Sarah Knott

Associate Professor, Department of History

Research Fellow, Kinsey Institute

Affiliate Faculty, Gender Studies

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a British-born feminist, writer and historian. My first book explored how sensibility, a way of being that celebrated human sympathy, was central to the American Revolution. Sensibility and the American Revolution suggested that revolutionaries sought the transformation of citizens and society, as much as to create new republican forms of government.

My underlying curiosity in how we experience change, how we feel our way through events, unfolds through two fields of research. Witnessing the Age of Revolutions, 1776-1804 explores first-person narratives of events in the United States, France and Saint Domingue, as a means of telling the cultural history of the Age of Revolutions.

The other research is more intimate in nature and more innovative in method. Mother Is a Verb is a history of childbearing in Britain and North American since the seventeenth century: based on anecdote - what can be drawn out from the shards and fragments of the archives - and composed in the form of a first-person essay.

I have a particular interest in the craft of historical writing. I have served as both Associate and Acting Editor of the American Historical Review, the American historical profession’s flagship journal. In 2013, I was elected to the Editorial Board of the UK’s Past and Present.

Honors and Awards

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
  • Research Fellowship, University of London, "Feminism and Enlightenment: A Comparative History" Project
  • Junior Research Fellowship, Oxford University
  • Indiana University Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
  • Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award

Research Interests

  • Early America and Atlantic World
  • Women, gender, maternity
  • Age of Revolutions
  • History and life writing


  • D. Phil., University of Oxford, 1999

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to the Study of History
  • The Age of Revolutions
  • The Atlantic World, 1400-1800
  • Revolutionary America
  • History of Maternity
  • History of Birth



Mother Is A Verb: An Unconventional History (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2019)

Sensibility and the American Revolution (Omohundro Institute, University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

Women, Gender and Enlightenment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)


"Narrating the Age of Revolutions", William and Mary Quarterly 73 (2016)

“Female Liberty? Sentimental Gallantry, Republican Womanhood, and Rights Feminism in the Age of Revolutions”, William and Mary Quarterly 71 (2014)

“The Patient’s Case: Sentimental Empiricism and Knowledge in the Early Republic”, William and Mary Quarterly 67 (2010)

“Sensibility and the American War for Independence”, American Historical Review 109 (2004)