tags: Top Young Historians
Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, University of Virginia, 2007- present
Area of Research: American political, cultural, and intellectual history
Education: Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, History, 2005
Major Publications: Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher. Based on exclusive access to Rand's personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand's unedited letters and journals. Burns is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: "O Libertarian, Where is Thy Sting?" Journal of Policy History, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2007: 453-471; "Liberalism and The Conservative Imagination," in Liberalism for a New Century, Eds. Neil Jumonville and Kevin Mattson (University of California Press, 2007); "In Retrospect: George Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945," Reviews in American History, 32 (September 2004): 447-462; "Godless Capitalism: Ayn Rand and the Conservative Movement," Modern Intellectual History, 1, 3 (November 2004): 1-27. Reprinted in American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in Twentieth Century America, ed. Nelson Lichtenstein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).
Awards: Burns is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2010-2013;
University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Fellowship, 2010-2011;
University of Virginia Bankard Fund for Political Economy, 2010-2011, 2009;
University of Virginia Summer Research Grant, 2009;
University of Virginia Excellence in Diversity Fellow, 2008-2009;
University of Virginia Professors as Writers Fellow, 2008-2009;
Campbell National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 2007-2008;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2007;
James H. Kettner Graduate Prize for best dissertation, 2006, Berkeley History Department;
Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, UC Berkeley. Mentor of prizewinners, 2006 and 2003;
Research Fellow, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 2006;
Grantee, F.A. Hayek Fund for Scholars, Institute for Humane Studies, 2006, 2007;
University of California, Berkeley, History Department Block Grant Fellowship, 2004, 2000;
University of California, Berkeley, Dean's Competitive Fellowship, 2002;
Derek Bok Certificate of Distinction for excellence in teaching, Harvard University, 2000;
Burns has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-Span’s Book TV, NPR's Weekend America, and Here & Now. She has also contributed articles to Harvard Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and several academic journals.
Burns has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the Cato Institute.
Jennifer Burns personal website www.jenniferburns.org
In 2006 I was starting my first job as a lecturer at UC Berkeley when the technology office phoned up and asked if I would like to podcast my course "Introduction to United States History Since 1865." I didn't even have an iPod, but I said "yes" without thinking much about it, thus launching the most unexpected and rewarding aspect of my career as a historian. Six months later, my lectures were up on iTunes and had been downloaded nearly 300,000 times. My inbox was bursting with emails from enthusiastic history students around the world. Accustomed to the private sanctuary of my books and my study, I panicked. It felt as though I had lost some cherished measure of privacy, and I wanted the lectures taken down immediately.
But then I paused and began to reflect on my goals and values as a historian. I had spent years of advanced study gathering knowledge - was this now to be shared only with specialists in my field? I had always believed historians should seek a broader audience, and now I was living that vision. As a Ph.D. student I had benefited from the intellectual vitality and openness of a public university, and my lectures were one small way to further the Berkeley legacy.
Instead of taking the lectures down, I decided to create a website for podcasters and began corresponding regularly with my listeners. Since then, the sense of speaking to a larger audience has shaped and strengthened all of my scholarship. Podcasting helped me craft my first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, so that it appealed to both academics and general readers. Engaging with the public has deepened my commitment to educational equity and convinced me that there need not be a firewall between professional and popular history. I have learned that even from the ivory tower, our profession can still foster and connect with the ongoing human search for meaning, story, and a shared past. Though I may be an accidental podcaster, I have become and hope to remain a deliberate historian.
By Jennifer Burns
Goddess of the Market focuses on Rand's contributions as a political philosopher, for it is here that she has exerted her greatest influence. Rand's Romantic Realism has not changed American literature, nor has Objectivism penetrated far into the philosophy profession. She does however, remain a veritable institution within the American right. Atlas Shrugged is still devoured by eager young conservatives, cited by political candidates, and promoted by corporate tycoons. Critics who dismiss Rand as a shallow thinker appealing only to adolescents miss her significance altogether. For over a half a century Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.
The story of Ayn Rand is also the story of libertarianism, conservatism, Objectivism, and the three schools of thought that intersected more prominently with her life. - Jennifer Burns in "Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right"
About Jennifer Burns
"I loved the material presented in this class, it gave me a clearer perspective of todays world. This is really a worthwhile and interesting class."...
"GREAT course! I learned so much from Professor Burns and she was one of the most effective and efficient lecturers I have had thus far. Her lectures are very easy to follow and she gives a great synopsis of historical events. LOVED this course."
"Listening to Prof. Burns lecture, it's obviously how passionate she is about the subject matter. She's extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter and lectures were neatly organized in an easy-to-follow manner. She did an excellent job of looking at all aspects of events that have (comparatively) occurred so recently so that we could view them in proper historical context."...
"She was an excellent lecturer and I could tell she cared about the students."...
"This was by far my favorite class at UVA."...
"I am a history major, and this was one of the best history classes I have taken here. Professor Burns is an excellent lecturer, the readings were fascinating, and the workload was challenging but manageable."...
"Burns is an AMAZING lecturer; very organized, very lively, very articulate. Overall, extremely effective."...
"Professor Jennifer Burns is wonderful. It would be a huge mistake not to tenure this brilliant, approachable, unbelievably articulate woman. Her classes were always fascinating, and she has an ability to tie everything together. I can't stress enough how much I admire her ability to articulate not only the history, but the circumstances combining that shaped the events we studied. SHE IS AN INCREDIBLE TEACHER. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TENURE HER SO I CAN TAKE MORE OF HER CLASSES! I almost want to give her a round of applause after each class, and I am not exaggerating."...
"Fantastic and well-organized coverage of the material. Readings were well chosen, supplemented the lecture and added depth to the course. Very dynamic professor." -- Undergraduate Student Comments
"Dr. Burns was very willing to allow me to use a topic related to my dissertation for my papers in this class. This was extremely helpful for me. Thanks for your patience and help!"...
"I found Prof. Burns to be an excellent Professor, and am sure she will teach many great courses in the future, and be a real asset to the department." - Great class - got a lot out of it. -- Grad Student Comments
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