Amy S. GreenbergArchives
tags: Top Young Historians
Amy S. Greenberg, 39
Teaching Position: Professor of American History, joint appointment in the Women's Studies program, The Pennsylvania State University (PSU)
Area of Research: The social, cultural, and political history of the United States, 1789-1865; gender history and constructions of masculinity; American territorial expansionism and Manifest Destiny, Latin America and the United States; urban history.
Education: Harvard University Ph.D. History 1995
Major Publications: Greenberg is the author of Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Cause for Alarm: The Volunteer Fire Department in the Nineteenth-Century City (Princeton University Press, 1998) and is currently working on The U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) in American Culture and Memory. Greenberg is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: "Domesticating the Border: Manifest Destiny and the Market in the United States-Mexico Border Region, 1848-1854," in Disrupted Boundaries: Consumption in the United States-Mexico Borderlands, Alexis McCrossen, ed. (Forthcoming from Duke University Press, 2008); "Fayaway and Her Sisters: Gender, Popular Literature, and Manifest Destiny in the Pacific, 1848-1860" in "Whole Oceans Away": Melville and the Pacific, Jill Barnum, Wyn Kelley and Christopher Sten, eds. (Kent State University Press, 2007); "Pirates, Patriots, and Public Meetings: Antebellum Expansionism and Urban Culture." Journal of Urban History 31 (July 2005): 634-650. "The Origins of the American Municipal Fire Department: Nineteenth-Century Change from an International Perspective," in Municipal Services and Employees in the Modern City: New Historic Approaches, Michèle Dagenais, Irene Maver, and Pierre-Yves Saunier, eds. (Ashgate Press, 2003), 47-65.
Awards: Greenberg is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
The Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1999. University award given to top instructors of undergraduates in the Pennsylvania State University System;
The Kent Forster Memorial Award for Excellence in Research and teaching, 1998, awarded by the Penn State History Department to an outstanding junior faculty member;
Junior Faculty Semester Research Leave, Fall 1998, awarded by the Dean of Liberal Arts;
Derek Bok Center Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Fall 1991, Spring 1992, Fall 1992, Harvard University awards based on student evaluations of teaching performance;
Gilder Lehrman fellowship at the New-York Historical Society, June 2005;
Archibald Hanna, Jr. Fellow, the Beinecke Library, Yale, May, 2003;
Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellow, the Huntington Library, July - August, 2002;
W. M. Keck Foundation Fellow, the Huntington Library, May, 2000;
Institute for Arts and Humanistic Studies, Research Grant, 1999, Penn State University;
Global Fund Grant for International Conference Travel, 1998, Penn State University;
Office of Research and Graduate Studies Faculty Support Grants for Research, Spring 1996, Spring 1997;
Eliot Fellowship for Dissertation Completion, 1995, awarded by Harvard University for exceptional dissertation progress;
Mellon Foundation, Graduate Society Fellowship finishing year dissertation grant, 1994-1995.
Formerly Acting Director, Richards Civil War Era Center, PSU, 2005-2006, Visiting Scholar, Department of History, University of California at Berkeley, Fall 2002, and Co-Director, Program in American Studies, PSU, 1998-2000.
Although in the abstract I agree with the premise that all writing is autobiographical, years of deep thought haven't yet allowed me to make the link in the case of my own work. I seem to be drawn, in my historical writing, to violent young men with serious problems with authority and/or borderline sociopathic tendencies. Urban volunteer firemen who regularly get into street battles with gang members and other firemen, filibusters and their supporters who attempt to invade neighboring countries for fun and profit, Gold Rush travelers who raise the American flag in Panama in the 1850s, and now Mexican-American War soldiers. Not only do I not see myself in them, I wouldn't even like to have them over for dinner (except to mine them for research purposes, of course).
While my work has focused on the evolution of masculine norms in antebellum America, it wasn't my original intent to study gender. After my dissertation adviser died four months into my first year of graduate school, I stumbled through classes and comps, less focused on history than on my outsider status as a Southern Californian at Harvard, unable to accept the reality that winter boots, tights, and heavy overcoats were not optional in January. I started looking at urban volunteer firemen, a group of rowdy men who protected antebellum America's cities from the constant threat of fire without pay, after reading an account of their working-class republican ethos. I must admit I was attracted to a group that proudly proclaimed their own social norms and found a way to command respect from the emerging middle class whose property their protected. After compiling a database of firemen and their occupations (like a good social historian), I was, I admit, shocked and dismayed to find that a substantial portion of these "working-class" firemen were actually merchants and clerks. This was when I began to play around with the idea that what bound these men together was not working-class ideology, but some vision of manhood that was, in its own way, equally radical and deviant and important to those who proclaimed it.
A number of San Francisco volunteer firemen left their firehouses in the 1850s to follow the adventurer William Walker, first to Sonora Mexico, and then to Nicaragua, so I followed them into the filibustering project. I found the same celebration of martial masculinity in the ports of Central America and at urban public meetings in support of filibusters like Walker and Narciso Lopez (who repeatedly tried to take over Cuba). Most of the filibusters got their initial taste for imperial adventuring in Mexico in 1847, so now I find myself in their company once again, reading letters from somewhat under-socialized men who have an investment in the physical domination of those they consider their inferiors. I find my undergraduates have less of a problem understanding these guys than I might have imagined before entering the world of Big Ten football.
By Amy S. Greenberg
About Amy S. Greenberg
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