldish is Writer and Executive Producer of this multimedia docu-drama.

Jane Hathaway is an expert on the Ottoman Empire before 1800. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1992. She has published five books; the most recent (currently in press with Cambridge) is The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem: Head of the African Eunuchs at the Sultan’s Court. Her other books include The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1800 (Pearson/Longman, 2008), winner of the Turkish Studies Association’s M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize; A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen (SUNY Press, 2003), winner of the 2005 Ohio Academy of History Publication Award; and The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdağlıs (Cambridge, 1997). She has also published four edited volumes and many articles. In addition to Ottoman eunuchs and the Ottoman Arab provinces, she has expertise on Jewish communities under Muslim rule, the Mamluk Sultanate, and world history. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Social Science Research Council.

Tryntje Helfferich, Tryntje Helfferich received her Ph.D. in early modern European history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies central Europe and France during the early modern period (1450-1815), with a particular focus on the Reformation era (1500-1650) and the period of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). She is interested in the history of war, the history of religion, early modern European women and gender history, and diplomatic history. Her publications include The Essential Thirty Years War (Hackett, 2015); On the Freedom of a Christian (Hackett, 2013); The Iron Princess: Amalia Elisabeth and the Thirty Years War (Harvard, 2013); and The Thirty Years War: A Documentary History (Hackett, 2009).

Scott Levi is a historian of the social and economic history of early modern Central Asia. He has authored The Rise and Fall of Khoqand, 1709–1876: Central Asia in the Global Age (Pittsburgh University Press, 2017); Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road (Penguin, 2015); and The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade, 1550-1900 (E. J. Brill, 2002). He has also edited India and Central Asia: Commerce and Culture, 1500–1800 (Oxford University Press, 2007) and co-edited Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Sources (Indiana University Press, 2010). His current project, “Early Modern Connections: Global Integration and the 18th-Century Bukharan Crisis,” examines a number of ways that historical processes unfolding across the early modern world led to the collapse of the Bukharan Khanate.

Dodie McDow’s research focuses on the Western Indian Ocean in the 19th century and examines the business and family networks that linked Arabia, the East African Coast, and the African interior. He is interested in World, Islamic, Indian Ocean, and African History and is drawn to themes of trade, migration, diaspora, slavery, and colonialism, with a growing interest in the history of medicine. His Buying Time: Debt and Mobility in the Western Indian Ocean will be published in the New African Histories Series by Ohio University Press in 2018.

Margaret Ellen Newell studied History and Spanish at Brown University, and received her Ph.D. in Early American History from the University of Virginia. Prof. Newell's research and teaching interests include colonial and Revolutionary America, Native American history, slavery, the history of early modern capitalism, and comparative colonial American/Latin American History. Her most recent book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery won the 2016 James A. Rawley prize for the best book on race relations in America from the Organization of American Historians, and the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Prize from the Massachusetts Historical Society. Other works include From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England (Cornell University Press, 1998; new edition 2015); “The Birth of New England in the Atlantic Economy, 1600-1770,” in Peter Temin, ed., Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England (Harvard University Press, 2000); a review of American economic history through 1800, “The Colonial Economy,” in The Blackwell Companion to Colonial America, ed. Daniel Vickers (2002); and “Putting the ‘Political’ Back in Political Economy (This is Not Your Parents’ Mercantilism),” William and Mary Quarterly, (2012).

Chris Otter’s research focuses on the history of technology and environment, primarily in Britain and Western Europe, but also with a global focus. He is the author of The Victorian Eye: A Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800-1910 (Chicago, 2008), and is currently completing The Vital State: Food Systems, Nutrition Transitions, and the Making of Industrial Britain 1750-1950, also with the University of Chicago Press. His future projects include a technological history of Earth since around 1700, and a thousand-year history of Britain. He is particularly interested in the transitions – in energy systems, food habits, human ecologies, epidemiology and demography – that divide a putatively “early modern” world from a “modern” one.

Geoffrey Parker is a Distinguished University Professor and the Andreas Dorpalen Professor of European History, who studies the social, political, and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1700, with special reference to Spain and its empire. Professor Parker advised more than thirty PhD theses to completion and is the author or editor of thirty-seven books, including The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road; The logistics of Spanish victory and defeat in the Low Countries Wars, 1567-1659; Philip II; The Grand Strategy of Philip II; The Spanish Armada; Europe in Crisis, 1598-1648; The Dutch Revolt; The Thirty Years’ War; The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800; and most recently Global Crisis: War, climate change and catastrophe in the 17th Century, which examines the fatal synergy between natural and human factors that created acute political, economic, intellectual, and social upheaval around the globe in the mid-seventeenth century.

Randolph Roth is a professor of history and sociology who specializes in the history of the United States from colonial times to the present, with an emphasis on social and cultural history, the history of crime and violence, environmental history, the history of religion, quantitative methods, and social theory. He is the author of American Homicide, an interregional, internationally comparative study of homicide in the United States from colonial times to the present. This work argues that homicides rates in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world are determined by factors such as the feelings that people have toward their government, the degree to which they identify with members of their own communities, and the opportunities they have to earn respect without resorting to violence. Professor Roth is currently completing a companion volume, Child Murder in America, a study of homicides of and by children from colonial times to the present.

Sam White is assistant professor of environmental history, and his work focuses on the early modern world. His research specializes on past climate changes and extreme weather, combining scientific data and historical sources to better reconstruct these episodes and understand their influence on human history. His first book, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011), explores the far-reaching effects of severe cold and drought in the Middle East during the “Little Ice Age” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It won the Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani award, the Turkish Studies Association Fuat Köprülü award, and the British-Kuwaiti Friendship Society prize for the best book in Middle East and Turkish studies. His current research, recently supported by fellowships at the John Carter Brown and Huntington libraries, examines the role of climate in the early exploration and settlement of North America. It compares English, Spanish and French efforts to grapple with a new and unfamiliar climate and with Little Ice Age cold and drought, leading up to the contemporaneous colonies of Jamestown, Santa Fe, and Quebec. Prof. White is also the co-founder and website administrator of climatehistorynetwork.com and vice-president of a new International Society for Historical Climatology and Climate History.

Ying Zhang’s research focuses on Chinese political and gender history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She is particularly interested in studying Confucian ethics, literati-officials and government through gendered analysis of political rhetoric and emotions. Her current book project is entitled The Unbearable Perfection of Being: Image Politics and Confucian Moralism in Seventeenth-Century China. She has authored articles in both Chinese history and Women’s Studies. She has co-edited Masculinity Studies (in Chinese, 2012) to introduce Western scholarship on masculinity. She offers undergraduate and graduate courses in early modern Chinese history and gender and sexuality in pre-modern and modern China.

Affiliated Faculty

Alice L. Conklin is an historian of modern France and its empire. She has recently published In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology and Empire in France, 1850-1950 (Cornell, 2013). She is also the co-author of France and Its Empire since 1870 (2010), and her first book A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895-1930 (1997) examined French colonial ideology and practices on the ground in Sub-Saharan Africa. She teaches courses on the History of the Idea of Race in Europe 1500 to the Present, on Colonial Encounters, and on Modern France and its Empire.

Joan E. Cashin specializes in social, economic, and cultural history, including the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras. She has published A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, 1994); Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996); The War was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002) [editor]; and First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War (2006, 2008). The Davis biography won the Fletcher Pratt Award from the Civil War Roundtable of New York and was a finalist for three other prizes. Cashin has also published sixteen articles in scholarly publications. She has served on the prize committees for the Beveridge-Dunning Prize, the Berkshire Prize, and the Lincoln Prize, as well as the selection committee for the James Madison Fellowship, among other prizes; currently she serves on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and the editorial board of the Journal of Family History. Since 1994, she has co-edited a series on Gender Relations in the American Experience at Johns Hopkins University Press, with Professor Ron Walters.