Distinguished Lecturers
Brooke L. Blower

Brooke L. Blower

Brooke L. Blower is associate professor of history at Boston University. Her research focuses on modern American politics, culture, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. Her most recent book is Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper (2023), a book about Americans overseas on the eve of and during World War II. Combat GIs dominate the history and memory of the war. But frontline soldiers constituted only a small fraction of the unprecedented millions of Americans stationed on six continents, both in and out of uniform, during the 1940s. This project traces the backstories of a diverse group of noncombatants and their paths into the global conflict in order to offer a panoramic portrait of American wartime engagements. Related articles have appeared in the American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, and the book she co-edited with Mark P. Bradley, The Familiar Made Strange: American Icons and Artifacts after the Transnational Turn (2015). Blower's first book, Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars (2011) won the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the James P. Hanlan Best Book Award from the New England Historical Association. Her publication “From Isolationism to Neutrality: A New Framework for Understanding American Political Culture, 1919-1941” Diplomatic History (April 2014), won the Stuart L. Bernath Article Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).

Blower has received three prizes for her teaching, including the Metcalf Cup and Prize, Boston University’s highest teaching honor. She has also received an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, an NEH Publi Scholars fellowship, and SHAFR’s Stuart L. Bernath Lecture Prize as well as funding from the American Philosophical Society and the Mellon Foundation.

With Sarah Phillips, Blower co-founded Modern American History, a Cambridge University Press journal that covers all aspects of United States history since the 1890s.

NEW IN 2023  : Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper (Oxford University Press)

OAH Lectures by Brooke L. Blower

On February 21, 1943, Pan American Airways’ celebrated seaplane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from New York’s Marine Air Terminal and island-hopped its way across the Atlantic Ocean. Arriving at Lisbon the following evening, it crashed in the Tagus River, killing twenty-four of its thirty-nine passengers and crew. Brooke L. Blower talks about her work reconstructing the backstories of seven worldly Americans aboard that plane—their personal histories, their politics, and how their wartime movements upend common American World War II narratives.

This lecture offers a wide-ranging history of Americans' penchant for building fortified outposts in foreign territories from the colonial era to the present. Tracing the purposes and practices of forts, trading posts, "factories," and military bases-- and peering into the often raucous world of their inhabitants-- it shows how how instrumental Americans abroad have been to the projection of American power as well as U.S. state and empire building.

Using Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous but often misunderstood photograph of a sailor kissing a woman in white, this lecture analyzes the wartime politics of kissing and Times Square's status as a multinational, militarized zone rather than simply the "home front." Drawing on photographs, footage, and eyewitness accounts, it reflects on the widespread sexual assaults that occurred across the nation on V-J Day-- and why they have not been well remembered.

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