Literature and History


Literary traditions offer invaluable insight into the human condition and provide a lens for exploring historical, social and philosophical issues related to justice and society. Knowledge of history is a necessary component to critical thinking about today’s world. John Jay College scholars are actively investigating topics in the humanities that enrich our understanding of contemporary conflicts.

Simon Baatz (Department of History) studies the history of science. His most recent book, For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago (HarperCollins, 2008; paperback, 2009) was a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

Blanche Wiesen Cook (Department of History) is a Distinguished Professor who has written extensively on Eleanor Roosevelt. Her work has received the Biography Prize from The Los Angeles Times, and the Lambda Literary Award.

Mary Gibson (Department of History) Mary Gibson’s research focuses on the history of crime and prisons, comparative criminology and corrections, women, and sexuality in modern Italy. Her current work, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a comprehensive history of Italian prisons.

Barbara P. Josiah (Department of History) studies African cultural retentions in transatlantic communities focusing on financial accumulations as well as global migration related to gold, diamond, and bauxite mining.

Allison Kavey (Department of History) studies early modern history of natural philosophy, gender, and sexuality and is the author of Books of Secrets: Popular Natural Philosophy in England, 1550-1600.

Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa (Department of African American Studies) is a scholar of 19th century African American history, with a particular emphasis on migration and the African diaspora. His most recent book, Black Resistance to the Ku Klux Klan in the Wake of the Civil War, was published by McFarland in 2006.

Alexander Long (Department of English) is a widely published poet and literary biographer. He has written on the life and works of the writers Larry Levis, Philip Levine, William Matthews and William Stafford.

John T. Matteson (Department of English) is a widely published scholar whose recent book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father received the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Lives of Margaret Fuller.

Gerald Markowitz (Department of History) studies the history of public health in the 20th century, focusing on environmental health and occupational health and safety. He is currently the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, supporting his work on a history of the public health response to discoveries about the adverse developmental effects of lead and lead paint, from 1970-2000.

Sara McDougall (Department of History) a specialist in late-medieval French history, and is especially interested in the interaction of law, theology, and culture in pre-modern societies.

David Munns (Department of History) studies the history of early modern and modern astronomy; gender and sexuality; history of global ecology and climate change; Peter Pan; global history of science; and oral history.

Hyunhee Park (Department of History) studies China, East Asia, Pre-modern Islamic World, East-West contacts, historical geography and cartography, and the Mongol Empire. She is currently working on a book titled The Delineation of a Coastline: The Growth of Mutual Geographic Knowledge in China and the Islamic World from 750 to 1500.

Michael Pfeifer (Department of History) studies the history of collective violence and criminal justice.  He is the author of The Roots of Justice: Origins of American Lynching.

Gregory “Fritz” Umbach (Department of History) has published widely on a variety of topics in American and Global History, including New York's Chinatown, consumer culture, and police brutality. He is the author of The Last Neighborhood Cops: The Rise and Fall of Community Police in New York's Public Housing (Rutgers University Press, 2009). He has also directed several scholarly archives including Gathered in Time: Utah Quilts and Their Makers: Settlement to 1950; Ground One: Voices from Post-911 Chinatown; and The September 11 Digital Archive both recently accessioned by the Library of Congress as that institution's first major digital acquisitions.

Mike Wallace (Department of History) is a Distinguished Professor who is co-author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, and A New Deal for New York, which examines the future of post-September 11th Gotham in light of its past. He is currently working on the second volume of Gotham: A History of New York City, which will cover the history of New York City from 1898 through the Second World War.