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Professor Gary L Gerstle FBA

Professor Gary L Gerstle, FBA

Paul Mellon Professor of American History

Faculty of History
West Road

Cambridge UK CB3 9EF
Office Phone: +44 1223 3 35309

Biography:

Gary Gerstle arrived in Cambridge in 2014 after a three-decade career in the United States, most recently at Vanderbilt University where he was James G. Stahlman Professor of American History. He is currently Paul Mellon Professor of American History and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. He is a social and political historian of the twentieth century, with substantial interests in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He received his BA from Brown University and his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Historical Society.

Gerstle has received many fellowships, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship, and a Membership at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has served as the Annenberg Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and as Visiting Professor at the Ecoles des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. In 2012-2013, Oxford elected him to the Vyvyan Harmsworth Professorship in American History. He has lectured throughout North America and Europe, and in Brazil, Israel, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. He was elected to the Society of American Historians in 2006 and named a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians in 2007. He has testified before the US Congress on immigration matters and served as an advisor and on-screen commentator for the 2013 Public Broadcasting Service documentary, Latino Americans. He is the creator and presenter of a four-part radio programme, America: Laboratory of Democracy, which will be broadcast on BBC World Service in October 2017. His writings have been translated into Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Subject groups/Research projects

American History:

Departments and Institutes

Sidney Sussex College:
Fellow

Research Interests

Gerstle’s interests are wide-ranging.  He has written extensively about immigration, race, and nationality, with a particular focus on how Americans have constituted (and reconstituted) themselves as a nation and the ways in which immigration and race have disrupted and reinforced that process.  He has also studied the history of American political thought, institutions, and conflicts, and maintains a longstanding interest in questions of class and class formation.  The Organization of American Historians awarded Gerstle’s 2015 book, Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present, the 2016 Ellis W. Hawley Prize for the best book on political economy, politics, or institutions of the US since 1865. A Spanish translation of Liberty and Coercion will be published in November 2017.   In September 2015, a Beyond the New Deal Order conference at the University of California at Santa Barbara assessed the influence of Gerstle’s 1989 coedited book, The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980, on the writing of American political history (a book based on conference papers will be published in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania Press).  In early 2017, Princeton University Press published an expanded edition of Gerstle's award-winning, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century, with a new chapter exploring race and nation in the age of Obama.   Gerstle is currently at work on two projects: 'Spaces of Exception in American History', and 'The Rise and Fall of America's Neoliberal Order'.

Research Supervision

Gerstle is fully-engaged with post-graduate supervision, at both the MPhil and PhD levels.  Recent and current PhD students are working on a wide range of topics including: the ‘inquiring state’ in the early republic; disease and slavery in the antebellum South; drug policy, race, and the state in late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America; Mexicans, Anglos, and violence on the Texas Borderlands during the Mexican Revolution; African American expatriates and Negritude in post-WWII Paris; sexual violence and GIs in WWII Europe; the 1950s roots of the gay liberation movement; the carceral state in Texas, 1945-1975; the folk music revival, 1930s-1960s; electricity, ecology, and public power in the Tennessee Valley, 1930s-1970s; white and black Protestantism and the Civil Rights movement; religious education in post-1960s America; 1960s student radicalism in the American South; community medicine programs and the Great Society; and the strange career of Tory Socialism in post-World War II America.

Prospective Mphil and PhD students seeking Gerstle as a supervisor are encouraged to apply early in Cambridge's annual application cycle.

 

Teaching

For undergraduates, Gerstle lectures and supervises for Paper 24, The United States since 1865.  He also supervises Part II dissertators.

Other Professional Activities

  • Convenor, Cambridge American History Seminar
  • Cambridge Coordinator, Cambridge-Harvard-Oxford Workshop on Inequality
  • UK Coordinator, Boston University-Princeton University-University of Cambridge workshop in American political history
  • Organizer, with Joel Isaac, of States of Exception in American History, a Cambridge Conference (May 2015) on emergency powers and liberal democracy in the United States, past and present, to be published as a book
  • Co-editor, Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America, a book series published by Princeton University Press
  • Editorial Boards, Dissent, Journal of American Ethnic History, Journal of American Studies, Modern American History, and Past and Present (Past board member of the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History)
  • Advisor, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, on Many Voices, One Nation, an exhibit on immigration that opened in 2017  
  • Consultant, for newspapers, magazines, bloggers, museums, and film producers on immigration, race, and politics in the United States  
  • Commentator on politics for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, BBC World Service, Good Morning Britain, New Statesman, The TelegraphDie ZeitThe Nation, Dissent,  and National Public Radio.  My personal webpage, www.garygerstle.com, offers links to most of these programmes, interviews, podcasts, and writings.

Keywords

  • Academic related
  • American History

Key Publications

Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present (Princeton, 2015), winner of the 2016 Hawley Prize; 2016 Editors' Choice, New York Times Book Review; Spanish translation to be published in 2017

Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People (co-authored), Seventh Edition (Cengage, 2015)

Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy, co-edited with Steve Fraser (Harvard, 2005)

American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2001), winner of 2001 Saloutos Prize, best book award given by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.  A expanded edition appeared in 2017, with a new chapter on race and nation in the age of Obama.

E Pluribus Unum? Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation, co-edited with John Mollenkopf (Russell Sage, 2001)

America Transformed: A History of the United States Since 1900, co-authored with Emily Rosenberg and Norman Rosenberg (Harcourt Brace, 1999)

Working-Class Americanism: The Politics of Labor in a Textile City, 1914-1960 (Cambridge, 1989)

The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980, co-edited with Steve Fraser (Princeton, 1989)

 

Select Articles and Book Chapters

Links to many of these articles can be found on my personal webpage: 

http://www.garygerstle.com/

 

 "The Rise and Fall of America's Neoliberal Order," forthcoming in the Proceedings of the Royal Historical Society, 2018

 “The Age of Obama,” a new chapter for an expanded edition of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2017)

 “Foreword,” to Many Voices, One Nation: Material Culture Reflections on Race and Migration to the United States (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2017), book to accompany a National Museum of American History exhibit on immigration opening in 2017

 “The Civil War and Statebuilding: A Reconsideration,” Journal of the Civil War Era, forthcoming 2017

 “The Reach and Limits of the Liberal Consensus,” in Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., The Liberal Consensus Reconsidered: American Politics and Society in the Postwar Era (Florida, 2017)

“Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Nationality,” in Ronald Bayor, ed., Oxford Handbook on American Immigration and Ethnicity (Oxford, 2016), 144-165

"The Contradictory Character of American Nationality: A Historical Perspective," in Nancy Foner and Patrick Simone, eds., Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity: Immigration and Belonging in North America and Western Europe (Russell Sage, 2015), 33-59

“Acquiescence or Transformation? Divergent Paths of Political Incorporation in America,” in Jennifer Hochschild, Michael Jones-Correa, Claudine Gay, and Jennifer Chattopadhyay, eds., Immigrant Political Incorporation: A Handbook (Oxford, 2013), 306-320

“Minorities, Multiculturalism, and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” in Julian Zelizer, ed., The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton, 2010), 252-281

“A State Both Strong and Weak,” American Historical Review 115 (June 2010), 779-85

 “The Resilient Power of the States Across the Long Nineteenth Century: An Inquiry into a Pattern of American Governance,” Desmond King and Lawrence Jacobs, eds., The Unsustainable American State (Oxford, 2009), 61-87

“America’s Encounter with Immigrants,” in Michael Kazin, ed., In Search of Progressive America (Pennsylvania, 2008), 37-53.  Published in Dutch as “Hoe Amerika omgaat met zijn immigranten: Het verleden, het heden en de toekomst,” in Frans Becker, Menno Hurenkamp, and Michael Kazin, eds., Op zoek naar progressief Amerika (Mets and Schilt, 2007), 112-127; and in French as  “L’Amérique rencontre les immigrants: passé, présent, futur,” Cahiers d’histoire 108 (April-June 2009), 95-110      

 “Race and Nation in the Thought and Politics of Woodrow Wilson,” in John Milton Cooper, Jr., ed., Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson: Progressivism, Internationalism, War, and Peace (Woodrow Wilson Center and Johns Hopkins, 2008), 93-124

“Race and Nation in the United States, Cuba, and Mexico, 1880-1940,” in Don H. Doyle and Marco A. Pamplona, eds., Nationalism in the Americas (Georgia, 2006), 272-304; translated into Portuguese as “Raca e nacao nos Estados Unidos, Mexico e Cuba, 1880-1940,” in Nacionalismo no Novo Mundo: a formacao de estados-nacao no seculo XIX  (Editora Record, 2008), 409-450

“In the Shadow of Vietnam: Liberal Nationalism and the Problem of War,” in Michael Kazin and Joseph McCartin, eds., Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (North Carolina, 2006), 128-152; translated into Portuguese as “Na sombra do Vietna: o nacionalismo liberal e o problema da guerra, Tempo 25 (July-December 2008), 47-74

“The Immigrant as Threat to American Security: A Historical Perspective,” in John Tirman, ed., The Maze of Fear: Security and Migration after 9/11 (New Press, 2004), 87-108; translated as “L’immigrant, une menace pour la securité américaine,” in Pietro Causarano, et al., Le XX siècle des guerres (Les Editions de l’Atelier, 2004), 256-272. Revised and updated for Elliott R. Barkan, Hasia Diner, and Alan M. Kraut, eds., From Arrival to Incorporation: Migrants to the U.S. in a Global Era (NYU, 2008), 217-245  

“Diversity, Pluralism, and the War on Terror,” Dissent, 31-38, Spring 2003

“Immigration and Ethnicity in the American Century,” in Harvard Sitkoff, ed., Making Sense of the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 2000), 275-95

“Theodore Roosevelt and the Divided Character of American Nationalism,” Journal of American History 86 (December 1999), 1280-1307.  Anthologized in Bruce Baum and Duchess Harris, eds., Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity (Duke, 2009), 163-95

“Liberty, Coercion, and the Making of Americans,” Journal of American History 84 (September 1997), 524-558.  Anthologized in Charles Hirschman, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind, eds., The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience (Russell Sage, 1999), 275-94.  Translated and reprinted as “Libertad y coaccion en la conformacion de la nacion norte Americana,” in Desarrollo Económico: Revista de Ciencias Sociales  40 (July-September, 2000), 317-48

“Race and the Myth of the Liberal Consensus,” Journal of American History 82 (September 1995), 579-86

“The Protean Character of American Liberalism,” American Historical Review 99 (October 1994), 1043-1073