Curriculum vitae

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James A. Epstein August 2015


Ph.D. University of Birmingham, UK, Department of Medieval and Modern History, l970-l977

Thesis: "Feargus O'Connor and Working-Class Radicalism, l832-l84l: A Study in National Chartist Leadership,” 603 pp. Degree awarded: June l977

B.A. (Honours) University of Sussex, School of English and American Studies, History major, l967-l970


Professor, 1995- (Distinguished Professor 2009-); Associate Professor, 1990-95; Assistant Professor, 1986-90; Vanderbilt University, Department of History

Visiting Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History, l984-85

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History, l983-84

Visiting Assistant Professor, Duke University, Department of History, l98l-83

Visiting Assistant Professor, Sweet Briar College, Department of History, l980-8l



The Lion of Freedom: Feargus O'Connor and the Chartist Movement, l832-l842, Croom Helm, London, l982, pp. 327; reprinted by Breviary Stuff, London, 2015

The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working Class Radicalism and Culture, l830-l860, Macmillan, London, l982, co-edited with Dorothy Thompson, pp. 396

Radical Expression: Political Language, Ritual, and Symbol in England, 1790-1850, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1994, pp. 232; reprinted by Breviary Stuff, London, 2015

In Practice: Studies in the Language and Culture of Popular Politics in Modern Britain

Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2003, pp. 206

Scandal of Colonial Rule: Power and Subversion in the British Atlantic During the Age of Revolution, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 289
Articles, Book Chapters, & Essays in Review

"Feargus O'Connor and the Northern Star," International Review of Social History, 2l (l976):


"Interviews with Chartist Prisoners: HO 20/l0," with C. Godfrey, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, no.34 (spring, l977): 26-34.

"Some Organizational and Cultural Aspects of the Chartist Movement in Nottingham," in Chartist Experience, ed. Epstein and Thompson (Macmillan, 1982), pp. 22l-68

"The People and the People's Charter," International Labor and Working Class History, no. 28 (fall, l985): 70-78

"Rethinking the Categories of Working Class History," Labour/Le Travail, no. l8 (fall, 1986): l95-208

"Radical Dining, Toasting, and Symbolic Expression in Early Nineteenth-Century Lancashire:

Rituals of Solidarity," Albion 20 (1988): 27l-9l

"Understanding the Cap of Liberty: Symbolic Practice and Social Conflict in Early Nineteenth-Century England," Past and Present, no. l22 ( Feb, 1989): 75-118

"Reflections on National Chartist Leadership, Strategy, and Organization," Proceedings of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1989, 2: 25-38

"The Constitutional Idiom: Radical Reasoning, Rhetoric, and Action in Early Nineteenth-Century England," Journal of Social History, 23 (1990): 553-74

“Rhetoric of Silence: Some Reflections on Law, Literature, and Social Violence," Vanderbilt Law Review, 43 (1990): 1701-06

“Feargus O’Connor,” with Ian Foster, in Foster, Heronsgate: The First 150 Years of the Estate (Rickmansworth, 1990), pp. 41-52

“The Populist Turn," Journal of British Studies, 32 (1993):177-89

"National Chartist Leadership: Perspectives," in The Duty of Discontent: Essays for Dorothy Thompson, ed. Owen Ashton, et al (Mansell, 1995), pp. 33-54

“‘Bred as a Mechanic’: Plebeian Intellectuals and Popular Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century England," in Intellectuals and Public Life, ed. Leon Fink, et al, (Cornell University Press, 1996), pp. 53-73

"'Our Real Constitution’: Trial Defence and Radical Memory in the Age of Revolution," in Re-reading the Constitution, ed. James Vernon (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 22-


"Turn, turn, turn: Victorian Britain's Postmodern Season," Journal of Victorian Culture, 1 (1996): 324-33

"The Nineteenth-Century Gentleman Leader Revisited," with John Belchem, Social History, 22

(1997): 173-92

"Signs of the Social," Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997): 473-84

“Spatial Practices/Democratic Vistas,” Social History, 24 (1999): 294-310

“From Ritual Practice to Cultural Text,” Memoria y Civilización, 3 (2000): 127-60

“‘America’ in Victorian Cultural Imagination," in Anglo-American Perspectives, ed. Fred Leventhal & Roland Quinault (Ashgate, 2000) pp. 107-23

“‘Equality and No King:’ Sedition and Sociability — The Case of John Frost," in Romantic Sociability: Social Networks and Literary Culture in Britain, 1770-1840, ed. Gillian Russell & Claire Tuite (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 43-61

“Under America’s Sign: Two Nineteenth-Century British Readings,” European Journal of American Culture, 23 (2004): 95-109

“Taking Class Notes on Empire,” in At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World, ed. Catherine Hall and Sonya Rose (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 251-74

“Politics of Colonial Sensation: The Trial of Thomas Picton and the Cause of Louisa Calderon,” American Historical Review,112 (June 2007): 712-41

“Playing at Revolution: British ‘Jacobin’ Performance,” with David Karr, Journal of Modern History, 79 (Sept. 2007): 495-530

“The Radical Underworld Goes Colonial: P. F. McCallum’s Travels in Trinidad,” in Unrespectable Radicals? Popular Politics in the Age of Reform, ed. Michael T. Davis and Paul Pickering (Ashgate. 2008), pp. 147-66

“In Search of Free Labour: Trinidad and the Abolition of the British Slave Trade,” in Gender, Labour, War, and Empire: Essays on Modern Britain, ed. Philippa Levine and Susan Grayzel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 33-50

“‘The Shrug of Horror’: Creole Performance at King’s Bench,” in Settlers, Creoles, and Historical Re-Enactment, ed. Jonathan Lamb and Vanessa Agnew (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 94-106

“Freedom Rules/Colonial Fractures,” in The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain, ed. Simon Gunn and James Vernon (University of California Press, 2011), pp. 37-53

“Exploitation: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis?,” Labour/Le Travail, 72 (Fall, 2013): 224-28


“Introduction: Victorian Subjects,” Journal of British Studies, 34 (1995): 294-99

“Introduction: New Directions in Political History,” Journal of British Studies, 41 (2002): 255-58

“Preface,” new edition of The Lion of Freedom, 2015 [see above]

Advisory Editor, The Pickering Masters Selected Writings of William Cobbett, 6 volumes (Pickering & Chatto,1998)

Advisory Editor, London Corresponding Society Published Writings, 6 volumes, (Pickering & Chatto, 2002)

Reviews & Encyclopedia Entries

Reviews in: Albion, American Historical Review, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, English Historical Review, Gender and History, International Labor and Working-Class History, The Historian, History Workshop, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Modern History, Journal of Victorian Culture, Labor History, Labour/Le Travail, London Review of Books, New West Indian Guide, Social History, South Atlantic Quarterly, Victorian Studies

Entries in: Encyclopedia of Social History (Garland, New York, 1993) (Chartism, Combination Acts, Luddism); Dictionary of 19th Century World History (Blackwell and Penguin, London, 1994) (Chartism, Feargus O'Connor, Ten Hours Act); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP, Oxford, 2004) (Feargus O’Connor, T. J. Wooler)
Reviews and Review Essays: [2000-present]

“Poisoning the Minds of the People,” Journal of Modern History, 72 (2000): 517-19

“Great Palladium,” London Review of Books, 22, no.17 (7 Sept., 2000): 25-26

“Morality and the Market in Victorian Britain,” American Historical Review, 105 (2000): 282-83

“Land Reform and Working-Class Experience in Britain and the United States,” Albion, 32 (2000): 139-40

“Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 32 (2001): 291-92

The Politics of Regicide in England, 1760-1850,” American Historical Review, 107 (2002):


“ “Civilising Subjects” & “The Island Race,”Gender and History, 15 (2003): 373-75

“Late Victorian Holocausts,” Victorian Studies, 45 (2003): 529-30.

“Ernest Jones, Chartism and the Romance of Politics, 1819-1869" & “Women’s Wrongs,”

review essay, Journal of Victorian Culture, 9 (2004): 264-70

“The Absent-Minded Imperialists,” American Historical Review, 112 (2007): 587-88

“The Magna Carta Manifesto,” featured review, American Historical Review, 114 (2009): 701-03

“Radical Lives,” Journal of Victorian Culture, 14 (2009): 308-12

“Justice Denied,” History Workshop, 72 (2011), review essay: 289-96

“The Roots of Radicalism,” Social History, 38 (2013): 259-61

“The Last Caribbean Frontier,” New West Indian Guide, 88 (2014): 216-18

“Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India,” Victorian Studies, 56 (2014), 520-21

“The State of Freedom,” American Historical Review: 119 (2014), 981-82

“Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain,” Victorian Studies, 57 (2015): 298-300

“Radical Moves,” review essay (3,000 words), Victorian Studies, forthcoming

Research and Writing in Progress

Under America’s Sign: Imagining the Modern in British Culture,1790s to 1950s, book project

“Among the Romantics: E. P. Thompson and the Poetics of Disenchantment,” article

Professional Activity

Stansky Book Prize Committee, NACBS, 2015

Executive Committee, Southern Conference on British Studies (2006-09)

Donald Gray Prize Committee, North American Victorian Studies Association (2007, 2009)

Morris D. Forkosch Prize Committee, American Historical Association, (2005-08), Chair (2008)

Co-Editor, Journal of British Studies, 2000-05

Council, North American Conference on British Studies (fall 1997-fall 2001)

Editorial Board, Journal of British Studies (1991-96)

Member, American Historical Association, North American Conference on British Studies, Association of Caribbean Historians

Reader for: Victorian Studies, Gender and History, Journal of British Studies, Journal of Modern History, Historical Journal, History, and various university presses

Awards, Fellowships, & Grants

Co-Winner Stansky Book Prize, 2013, North American Conference on British Studies, Best book in British Studies, post-1800, for Scandal of Colonial Rule

NEH Fellowship, Newberry Library, 2005-06

American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant, 2003

Vanderbilt Research Scholar Grant, 2002-03, 2005-06

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, The Huntington Library, summer 2001

Vanderbilt Humanities Center, co-director, fellows seminar, “Question of Culture,” 1995-96

National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellowship for University Teachers, 1994-95

British Council Prize in the Humanities, best book in British studies 1800 to the present, published in 1993 or 1994, for Radical Expression

Vanderbilt University Research Council, Summer Stipend, 1990, 1994, 1998

Walter D. Love Prize, best article published in 1989, North American Conference on British Studies, for "Understanding the Cap of Liberty"

American Council of Learned Societies, Grant-in-aid of Research, summer 1990

National Endowment for the Humanities, Small Grant for Travel to Collections, summer 1990

Vanderbilt Humanities Center, Fellowship, Faculty Seminar, “Public Rhetoric,” 1989-90

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, June-Aug. 1989

American Philosophical Society, Research Grant for travel to England, May-June 1989

Bernadotte E. Schmitt Award, AHA, for research in England, summer l989

National Humanities Center, Fellowship, l985-l986

American Council of Learned Societies, Grant-in-aid of Research, l985

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, l983-l984

Social Science Research Council (UK), grant for organizing a collection of essays on British popular politics (The Chartist Experience), l978

American Council of Learned Societies, Grant-in-aid to Recent Recipients of the PhD., 1978

Papers Delivered [2000-present]

“E. P. Thompson, Among the Romantics,” Pacific Coast British Studies Conference, Las Vegas, Mar. 2015

“Writing from Newgate, 1795: William Winterbotham and the Example of America,” Dyason Lecture, University of Melbourne, Oct. 2014

“Revisiting Histories of British and Imperial Law,” comment and chair, Northeast Conference of British Studies, Oct. 2014, Lewiston, Maine

“Working-Class Autobiography and the Culture of 19th Century Britain,” comment, North American Conference on British Studies, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 2013

“The American Back Country as Seen from Britain: A Cultural Metaphor,” Ian Dyck Memorial Lecture, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Mar. 2013

“Scandals of Colonial Rule,” invited lecture, Humanities Institute, SUNY, Stony Brook, Oct. 2012; invited lecture, Simon Fraser, Vancouver, Mar. 2013; invited lecture, Murray State University, Murray, KY, Apr. 2013

“50 Years On: The Making of the English Working Class and the Work of E. P. Thompson,” Roundtable, chair, American Historical Association, New Orleans, Jan. 2013

“Reexamining Religion: Toleration and Governance in Britain and Empire,” chair and comment, Denver, Nov, 2011, North American Conference on British Studies

“Archive of the Oppressed,” keynote, Warwick-Vanderbilt workshops, Warwick University, June 2010

“A Gentleman’s Way in the World,” San Diego, American Historical Association, Jan. 2010

Roundtable, Making Empire, chair and comment, Louisville, Nov. 2009, North American Conference on British Studies

“The Colonial Eye and Spirit of Despotism on the Island of Trinidad,” invited lecture, conference on “The British Atlantic in the Age of Revolution and Reaction,” William Andrews Clark Library, Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies, May 2009

“In Search of Free Labor: Trinidad and the Abolition of the British Slave Trade,” “Defining the

British World” conference, Bristol, England, July -07; North American Conference on British Studies, Cincinnati, Oct -08

“Freedom Rules/Colonial Fractures,” conference on “Liberal Subjects: Politics of Social and Cultural History since the 1980s,”invited paper, Manchester University, March -08

“Between Gentlemen and Empire,” American Historical Association, Atlanta, Jan. -07

“The Radical Underground Goes Colonial,” invited paper, Princeton University, Center for the Study of Books and Media, “‘This Persecuted Means’: Radicalism and the Book,” Mar.-06; American Studies Association, Oakland, CA, Oct-06.

“Playing at Revolution: British Jacobin Performance,” keynote, Australian Modern British History Association Conference on “Enlightenment and Reform,” Launceston, Tasmania, Dec -05

“The Politics of Colonial Sensation,” invited lecture, Huntington Library, Nov.-05; York University, UK, Nov. -02; Warwick University, Mar.- 03

Comment, Session on “Imperial Bodies: Sex, Reform, and Transatlantic Modernity,” Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Scripps College, June -05

“Notes on the ‘Linguistic Turn,’”invited paper, “Disciplinary Flashpoints” Symposium, Rice University, Apr., -05

Comment, Session on “Representing Radical Politics in Britain and its Empire,” North American Conference on British Studies, Philadelphia, Oct-04

Comment, Session on “British Popular Culture and Empire,” Southern Conference on British Studies, Memphis, Nov-04

“The Politics of Sympathy: E. P. Thompson and History from Below,” conference on “Extreme and Sentimental History,” invited paper, Vanderbilt University, Apr-04

“Difference of Another Kind: Imagining ‘America,’” invited presentation, National Victorian Studies Association, Indiana University, Oct. -03

“Playing at Revolution,” NASSR, conference on “Placing Romanticism,” New York, Aug. -03

“Re-visioning America: Some 19th Century British Notes,” invited lecture, Rothermere Centre, Oxford University, Mar. -03

“ “From Ritual Practice to Cultural Text,” invited lecture, University of Toronto, Oct. 2000

“Sociability, Reform, and Sedition,” invited paper, Past and Present Conference, St. Anne’s College, Oxford University, July 2000

“Re-imagining ‘Britain:’ America, Anglo-Saxonism, and Empire in the later 19th century,” Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, Santa Barbara, Apr., 2000

“Disloyal Subjects: ‘Jacobin’ Performance in the 1790s,” invited paper, for “Opposition, Dissent, and Revolutionary Sympathies ... 1770-1800,” Clark Library, UCLA Mar -02

“The Colonial Eye,” invited paper for conference on “Surveillance and Spies,” Humanities Research Center, ANU, Canberra, Nov. -01; Association of Caribbean Historians, Nassau, Bahamas, Apr., -02

Graduate Student Supervision

PhD. Dissertation Director: Carolyn Conley (1986, Duke); Charles Ford (1992); Robert Hall (1992); Mark Hampton (1998); David Karr (2002); Joshua Roberts (2005);Thomas Doumaux (2008); Mary Sanderson (2010); Deanna Matheuszik (2013); J’Nese Williams (in progress); Patrick Rosico (in progress)

PhD. Dissertation Committees: Michael Carrafiello (Hist, -87); Deborah Carter (Soc, -88); Sandra Smith (Eng, -89); Kay Ackerman (Hist, -90); Hyun Hee (Soc, -92); Julie Fesmire (Eng,-94); Arnold Schmidt (Eng, -94); Misty Anderson (Eng, -95): William Turner (Hist, -95); Jay Helt

(Hist, -96); Elaine Philips (Eng, -96); Gregg Hecimovich (Eng, -97); Carol Woodfin (Hist, -97); Suzanne Martineau (Pol Sci, -98); Amanda Kinard (Eng,-98); James Whisenant (Div, -98); Carol Manthey (Eng, -99); Marilyn Alison (Eng, -99); Katie McDaniel (Hist, -00); Vicki Hill (Eng,-01); Julie Schuetz Hipp (Eng, -01); Paul Ramsour (Religion, -01); Brett Armstrong (Hist, -01); James Turrell (Hist, -01); Brad Gericke (Hist,-02); Rob Lawson (Hist, -02); Anthony Stanonis (Hist, -02), Mark Barr (Eng, -04), Melanie Holladay (Eng, -06); David Smith (Eng,-07); Jeong-oh Kim (Eng,-07); Lauren Hoffer (Eng, -09); Christina Neckles (Eng, -09);Brian Rejack (Eng, -09); Beau Baca (Eng,. -10); Elizabeth Meadows (Eng, -10); Michael Boden (Hist, -10); Cheryl Hudson (Hist,-11); Erin Garcia-Fernandez (Eng,- 12); Erica Hayden (Hist, - 13); Heather Freeman (Eng, - 13); Ashish Koul (Hist); Kathleen DeGuzman (Eng)
Major Department, College, & University Service

Acting Chair, History Department (2010-11), Chair (2011-14)

College of A&S Committee on Academic Standards and Procedures (2007-08, 1997-98)

College of A&S Senior Advisory Review Committee (2006-07, 2008-09)

Director of Undergraduate Studies, History Department (2006-08)

Director, History Department Honors Program (2006-08)

Director of Graduate Studies, History Department (1991-94, 1996-98,1999-2001)

Faculty Senate (1991-94, 2000-03)

Senate Committee on Non-Academic Affairs (1991-92)

Senate Committee on Professional Ethics & Academic Freedom (1992-94, 2000-02), chair (01-02)

Faculty Council, A&S (1997-99)

Graduate Faculty Delegate Assembly (l987-90, 96-98)

Graduate Faculty Council (1993-96, 2000-01)

Community Affairs Board, (l987-89)

Sub-Committee on Social Science (l989-93)

Committee on European Studies (1992-94, 96-98)

Advisory Committee for the Humanities-in-London Program (1992-94,95-98)

URC sub-committee, grants competition (spring 1993)

Vanderbilt-in-England Committee (1993-94, 95-98)

Appellate Review Board (1993-94)

URC Ad Hoc Evaluation Committee for NEH Summer Stipend Competition (1993, 1995)

Women's Studies Committee (1997-98)

Courses Taught at Vanderbilt

History of Western Civilization, 18th Century to the Present

Historian’s Workshop (history majors required seminar)

Tom Paine and the Age of Revolution (freshman writing seminar)

British Culture in the 1950's: High/Low (college honors seminar)

1960's in Europe and America (capstone undergraduate seminar)

Victorian Britain (upper-level undergraduate)

Victorian Histories and Cultures (interdisciplinary course for English-History majors)

Honors Seminar (thesis writing seminar for history department honors program)

Introduction to Historical Research (graduate seminar)

Studies in Modern British History (graduate seminar, various themes)

Studies in Modern European History (graduate seminar)

Trials and Literature (interdisciplinary graduate seminar)

Dissertation Seminar (graduate)

Dissertation Prospectus Seminar (graduate)

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