I grew up in Southern Maryland in a place whose beauty hid its past, particularly slavery and its legacies. After graduate degrees at Harvard Divinity School and the University of Virginia I became a historian of slavery, capitalism, and African American inequality with a focus on nineteenth-century American history. I am currently Professor of History at Arizona State University and the Dean’s Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences–also a Fellow of ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research in 2019-20.
In addition to a number of articles and essays, I have published three sole-authored books including Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery, The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860, and Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South.
I am at heart a teacher and educator dedicated to bringing diverse subjects to life in the classroom, awaking and nurturing students’ passion for history, and opening students to unimagined career possibilities. I am an eager advisor and have mentored senior and honors theses in African American, Southern, nineteenth-century U.S., economic, literary, and business history. Ph.D. students on whose committees I sit or chair are writing or have defended dissertations on slavery, gender, capitalism, and incarceration. Some have gone on to academic jobs, and I am immensely proud of their stunning creativity and diligence. I regularly teach undergraduate surveys, viewing 100-level courses as ambassadors to the history major. I also teach a broad range of courses in African American, Atlantic, and North American history, the early U.S. republic, Civil War and Reconstruction, along with thematic courses on capitalism, forced migration, and global slavery. Arizona State has recognized these contributions with both of its top teaching honors, the Centennial Professorship in 2011 and the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award in 2019.