Jessica Yirush Stern, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Jessica grew up in Northern California. She received her BA from Reed College, in Portland, OR and her MA and PhD for The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Since her days as an undergraduate she has been interested in anthropology, and her first book, The Lives in Objects, applies anthropological theories of economic and gift exchange to the colonial southeast to better understand trade between British colonists and Southeastern Indians (primarily Cherokee and Creek groups).
In her future work, Jessica will continue to examine the interactions between Native Americans and Euro-Americans. She is writing an intellectual biography of Roger Williams, best known for founding the colony of Rhode Island and for being an early proponent of religious toleration. Williams, often considered a voice in the wilderness, was, in fact, deeply involved in a range of early modern debates, which Jessica is able to piece together by translating his shorthand notes. Jessica will analyze how his experiences in the English colonies, and particularly his interactions with New England Native groups, influenced his religious, political, ethnographic, historical, economic, and scientific beliefs. She is also pursuing a project that would allow her to work with individuals in various disciplines to determine the long-term impact of the boarding school system on Native American individuals and communities.
2001, Bachelor of Arts, History, Reed College
2004, Master of Arts, History, The Johns Hopkins University
2007, Ph.D in History, The Johns Hopkins University
Native American History, Early American History, British Atlantic History, Economic History, Cultural History, History of Science
Courses Regularly Taught
The Lives in Objects: Native Americans, British Colonists, and Cultures of Labor and Exchange in the Southeast (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017)
Articles and Essays
“The Economic Philosophies of Indian Trade Regulation Policy in Early South Carolina,” in Bradford Wood and Michelle LeMaster eds. Crisis and Conflict in the Carolinas (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2014).
“Native American Taste: Re-evaluating the Gift-Commodity Debate in the British Colonial Southeast,” Native South 5 (2012): 1-37.
“A Key into The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: Roger Williams, the Pequot War, and the Origins of Toleration in America,” Early American Studies 9.3 (September, 2011): 576-616.
Grants & Special Projects
Molina Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 2017
Reacting Endeavour Challenge Grant, Reacting to the Past Consortium and the Endeavor Foundation, 2017