OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Kathleen M. Brown

Portrait of Kathleen M. Brown
Image Credit: University of Pennsylvania

Kathleen M. Brown is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania where she is affiliated with the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality and the program in Africana studies. Her main areas of expertise are colonial America; women, gender and sexuality; North American race and slavery; the Atlantic world; the history of the body and domestic labor; and comparative gender and race history. Her first book, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996), won the American Historical Association's John H. Dunning Prize. Her second book, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (2009), won the OAH Lawrence W. Levine Award and the Society for the History of the Early American Republic Best Book prize. She received a Guggenheim fellowship for her current project, a cultural history of Anglo-American abolition as an early campaign for human rights. Approaching the topic from the perspective of contemporary understandings of the human body's capacity for labor, reproduction, and suffering, she argues that abolitionists strategically expanded the category of the human to embrace enslaved people of African descent but ultimately failed to transcend either gender or nation, inadvertently creating new exclusions for indigenous North Americans and Australians and leaving a circumscribed legacy for human rights in the present day.

OAH Lectures