OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Michael Zakim

Portrait of Michael Zakim

Michael Zakim is a member of the history faculty at Tel Aviv University in Israel, specializing in American social and cultural history. His scholarship, informed by cultural, social, political, and business history, tells the story of the modern economy and its rise to sovereign status. He uses an interdisciplinary approach to explain how buying and selling became a dominant form of social intercourse and an equally dominant form of social thought—how, in other words, the "bottom line" became a synonym for the truth. He is the author of Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760–1860 (2003) and the forthcoming "Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made" (2017), which describes the creation of a market society in nineteenth-century America. Both studies explore the material and moral conditions for capital's transformation into capitalism, which brought about a revolution in government, family, work, and the self. Zakim has also edited or coedited collections of essays on the rise of capitalism in the United States such as Capitalism Takes Command: Social Transformation in Nineteenth-Century America (2012) and on the early modern experience of economic crisis, such as Hard Times, a special issue of Common-place (2010). He is also the editor of two special issues of the Israeli historical quarterly, Zmanim, devoted, respectively, to the history of the body and the history of privacy.

OAH Lectures