Steven Pincus

Steven Pincus

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: European and Latin American History

Competition: US & Canada

Yale University

Steve Pincus is Bradford Durfee Professor of History and of Area and International Studies at Yale University, where he has taught since 2005.  He specializes in early modern British, European, and Atlantic history.  He has published widely on issues as diverse as the rise of the coffeehouse, the foreign policy of the Cromwellian protectorate, the nature of mercantilism, and the drama of Thomas Shadwell.  His most recent book, 1688: The First Modern Revolution, won the Morris Forkosch prize from the American Historical Association.  It was listed as a best book for 2009 by the Economist and one of the year’s top ten books by the Wilson Quarterly.  The book has recently been translated into Spanish and will soon be translated into Russian.

Pincus will spend his Guggenheim Fellowship term researching and writing a book-length project investigating the origins of the British Empire from c. 1650 to1784.  In the book Pincus tries to explain why British policies fomented an American Revolution and widespread urban unrest in Britain at the same time that they created a new imperial domain in Bengal.  He shows that these questions cannot be answered without taking seriously the strength, power, and politically contested nature of the British state.  The British Empire was not created in a fit of absence of mind, but rather because of a precociously interventionist state.  The British Empire differed from the Spanish and French empires not because it lacked a state, but rather because it possessed a state that was uniquely responsive to popular politics and unusually committed to colonial development rather than colonial extraction prior to 1760.

Steve Pincus is deeply committed to cross-disciplinary conversations with humanists and social scientists.  To help foster those conversations he helped found, along with Julia Adams, Yale’s new Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences.  Pincus now serves as the Center’s Director.  The Center sponsors weekly workshops, an annual graduate student conference, an annual lecture, and an annual international conference, all of which seek to bring humanists and social scientists into new and fruitful conversations.  Steve Pincus is also currently editor of the interdisciplinary journal Eighteenth-Century Studies.


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