Sarah Knott

Sally M. Reahard Professor, Department of History

Research Fellow, Kinsey Institute of Sex, Gender and Reproduction

Affiliate Faculty, Gender Studies

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

Sarah Knott is Sally M. Reahard Professor of History and a Research Fellow of the Kinsey Institute. She is the author or editor of four books including Mother Is A Verb: An Unconventional History which was published by Farrar Straus and Giroux in New York and Penguin Viking in London and translated into five languages. Research for Sensibility and the American Revolution was awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Omohundro Institute. Her most recent book is Mothering’s Many Labours, co-edited with Emma Griffin. Her essays and commentary have appeared in the William & Mary Quarterly, the American Historical Review and Past & Present, as well as in the Guardian, TLS, LARB, and BBC History Magazine.

Knott is a British-born feminist, writer and historian whose research focuses on the Atlantic world and United States since the seventeenth century. She earned a DPhil and BA from Oxford University and an MA from the University of Pennsylvania as a Thouron Scholar. Her writing and scholarship primarily focus on intersectional histories of gender, subjectivity and experience. She seeks to understand the most intimate and various dimensions of large- and small-scale change. Mother Is A Verb explores what story can be told from the textual shards that remain about experiences of pregnancy, birth and the encounter with an infant. Essays on the age of revolutions seek to understand narratives and the witnessing of revolutionary transformation, or explore what can be done with a historical fragment.

Knott has a particular interest in forms of writing and its craft. She has served as both Associate and Acting Editor of the American Historical Review, the American historical profession’s flagship journal. In 2013, she was elected to the Editorial Board of the UK’s Past & Present. She is a member of the Archival Fragments, Experimental Modes Collective, and cowriting a volume under that title.

Future planned projects include a co-edited volume on care and capitalism in the twentieth century; a cultural history of the Age of Revolutions; a community-university archival project entitled "Lineages of Birth" and the book-length Middle Care with the support of the Kinsey Institute.

Honors and Awards

Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians

College Arts and Humanities Institute, Kinsey Institute Fellowship

Senior Visiting Reserch Fellow, Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University

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

  • Atlantic World and United States
  • Women, gender, maternity, care
  • History and life writing


  • D. Phil., University of Oxford, 1999

Courses Taught

  • American History to 1865
  • Atlantic World, 1400-1800
  • Age of Revolutions
  • History of Birth
  • Reproduction in the Archives
  • Feminist Archives, Feminist Histories
  • Archival Silences, Histories of Gender
  • Care and Social Reproduction



Mothering's Many Labours (ed. with Emma Griffin, Past & Present, 2020)

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 (ed. with Barbara Taylor, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)


"Theorizing and Historicizing Mothering's Many Labours", Past & Present (2020)

"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)