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C.V. Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

Past Fellows

James D. Rice

Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2014-2015

A scholar specializing in early American history with an emphasis on Native America, James Rice has written extensively about landscape and culture in the seventeenth century in the Chesapeake and the Atlantic world. During his fellowship at the Starr Center, he worked on completing a narrative account of the “Powhatan Uprising” of 1622. The author of Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America (Oxford University Press, 2013), Rice has been a scholar in residence at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and a Carson Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. As part of his Washington College residency, Rice taught a spring-semester course titled “Native America, Modern America.”


Richard Francis
Hodson Trust - John Carter Brown Fellow, 2013-2014

Award-winning British author Richard Francis alternates between writing novels and nonfiction.  His work includes  Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia; a biography of Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers; as well as ten novels. While in residency at the Custom House, Francis pursued writing his forthcoming novel on Boston merchant and judge, Samuel Sewall.  He has taught American literature on both sides of the Atlantic, currently at Manchester University and previously as a visiting lecturer at the University of Missouri. 

Daniel Mark Epstein
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2013-2014

Daniel Epstein’s extraordinary literary career has encompassed poetry, drama, and historical nonfiction.  During his residency at Washington College, Epstein drafted portions of his current work-in-progress, “Patriots and Renegades: The War in Ben Franklin’s House”  and taught a seminar entitled, “The Muse of History.”  Epstein’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Republic, and his plays have been performed in regional theater and Off-Broadway.  He has written biographies of Aimee Semple McPherson, Nat King Cole, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Bob Dylan, as well as a book on the Lincolns.

Bearded Ladies Cabaret Company
Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellows, 2014

John JarboeIn January 2013, the Philadelphia based theater company invaded Washington College for a week-long residency—complete with workshops, classes, and a parade—culminating in three free performances of their hit show, “Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret.” Described as a perfect blend of arts and history, the show explores the War’s cultural legacy. As part of the residency, the troupe members taught classes in the drama, history, English literature and music departments.

Neal Gabler
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, Spring 2013

Neal Gabler is one of America’s most accomplished biographers. During his residency at Washington College, he taught a course on “The Art of Biography.” Gabler is an author, cultural historian, screenwriter, producer, film and media critic, and commentator who has been called “one of America’s most important public intellectuals.” He has written prizewinning biographies of Walt Disney, Walter Winchell, and early Hollywood movie moguls and is now at work on a book about the late Senator Edward Kennedy and modern American politics. He is the winner of an Emmy, two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Clay Risen
Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow, 2013
As an editor and writer Clay Risen is connected with many of the country’s most prestigious publications.  Currently editor at The New York Times op-ed section, he was an assistant editor at The New Republic and the founding managing editor of  the noted quarterly Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. His freelance work has appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post. During his fellowship he worked on his most recent book, Bill of the Century, a critical examination of the historic battle to pass the Civil Rights Act. 

Holly Brewer
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, Fall 2012

Holly Brewer was in full-time residence at the Starr Center throughout the fall semester of 2012, working on a book that promises to dramatically reshape our understanding of how slavery took root in America. A prize-winning author and the Burke Chair of American History at the University of Maryland, she has done remarkable research challenging the traditional idea that slavery began here as a product of economic necessity.

Peter Silver
Hodson Trust – John Carter Brown Fellow, 2011-2012

Peter Silver teaches early American history at Rutgers University. He is the author of Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize and Mark Lynton History Prize in 2008.  He devoted his Hodson-Brown Fellowship to the writing of a new book about the eighteenth-century empires of Britain and Spain and their violent collision in the Americas during the 1730s and 1740s.

Alan Taylor 
Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow, 2012

Alan Taylor is a two time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history. A national expert in Colonial America and the early U.S. republic, he worked on his winning book, The Internal Enemy, while in residence in Chestertown. During his two-week fellowship, Taylor combed local archives, worked on his manuscript, presented a public lecture, visited classes, and toured local War of 1812 sites. He currently teaches American history at the University of Virginia.

Peter Manseau
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2011-2012

Peter Manseau is a historian, novelist, journalist and memoirist whose work on religion and society spans a number of genres. During his year at Washington College, he worked to finish a major new narrative history of the United States, told through the prism of the diverse religious traditions that have shaped the nation. One Nation Under Gods: A New American History (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) was recently published to rave reviews.

Lorena S. Walsh 
Hodson Trust – John Carter Brown Fellow, 2010-2011

Historian Lorena Walsh devoted her Hodson-Brown fellowship to work on the second volume of a sweeping history of Chesapeake plantations. Tentatively titled “To Labour for Profit”: Plantation Management in the Revolutionary and Early National Chesapeake, 1764-1820, the project follows up on her 2010 publication, Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Walsh is a 27-year veteran of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Peter H. Wood
Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow 2011

Emeritus Professor of History at Duke University, Wood’s research and writing set the stage for a new generation of scholarship on American slavery. Long term interests in race relations and in American painting led to a collaboration with art historian Karen Dalton on an exhibition and book concerning the artist Winslow Homer’s images of African Americans. During his residency at Washington College, he presented his research on Homer and the Civil War. 

Ned Sublette 
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2010-2011

Historian, musicologist and author Ned Sublette spent his fellowship  working on a groundbreaking history of what he has labeled the “American slave coast:” the mid-Atlantic port cities that supplied a steady flow of laborers to the slave markets of the Deep South. Sublette’s book will be the first to explore this region as an actual slave coast, similar in character and function to the West African coast. While in Chestertown, Sublette gave two public performances and co-taught a course, “Cuba and Its Music,” with Assistant Professor of Music Kenneth Schweitzer.

Sherrilyn Ifell
Frederick Douglass Visiting Scholar, 2010

Noted civil rights attorney  and professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, Ifill is a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights, voting rights, and judicial diversity. She offers commentary on race and the law on CNN, NBC Nightly News, and C-Span, and is a regular op-ed contributor to the Baltimore Sun and the Afro-American. During her week in Chestertown, Ifill met with students and faculty about her experiences with restorative justice processes. She is the author of On the Courthouse Lawn which explores the effects of lynching on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

David O. Stewart 
Hodson Trust – John Carter Brown Fellow, 2009-2010
Historian, author, and constitutional lawyer David O. Stewart was Washington College’s inaugural Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow. Stewart devoted his time at Washington College and the John Carter Brown Library to pursuing his book project on former Vice President Aaron Burr’s trial for conspiracy and treason.

Marla R. Miller 
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2009-2010
During her residency at Washington College, Marla Miller, director of the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, completed a biography of the famed flag-maker Betsy Ross. Published in 2010, Betsy Ross and the Making of America was lauded by the Wall Street Journal as “a gem of a book that gives us Betsy Ross as a complete person, not just a colonial character with a one-sentence claim on our attention.”

Henry Wiencek 
Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, 2008–2009
Historian Henry Wiencek was Washington College’s inaugural Patrick Henry Writing Fellow. Wiencek devoted his year in Chestertown to completing a substantial portion of his book on Thomas Jefferson and his slaves, published in 2012 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. During the spring semester, he taught a popular American Studies course, “The Enigma of Slavery.”

Fredrika Teute
C.V. Starr Center Fellow, 2007–2008
Dr. Fredrika Teute dedicated her fellowship to writing a book on early Washington, D.C. “The Spectacle of Washington” uses the career of the novelist, journalist, and saloniste Margaret Bayard Smith, a little-known figure in the world of Jeffersonian-era politics, to explore residents’ attempts to transform the nation into a political community. Teute is the Editor of Publications at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.