My research focuses on transatlantic migration, religious conflict, gender, and the impact of revolution on American society and the Atlantic World. I am currently writing a book tentatively titled “Immigrant Voices: European and African Stories of Freedom, Unfreedom, and Identity in the Americas through Four Centuries.” This project investigates hundreds of English, Irish, German, Spanish, and other European immigrant voices from the Americas, as well as dozens of European convict and African slave narratives to explore free and unfree migrant hopes, dreams, fears, and expectations, as well as the realities of their experiences. It considers how immigrants responded to the contradictory environments of freedom and unfreedom they encountered while moving or being moved between worlds and how these drastic changes affected their identity and views of their homes. My concern is to explore and highlight unequal access to opportunity, as well as paradoxes of freedom and unfreedom present in Atlantic and especially U.S. history.
My most recent book is Two Troubled Souls: An Eighteenth-Century Couple’s Spiritual Journey in the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2013), which won the American Historical Association’s 2014 James Rawley Prize for the best book in Atlantic History. Two Troubled Souls was widely reviewed and recently featured in a multi-lingual book debate in Social Sciences Missions. I have also authored Jesus Is Female: Moravians and the Challenge of Radical Religion in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), and Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
I have published articles in The Journal of American History, The William and Mary Quarterly, Atlantic History, Historische Anthropologie, Pietismus und Neuzeit, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, The Journal of Early Modern History, Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History, Social Sciences and Missions, Unitas Fratrum, The Georgia Historical Quarterly, The American Revolution Reborn, and elsewhere.
I have lectured and presented my work in Europe, throughout the United States, and in the Caribbean. I publish in German and English and conduct research in those languages and in Dutch and French. I have worked in archives throughout east and west Germany. I taught American Studies for a year in Frankfurt as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair. I was also a Fulbright Honorary Senior Scholar in Göttingen and a Fulbright graduate student in Freiburg for two years. I was an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for History in Göttingen twice and has been a seminar fellow and presented work numerous other times at the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard University. In addition to the above agencies, the American Philosophical Society, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the German Historical Institute in Washington, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the Library Company of Philadelphia have funded my research. I have also presented my work through numerous public engagement venues, to include newspapers, magazines, and lectures.
I have reviewed books for The Journal of American History, The American Historical Review, The William and Mary Quarterly, European History Quarterly, New West Indian Guide, Church History, The Journal of American Ethnic History, International Migration Review, Sehepunkte, Pietismus und Neuzeit, The Historian, Reviews in History, and others.
- Two Troubled Souls: An Eighteenth-Century Couple’s Spiritual Journey in the Atlantic World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
- Jesus Is Female: Moravians and the Challenge of Radical Religion in Early America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.
- Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
- “The Transformation of the Atlantic World, 1776-1867," Atlantic Studies, 6:1, April 2009, 5-28.
- “Jesus Is Female: The Moravian Challenge in the German Communities of British North America,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 60, April 2003, 295-332.
- “Native Americans, Pietists, and Colonial North American History: A Review Article,” Pietismus und Neuzeit, 27, 2001, 277-296.
- “Shadow Boxing in Georgia: The Beginnings of the Moravian-Lutheran Conflict in British North America,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, 83, 1999, 629-659.
- “From Slaves, Convicts, and Servants to Free Passengers: The Transformation of Immigration in the Era of the American Revolution,” The Journal of American History, 85, 1998, 43-76.
I teach courses in two areas. The first is early America, which includes the study of Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans primarily in eastern North America from early colonization until the early 19th century. Of special interest here is identifying the kind of colonial society that developed up to the mid-18th century and then the nature of change that occurred thereafter as a result of the American Revolution. The second area is the Atlantic World, 1492-1867, which addresses the rise, nature, and transformation of the world made by contacts among Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans on the four continents and the Atlantic Ocean during this period.
- HIST 260 American History to 1865
- HIST 261 U.S. since 1865
- HIST 395 Historical Methods
- HIST 459/559 The Atlantic World, 1492-1867
- HIST 460/560 Colonial America
- HIST 461/561 The American Revolution
- HIST 495 Senior Thesis
- HIST 690 Reading Seminar in the History of the Atlantic World, 1492-1867
- HIST 790 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic World, 1492-1867
Affiliate, Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Presidential Research Professor
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1991
Early America, Atlantic World