American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions, 1783-1833 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming January 2018)
This book identifies the roots of America’s cultural tensions by chronicling the earliest cultivations of, as well as oppositions to, ideas of nationality during the country’s first fifty years of existence. It examines how the practice of nationalism took place in three specific contexts—Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina—between the end of the Revolution in 1783 through the Nullification crisis in 1832-33. It argues that conceptions of national identity varied dramatically during this period, and that assuming a unified narrative distorts a dynamic and diverse reality. It further demonstrates how theoretical constructions of nationalism were tethered to personal backgrounds, regional cultures, parochial concerns, and localized political systems.
Depictions of nationalism were more than just cultural rhetoric, a political by-product, or a partisan tool, though they certainly played all of those roles at various times. This manuscript argues that they also functioned as opportunities to think about community, cultural frameworks for understanding political union, and ideological instigators for policy, action, and thought. How one conceived America to be, or how one conceived America should be, led directly to political beliefs and practices. While a wide array of elements resulted in distinct American cultures moving apart from each other during the early nineteenth century, and though all these elements were interdependent and reciprocal, a crucial component was the growing chasm between how various states understood “nationalism” and “union.” In order to understand national fracturing, then, it is important to chart contestations over nationalism.
And finally, the book situates these cultural expressions within a broader and comparative Atlantic framework that includes similar debates that were taking place in Europe, especially in Britain, France, and Germany.
- Q&A with The Junto
- Review at The Junto
- Podcast with Age of Jackson Podcast
- Interview with BYU Radio (starts at 51:20)
- Q&A with John Fea
“Joseph Smith’s Kingdom of God: The Council of Fifty and the Mormon Challenge to American Democracy,” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture (forthcoming December 2018).
“The Angel of Nullification: Memoirs of a Nullifier and Conceiving Cultural Secession in Antebellum South Carolina,” Journal of the Early Republic 37:3 (Fall 2017): 507-536.
“The Bonds of Union: Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, and Federalism’s Contexts,” Early American Studies 15:2 (Spring 2017): 382-408.
“Seeking Early America’s Identities in the Atlantic World,” 49th Parallel: An Interdisciplinary Journal of American Studies 33:2 (Fall 2014): 78-112.
“Transcendental Democracy: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Political Thought, the Legacy of Federalism, and the Ironies of America’s Democratic Tradition,” Journal of American Studies 48:2 (April 2014): 481-500.
“Early Mormon Patriarchy and the Paradoxes of Democratic Religiosity in Jacksonian America,” American Nineteenth Century History 14:2 (Summer 2013): 183-208.
“‘I Object to the Names Deism and Infidelity’: Theodore Parker and the Boundaries of Christianity in Antebellum America,” Journal of Religion and Society 15:1 (January 2013): 1-24.
“‘Reasonings Sufficient’: Joseph Smith, Thomas Dick, and the Context(s) of Early Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History 38:3 (Summer 2012): 210-224. (Special issue in honor of Richard Lyman Bushman.)
“(Re)Interpreting Early Mormon Thought: Synthesizing Joseph Smith’s Theology and the Process of Religious Formation,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 44:2 (Summer 2012): 59-88.
“‘A Uniformity So Complete’: Early Mormon Angelology and Microhistorical Theology,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 2 (2010): 1-37.
“Salvation Through a Tabernacle: Joseph Smith, Parley Pratt, and Early Mormon Theologies of Embodiment,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 43:2 (Summer 2010): 1-44.
“‘Build, Therefore, Your Own World’: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph Smith, and American Antebellum Thought,” Journal of Mormon History 36:1 (Winter 2010): 41-72.
Journal Essays and Book Chapters
“Joseph Smith, Plural Marriage, and Kinship,” in Routledge Handbook on Mormonism and Gender Studies, ed. Amy Hoyt and Taylor Petrey (New York: Routledge, forthcoming).
“The Precariousness of a Protestant Democracy: Mormon and Catholic Conceptions of Democratic Rule in the 1840s,” in Somewhere Between Citizens and Foreigners: Perceptions of Mormons in American Political Culture, ed. Keith Erekson, Brent Rogers, and Spencer McBride (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming).
“Kings and Queens of the Kingdom: Gendering the Mormon Theological Narrative,” in Beyond Biography: Sources in Context for Mormon Women’s History, ed. Rachel Cope and Lisa Tait (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, forthcoming).
“The Council of Fifty and the Perils of Democratic Governance,” in The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History ed. Matthew Grow and Eric Smith (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2017): 43-54.
“A Wall Between Church and Academy,” in Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics, ed. Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson (Draper, UT: Kofford Books, 2017): 113-120.
“Camelot’s Crucible: The Historiographic Context for Refiner’s Fire,” in “John Brooke’s Refiner’s Fire: A Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective,” Journal of Mormon History 41:4 (Fall 2015). (Roundtable organizer.)
“The Book of Mormon and America’s Political and Intellectual Tradition,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 23 (Fall 2014): 174-182.
“Benjamin Franklin, Richard Price, and the Division of Sacred and Secular in the Age of Revolutions,” in Benjamin Franklin’s Intellectual World, ed. Paul Kerry and Matthew Holland (Madison, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press 2012), 119-135.
“The Theology of a Career Convert: Edward Tullidge’s Evolving Identities,” Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought 45:3 (Fall 2012): 38-50.
“Parley Pratt’s Writing as Restoration and Redemption,” in “Perspectives on Parley Pratt’s Autobiography: A Roundtable,” Journal of Mormon History 37:1 (Winter): 158-164.
“Developing a Historian Conscience: Wilford Woodruff and the Preservation of History,” Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints, ed. Steven C. Harper and Rick Turley (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University): 121-141.
Review of Patrick Mason and John G. Turner, Out of Obscurity: Mormonism Since 1945 (New York: Oxford University Press), Journal of Religion (forthcoming).
Review of Philip F. Gura, Man’s Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), Civil War Monitor (forthcoming).
Review of Michael J. Klarman, The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (New York: Oxford University Press), Journal of Southern History (2018).
Review of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (New York: Knopf), Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (2017).
Review of Mark A. Lause, Free Spirits: Spiritualism, Republicanism, and Radicalism in the Civil War Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press), Civil War Monitor (2017).
Review of John Bicknell, America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election that Transformed the Nation (Chicago: Chicago Review Press), BYU Studies Quarterly (2017).
Review of Keith Michael Baker and Dan Edelstein, eds., Scripting Revolution: A Historical Approach to the Comparative Study of Revolutions (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press), H-Diplo (2016).
Review of Colleen A. Shehann, The Mind of James Madison: The Legacy of Classical Republicanism (New York: Cambridge University Press), Journal of American Studies (forthcoming).
Review of Jonathan Den Hartog, Patriotism and Piety: Federalist Politics and Religious Struggle in the New American Nation (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press). Journal of the Early Republic (2016).
Review of Stephanie Kirk and Sarah Rivett, eds., Religious Transformation in the Early Modern Americas (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Journal of American History (2016).
Review of Terryl L. Givens and Reid L. Neilson, The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press). Journal of Mormon History (2016).
Review of Sam Haselby, The Origins of American Religious Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press). William and Mary Quarterly (2015).
Review of Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home: Sentimental Literature and Nineteenth-Century American Religion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Women’s History Review (2015).
Review of W. Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Atlantic Reform (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press). United States Intellectual History Blog (2015).
Review of Alex Beam, American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church (New York: PublicAffairs). Christian Century (2015).
Review of J. Spencer Fluhman, Peculiar People: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press). Journal of Mormon History (2013).
Review of David Holland, Sacred Borders: Continuing Revelation and Canonical Restraint in Early America (New York: Oxford University Press). Journal of Mormon History (2012).
Review of Samuel M. Brown, In Heaven as It is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death (New York: Oxford University Press). Patheos (2012).
Review of Christopher Flynn, Americans in British Literature, 1770-1832 (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate). 49th Parallel: An Interdisciplinary Journal of North American Studies (2011).
Reference Book Entries
“George Bancroft” and “Philip Tappan,” in The Dictionary of Early American Philosophers, ed. John R. Shook (New York: Continuum, 2012).
“Book of Mormon Witnesses,” in Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia, ed. W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall (New York: ABC-CLIO, 2010).