Nicolino Calyo, "The Auctioneer in Public Streets," ca. 1840-1848

I am a writer, historian, and associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
My research is concerned primarily with the cultural and intellectual history of early America and the Atlantic world, with particular focus on gender and political culture. I am particularly concerned with the ways that men and women in the past interacted with politics and cultural notions of belonging via the mediums of writing, oratory, and visual images. Above all, I emphasize to extent to which non-elite members of the public helped to construct politics and a broader culture.
To this end, I have examined Americans' fascination with Indian eloquence after the Revolution; schoolgirls' vindications of female oratorical excellence; debates over the best means of advocating world peace during the antebellum era (and, along the way, the best way to be a male pacifist); portrayals of masculinity and sexuality in popular texts about Atlantic pirates; and accounts of mixed-race families in Atlantic travelogues, accounts that often disrupted the European narrators' sense of cultural and racial superiority.
My book, A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public After the Revolution (2009), received the James Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR), and was a finalist for the Best Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.
I am currently developing two book manuscripts: one entitled The Strange Genius of Mr. O.: Oratory, the Media, and Fame in Early America on an eccentric nineteenth-century oratorical celebrity named James Ogilvie, and the second entitled Learning to See: Gender and Travel in the Atlantic World of Print.

Website last updated June 2014.