Carolyn Eastman, PhD

Associate Professor, early America
(804) 828-0053

I am an historian of early America with special interest in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century histories of political culture, the media, women, and gender. My research often begins with questions about the uses and meanings of early American media—print, oral, and visual cultures—for both producers and consumers of those documents, focusing especially on non-elite readers, listeners, and viewers.

My book, A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2009) examines how ordinary women and men came to understand themselves as “Americans” after the Revolution. By scrutinizing the post-war profusion of print and oral media, from young men’s debating societies to schoolgirls’ elocution to Americans’ fascination with Indian eloquence, A Nation of Speechifiersoffers a geneology of early American identity that integrates politics, manners, gender, and race relations. It received the James Broussard Best First Book prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) in July 2010, and was a finalist for the Best Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

My new research examines the centrality of gender to eighteenth-century Atlantic travel literature and illustration. I pay special attention to the ways that both published and manuscript accounts of travel mixed text and image in constructing ideas about the strange peoples of faraway lands. This project, Learning to See: Gender and the 18th-Century Atlantic World of Print has received funding from the Princeton University Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Huntington Library, and the John Carter Brown Library.