James T. Sparrow

Associate Professor in History and the College
Master, Social Sciences Collegiate Division
PhD 2002 Brown University

Social Sciences Research Building, room 225B – Office
(773) 834-1271 – Office telephone
(773) 702-7550 – Fax

Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 East 59th Street, Mailbox 67
Chicago, IL 60637

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Field Specialties

Modern US political history; political economy; war and society; human rights; America in the world; history of social science

Biography

I am an historian of modern US politics broadly construed, with special interests in the mutual constitution of social categories, democratic publics, and state formation.

My first book, Warfare State, is a history of the social politics of the national state as its foundations shifted from welfare to warfare during World War II. Its central concern is to examine the ways in which different groups of citizens encountered the burgeoning warfare state and in the process accepted, rejected, or otherwise contested the legitimacy of expanding federal authority in everyday life, thereby shaping the horizons of political possibility for decades.

I am currently completing a sequel to Warfare State tentatively titled Sovereign Discipline: The American Extraterritorial State in the Atomic Age. This book examines the mass politics of extraterritorial sovereignty, and the crisis of legitimacy it engendered, from V-E Day to the Cuban Missile Crisis. My third book project is also nearing completion. It is an intellectual history titled New Leviathan: Rethinking Sovereignty and Political Agency after Total War.

Much of this recent work is informed by a long-term collaborative research project on the problem of the democratic state, which has benefitted from two Neubauer Collegium project grants for which I am codirector ("The State as History and Theory" and "The Problem of the Democratic State in US History"), and resulted in the edited collection Boundaries of the State in US History as well as two special issues of the Tocqueville Review.

My teaching interests include both graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of US politics, diplomacy, and war; social engineering; social movements; citizenship; America in the world; the American state; and a set of undergraduate research seminars on the history of the New Deal, the early Cold War, and digital history. I am also committed to teaching in Chicago's distinctive Core Curriculum. It is one of the oldest general education curricula in the United States, engaging foundational works and questions in the humanistic social sciences for decades since the 1930s.

Book

Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

  • Honorable mention, 2012 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians.
  • Review by Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2012).

Edited Volumes & Special Issues

Boundaries of the State in US History, edited by James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer
. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

"Beyond Stateless Democracy," edited by William J. Novak, Stephen W. Sawyer, and James T. Sparrow, special issue, Tocqueville Review 36, no. 1 (2015).

"The History of the French and American States," edited by Stephen W. Sawyer, William J. Novak, and James T. Sparrow, special issue, Tocqueville Review 33, no. 2 (2012).

Articles & Essays

"Democratic States of Un-Exception: Towards a New Genealogy of the American Political," coauthored with William J. Novak and Stephen W. Sawyer. In Many Hands of the State, edited by Kimberly Morgan and Ann Orloff. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in press.

"Rumors of Empire: Tracking the Image of Britain at the Dawn of the American Century." In Boundaries of the State in US History, edited by James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer
. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

"Introduction," coauthored with William J. Novak and Stephen W. Sawyer. In Boundaries of the State in US History, edited by James T. Sparrow, William J. Novak, and Stephen W. Sawyer
. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

"Morgenthau's Dilemma: Rethinking the Democratic Leviathan in the Atomic Age." In "Beyond Stateless Democracy, edited by William J. Novak, Stephen W. Sawyer, and James T. Sparrow, special issue, Tocqueville Review 36, no. 1 (2015).

"Beyond Stateless Democracy," coauthored with William J. Novak and Stephen W. Sawyer, In "Beyond Stateless Democracy, special issue, Tocqueville Review 36, no. 1 (2015).

"Behind the Atomic Curtain: School Desegregation and Territoriality in the Early Cold War." In "The History of the French and American States, edited by Stephen W. Sawyer, William J. Novak, and James T. Sparrow, special edition, Tocqueville Review 33, no. 2 (2012): 115–139.

"Toward a History of the Democratic State," coauthored with William J. Novak and Stephen W. Sawyer. In "The History of the French and American States, special edition, Tocqueville Review 33, no. 2 (2012): 7–18.

"Freedom to Want: The Federal Government and Politicized Consumption in World War II." In Fog of War: The Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement, edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Stephen Tuck. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

"A Nation in Motion: Norfolk, the Pentagon, and the Nationalization of the Metropolitan South, 1941–1953." In The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, edited by Matthew D. Lassiter and Joseph Crespino. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

"'Buying Our Boys Back': The Mass Foundations of Fiscal Citizenship in World War II." Journal of Policy History 20, no. 2 (2008): 263–86.

"Hot War, Cold War: The Structures of Sociological Action, 1940–1955," coauthored with Andrew Abbott. In Sociology in America: The American Sociological Association Centennial History, edited by Craig Calhoun. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.