- Associate Professor
- Pettengill Hall, Room 113
B.A., Amherst College; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
I teach courses about colonial North America, the United States’ War for Independence, environmental history, and Native American history. My favorite class is a Short Term course on the history of Wabanakis, the collective term for the Penobscots, Passamaquoddies, Mi’kmaqs, and Maliseets of Maine but also New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
My principal scholarly interests focus on Native American interactions with Europeans during the colonial period. I have written a book exploring how European and Native American understandings of trade and gift-giving shaped the history of the Southeast between 1350 and 1740, but more recently my interests have shifted north. (See the link to the book below.) I am currently developing a research project around the question of how Wabanakis cultivated their ties to their homelands even as European-American colonists dispossessed them of most of that territory. It is inspired by a longstanding curiosity about the contemporary place of our colonial past and a developing desire to collaborating with Wabanaki historians on questions of common interest.
My love for history springs from what I saw—and overlooked—in my childhood. My hometown, Newport, Rhode Island, has long trumpeted its pre-Revolutionary past, and there are dozens of beautiful colonial homes to justify the local pride. Only late in college, though, did I realize that enterprising English colonists had not settled an empty colony. Although I knew “Narragansett” as a beautiful bay and a cheap beer, I had never thought much about the Narragansett people who continue to shape Rhode Island’s history. Such a late epiphany for one fascinated by history was embarrassing, but it made clear to me that the biggest blind spots about our past are frequently the ones right in front of our faces. Whatever I teach, I continue to ask questions about the stories we tell and why. I may not make every student of history into a lover of history, but I hope that what I have to say about it encourages people to think carefully about where they are and how they got there.
- American Indian History
- Origins of the New Nation, 1500-1820