Wilson, Kathleen 1954–

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Wilson, Kathleen 1954–

PERSONAL:

Born October 4, 1954; married; children: one daughter. Education: University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., 1976; Yale University, M.A., 1979, M.Phil., 1980, Ph.D., 1985.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY. Office—Department of History, Social and Behavioral Sciences Bldg., State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4348. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Yale University, New Haven, CT, instructor, 1981-85; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, lecturer, 1985-89; State University of New York at Stony Brook, professor of history, c. 1990—. Visiting fellow, Australian National University, 2001, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 2005.

MEMBER:

Royal Historical Society.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Whitfield Prize for British history, Royal Historical Society, 1995, and John Ben Snow Award for British studies, North American Conference on British Studies, 1996, both for The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785; Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, 2001; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 2001.

WRITINGS:

The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture, and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1995.

The Island Race: Englishness, Empire, and Gender in the Eighteenth Century, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

(Editor) A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity, and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Women's History: Britain, 1660-1850, edited by Elaine Chalus and Hannah Barker, Routledge (London, England), 2006; Re-Discovering Nelson, edited by David Cannadine, Palgrave (London, England), 2005; Gender and Empire: The Oxford History of the British Empire, edited by Philippa Levine, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004; and A New Imperial History, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004. Author of articles for scholarly journals, including Eighteenth Century Studies, European History Quarterly, Radical History Review, William and Mary Quarterly, and the Journal of British Studies.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kathleen Wilson's first book, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture, and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785, explores how average citizens in the English provinces participated in politics, and how their voices were interpreted by those in power, particularly the Whigs. While many books about British history focus on London, Wilson's argues that the middle classes of cities like Norwich and Newcastle-upon-Tyne profited the most from the rising tides of the eighteenth century and were able to parlay their newfound clout into political influence. They sponsored plays, published political cartoons, and organized festivals of fireworks and ale to enlist the working class to support their positions—usually as a way to gather them into a protest group. By using these techniques, the people were demanding their own power, whether or not they were born into it.

"Kathleen Wilson's book has many merits," wrote David De Giustino in the Australian Journal of Politics and History. "We have on almost every page a quotation—sometimes only a phrase or a word—which reminds us of how lively and how impolitely partisan eighteenth century vocabulary could be." Philip Harling, writing in the Journal of Social History, praised Wilson for "the meticulousness of her research, the general clarity of her prose, and the acuity of her thematic perception. The Sense of the People is a book of the first importance."

Wilson's second book, The Island Race: Englishness, Empire, and Gender in the Eighteenth Century, focuses on how the British fashioned their self-image from their adventures abroad. As a self-professed "island race," they deemed themselves superior to many of the people they colonized, but Wilson claims they were influenced by their colonies more than they realized. Gender and sexuality became key factors in the process of forming the English mindset. Captain Cook, for instance, and his all-male crew were as much a novelty to the Polynesians as the uninhibited island women were to Cook's crew. His exploits influenced the national perception of England enormously, Wilson believes. "Wilson sees in Cook a personification of an old England transforming itself into a Pax Britannica," wrote Albert J. Schmidt in the Journal of Social History. In another example, Teresia Constantia Phillips—known as "the Black Widow"—was a brash English woman who abandoned her refined upbringing, overturned sexual mores, and engaged in multiple affairs in the bawdy theater world of slave-driven Jamaica. Phillips's story shows how women's roles on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean influenced each other. Wilson also examines how the British misunderstood the people of Polynesia, Africa, and the Americas—especially the women. It is a book that "covers a lot of ground," wrote Jonathan Lamb in Albion, and a "powerful and engaging form of writing history," according to E. Foyster in the English Historical Review.

Wilson also edited A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity, and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, a collection of essays written from the perspective of the "new imperial history," a multidisciplinary view that blends literary criticism, anthropology, gender studies, and other methodologies. The new imperial history proposes that influence traveled in both directions across the Atlantic, from the British to the colonies and from the colonies to their colonizers. The time period of the title refers to the "long eighteenth-century," in which Britain solidified its position as a colonial world power. It is a "welcome collection," wrote Laura Tabili in the Historian.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Albion, spring, 2004, Jonathan Lamb, review of The Island Race: Englishness, Empire, and Gender in the Eighteenth Century, p. 145.

American Historical Review, April, 1997, Norma Landau, review of The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture, and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785, p. 454; February, 2004, Mrinalini Sinha, review of The Island Race, pp. 253-254; December, 2005, Eliga H. Gould, review of A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity, and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, p. 1478.

Australian Journal of Politics and History, September, 2001, David De Giustino, review of The Sense of the People, p. 436.

Canadian Journal of History, April, 1997, Nicholas Rogers, review of The Sense of the People, p. 100.

Choice, September, 2003, E.J. Jenkins, review of The Island Race, p. 222.

Economic History Review, May, 1996, P.J. Marshall, review of The Sense of the People, p. 394.

English Historical Review, February, 2004, E. Foyster, review of The Island Race, p. 225.

Historian, spring, 2007, Laura Tabili, review of A New Imperial History, p. 84.

History: Review of New Books, winter, 2005, Wallace Cross, review of A New Imperial History, p. 68.

International History Review, September, 2003, J.C.D. Clark, review of The Island Race, pp. 654-656; March, 2006, J.C.D. Clark, review of A New Imperial History, pp. 159-160.

International Review of Social History, August, 2006, review of A New Imperial History, p. 348.

Journal of British Studies, January, 1998, Philip Harling, review of The Sense of the People, p. 91; January, 2005, Richard Drayton, review of A New Imperial History, p. 187; October, 2005, Maya Jasanoff, review of A New Imperial History, p. 841.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, spring, 1997, D.A. Smith, review of The Sense of the People, p. 678.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1998, Dror Wahrnan, review of The Sense of the People, p. 161.

Journal of Social History, spring, 1997, Philip Harling, review of The Sense of the People, p. 767; summer, 2006, Albert J. Schmidt, review of The Island Race, p. 1197; spring, 2007, Isaac Land, review of The Island Race, p. 731.

Journal of Urban History, May, 1999, Robert B. Shoemaker, review of The Sense of the People, p. 570.

William and Mary Quarterly, January, 2004, Sarah M.S. Pearsall, review of The Island Race, pp. 174-177; October, 2005, Alison Games, review of A New Imperial History, p. 781.

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Wilson, Kathleen 1954–

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