I am a cultural historian of the twentieth-century United States, with research interests that span a variety of subfields, including the histories of consumption, family and childhood, business, gender, and food and alcohol. One unifying thread in all my research is the broad question of how new markets are created, challenged, and legitimized. My book, Raising Consumers: Children and the American Mass Market in the Early Twentieth Century (2004), examines how the alternately competing and complementary agendas of advertisers, parents, child experts, educators, and children themselves shaped and defined a distinctive children’s consumer culture in the early twentieth century. My new project—a comparative study of vintners, brewers, and distillers—examines how alcohol producers, advertisers, popular media, tastemakers, and consumers forged distinctive (and sometimes antagonistic) cultures of drink in the four decades following Prohibition’s repeal in 1933. Alcohol may seem far afield from children’s consumer culture, but both represent morally ambiguous markets that test social and cultural boundaries and continually face challenges to their legitimacy.
Research and Teaching Interests:
- United States History, Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
- Consumer Culture
- History of Food and Alcohol
- Gender History
- History of Families and Childhood
- Oral History
Fashioning New Cultures of Drink: Alcohol’s Quest for Legitimacy after Prohibition (book project)
- “Will It Be Wine or Cocktails? The Quest to Build a Mass Market for California Wine after Prohibition” Enterprise and Society 18 (June 2017): 360-399.
- “Navigating the Boundaries of Respectability and Desire: Seagram’s Advertising and the Muddled Meanings of Moderation after Repeal”
Social History of Alcohol and Drugs: An Interdisciplinary Journal 26 (Summer 2012)
- “Beer Goes to War: The Politics of Beer Promotion and Production in the Second World War”
Food, Culture, and Society 12 (September 2009): 275-312.
- Children and Consumer Culture in American Society: Historical Essays and Documents (edited book)
Praeger Publishers, 2008. Contributed chapters on “Advertising, Mass Merchandising, and the Creation of Children’s Consumer Culture,” and “Parents and Children in the Consumer Household.”
- Raising Consumers: Children and the American Mass Market in the Early Twentieth Century
Columbia University Press, 2004; paperback issued 2005.
- “Manly Boys and Enterprising Dreamers: Business Ideology and the Construction of the Boy Consumer, 1910-1930”
Enterprise and Society 2 (June 2001): 225-258.
- “Revitalizing the American Home: Children’s Leisure and the Revaluation of Play, 1920-1940”
Journal of Social History 30 (Spring 1997): 581-596.
- History 17B: The American People: Sectional Crisis through Progressivism
- History 175A: American Cultural History
- History 175B: American Cultural History
- History 175D: History of American Families and Children
- History 193F: Food in World History
- History 175R: Research Seminar in in American Consumer Culture
- History 197DR: Directed Readings
Recent Topics: Food in American History; Prohibition and Its Legacies; History of Drugs and Alcohol. Intensive reading seminar, with 12-15-page research paper.
- History 201AM: Advanced Historical Literature (American)
Recent topics: Consumer Culture, Cultural Approaches to the History of Capitalism, History of American Families
- History 275A/275B: Research Seminar in American Cultural History
Honors and Professional Activities:
- Participant, Food and the Body Multicampus Research Program
- Member, Board of Trustees, BHC, 2008-2011
- Associate Editor, Enterprise and Society, 2007-2011
- Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians, 2004-2011
- Reviews Editor, The Public Historian, 2004-2006