Ben, HT King HousePostdoctoral Fellow, Forum on Constitutional Democracy
Department of History, University of Missouri
215 Read Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
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  • PhD, History, University of Cambridge (2014)
  • MPhil, Political Thought and Intellectual History, University of Cambridge (2011)
  • MSc, Historical Theology, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh (2010)
  • BA, English and History, Brigham Young University (2009)

I received my PhD in American history from the University of Cambridge. My interests include the cultural, religious, political, and intellectual history of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Atlantic world, especially in the early American republic. My current research focuses on the intersections between local contexts, broader affiliations, and cultural identities. My book manuscript, titled “The Interests of America: Cultivations of Nationalism in the Early Republic, 1783-1833,” examines post-revolutionary Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina in attempt to explore early American conceptions of nationalism and citizenship during the five decades following political independence.

I am also finishing a short book that examines the democratic thought of those individuals associated with the antebellum literary and philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism. While focusing on a seemingly narrow topic, how these writers incorporated French and German ideas into their own political philosophies, this book seeks to address broader questions of intellectual appropriation, the limits of cultural exceptionalism, and the paradoxes that have saturated American democratic thought. Once these first two books are completed, I will turn my attention to a major project on the nexus of citizenship, religion, and gender in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, spanning from 1775 through 1815, and including America, Europe, and the Caribbean. Beyond exploring how these potent topics influenced and were influenced by each other in a myriad of contexts and through a multitude of opinions, I seek to place the writings of American authors like Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, and Deborah Sampson Gannett into conversation with European authors like Catalina de Erauso, Christian Davies, Hanna Snell, and Olympe de Gouges.

Other research interests include cultural and religious identity politics during the early Republic and American antebellum period. I have written and presented on Benjamin Franklin, the Transcendentalist movement, early Mormon theology and ritual, and the controversial minister Theodore Parker’s challenge to traditional Christian boundaries, among other topics. Most of my scholarship focuses on the interactions between religious thought and cultural environment(s), as well as the relationship between Christian affiliation and American citizenship.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, where I teach courses in the history department and help arrange lectures, seminars, and other events associated with the Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy.