Welcome! I am an assistant professor of political theory in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
I specialize in the history of early modern political thought and political economy, with a focus on the problems of risk and uncertainty in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British political and economic writing.
My research program is framed by two questions: How should we cope with risk? What are our best alternatives for confronting a future that is, by definition, uncertain, but still likely to contain some kind of peril or profit? Risk is central to our current political and economic condition, and many scholars view it as a purely contemporary concern. My work challenges this view, by urging us to take a longer perspective. In returning to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century source materials, I explore when and how people began to see the world around them in terms of risk, and what this paradigm shift meant for their approaches to political and economic decision-making. My research thus unsettles the conventional wisdom that risk is a new feature of contemporary life. It also re-configures our understanding of early modern thought, by establishing risk as central to it.
My first book, An Age of Risk: Politics and Economy in Early Modern Britain, will be published by Princeton University Press in September 2016. I am currently working on a new book that explores debates about virtuous and deviant labor in eighteenth-century Britain to map the contours of emerging public discourses of risk and blame.
I received my Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 2007, after an MPhil in political thought and intellectual history from Cambridge University, and a BA in political science from Wellesley College. I have also held research fellowships at Brown University's Political Theory Project and the Cornell University Society for the Humanities.