OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Sarah Knott

Portrait of Sarah Knott

Sarah Knott is a British-born historian and writer, an associate professor at Indiana University, and a research fellow of the Kinsey Institute. She is an expert on two main topics. The first topic is the Age of Revolutions. She published Sensibility and the American Revolution as her first book and is now examining the many witness accounts of the American, French and Haitian Revolutions. The second topic is the history of maternity. Mother Is A Verb: An Unconventional History, a memoir and history of pregnancy, birth and the encounter with an infant, was published to wide reviews in 2019. Knott has received fellowships from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation, the Rothermere American Institute and the Oxford Centre for Life Writing. She has written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guardian, and Times Literary Supplement and discussed the history of maternity on BBC radio and television.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

How to tell the history of maternity (pregnancy, birth and the encounter with a child). This lecture explores the meeting ground of memoir and historical writing, and what themes - sleep, interruption - newly emerge from a first person approach.
An exploration of the first person witness accounts that criss-crossed the revolutionary orbit of the late eighteenth century. The lecture accounts for the rise of the witness as a revlutionary figure, as well as the circulation of first person accounts in North America.
We are accustomed to thinking of motherhood as an ideology or an institution, or perhaps mother as an identity or occupation. This lecture explores the many verbs of maternity, to offer a distinctly visceral and intimate history of pregnancy, birth and the encounter with an infant.