Recent Faculty Books

"Origins of the Chinese Nation" by Nicolas Tackett

The Origins of the Chinese Nation: Song China and the Forging of an East Asian World Order

Nicolas Tackett | Cambridge University Press | December 2017


In this major new study, Nicolas Tackett proposes that the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) witnessed both the maturation of an East Asian inter-state system and the emergence of a new worldview and sense of Chinese identity among educated elites. These developments together had sweeping repercussions for the course of Chinese history, while also demonstrating that there has existed in world history a viable alternative to the modern system of nation-states. Utilising a wide array of historical, literary, and archaeological sources, chapters focus on diplomatic sociability, cosmopolitan travel, military strategy, border demarcation, ethnic consciousness, and the cultural geography of Northeast Asia. In this ground breaking new approach to the history of the East Asian inter-state system, Tackett argues for a concrete example of a pre-modern nationalism, explores the development of this nationalism, and treats modern nationalism as just one iteration of a phenomenon with a much longer history.

"The Peace of God" by Geoffrey Koziol

The Peace of God

Geoffrey Koziol | ARC Humanities Press | February 2018


The Peace of God was one of the most important, and one of the most contested, movements of the entire Middle Ages. It has been seen as either radically innovative or fundamentally traditional; as strongly millenarian or not millenarian at all; as the first great popular movement in European history or as an instrument by which elites consolidated their power. In this book, Geoffrey Koziol argues that all such differing viewpoints have some basis in fact, partly because specific instantiations of the Peace of God varied greatly, but also because from its very beginning the movement brought to the fore the contradictions inherent in earlier ideas and rituals of peace and peace-making.

"Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories," translated and edited by Sean Franzel and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann

Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories

Reinhart Koselleck, Translated & Edited by Sean Franzel & Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann

Stanford University Press | May 2018


Sediments of Time features the most important essays by renowned German historian Reinhart Koselleck not previously available in English, several of them essential to his theory of history. The volume sheds new light on Koselleck's crucial concerns, including his theory of sediments of time; his theory of historical repetition, duration, and acceleration; his encounters with philosophical hermeneutics and political and legal thought; his concern with the limits of historical meaning; and his views on historical commemoration, including that of the Second World War and the Holocaust. A critical introduction addresses some of the challenges and potentials of Koselleck's reception in the Anglophone world.

Read the introduction

"Accounting for Slavery" by Caitlin Rosenthal

Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management

Caitlin Rosenthal | Harvard University Press | August 2018


Accounting for Slavery is a unique contribution to the decades-long effort to understand New World slavery's complex relationship with capitalism. Through careful analysis of plantation records, Caitlin Rosenthal explores the development of quantitative management practices on West Indian and Southern plantations. She shows how planter-capitalists built sophisticated organizational structures and even practiced an early form of scientific management. They subjected enslaved people to experiments, such as allocating and reallocating labor from crop to crop, planning meals and lodging, and carefully recording daily productivity. The incentive strategies they crafted offered rewards but also threatened brutal punishment.

"The Chinese Pleasure Book" by Michael Nylan

The Chinese Pleasure Book

Michael Nylan | Zone Books | October 2018


This book takes up one of the most important themes in Chinese thought: the relation of pleasurable activities to bodily health and the health of the body politic. All early writings on the subject contrast pleasure not with pain but with insecurity, in an important contrast with Western writings devoted to the same subject. All assume that it is right and proper to seek and take pleasure, as well as short-term delight, but equally that certain long-term relational pleasures are more easily sustained, as well as potentially more satisfying and less damaging. The pleasures that become deeper and more ingrained as the person invests time and effort to their cultivation include friendship and music, sharing with others, developing integrity and greater clarity, reading and classical learning, and going home. Each of these fields of activity is explored through the early sources (mainly fourth century BC to the eleventh century AD), with new translations provided for both well-known and seldom-cited texts.

"The Occupation of Havana" by Elena Schneider

The Occupation of Havana: War, Trade, and Slavery in the Atlantic World

Elena A. Schneider | University of North Carolina Press | November 2018


In 1762, British forces mobilized more than 230 ships and 26,000 soldiers, sailors, and enslaved Africans to attack Havana, one of the wealthiest and most populous ports in the Americas. They met fierce resistance. Spanish soldiers and local militias in Cuba, along with enslaved Africans who were promised freedom, held off the enemy for six suspenseful weeks. In the end, the British prevailed, but more lives were lost in the invasion and subsequent eleven-month British occupation of Havana than during the entire Seven Years' War in North America.

"The Birth of Modern Belief" by Ethan Shagan

The Birth of Modern Belief: Faith and Judgment from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment

Ethan H. Shagan | Princeton University Press | December 2018


This landmark book traces the history of belief in the Christian West from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, revealing for the first time how a distinctively modern category of belief came into being. Ethan Shagan focuses not on what people believed, which is the normal concern of Reformation history, but on the more fundamental question of what people took belief to be.

"They Were Her Property" by Stephanie Jones-Rogers

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers | Yale University Press | February 2019


Bridging women's history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South's slave market.

Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that prompts a rethinking of women's history and the history of slavery.