I am a historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe who has published primarily on the interaction of politics, culture, and consumption. In my most recent research, I have been especially interested in money. My Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution uses one of the most infamous examples of monetary innovation—the assignats (a currency initially defined by French revolutionaries as “circulating land”)—to write a new history of money and a new history of the French Revolution. It shows that revolutionary radicalization was driven by the ever-widening gap between political ideals and the experience of daily life and restores economics, in the broadest sense, to its rightful place at the heart of the Revolution (and hence of modern politics).
My first book, The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture (also published by Harvard), won two major prizes and has been translated into Japanese, Portuguese, Turkish, and Modern Greek. It asks why and how “eating out” become a leisure activity and uses a broad range of sources (political pamphlets, medical treatises, travelers’ descriptions, plays, and images) to explore restaurants as a new form of semi-private sociability (and semi-public sensitivity) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Deeply committed to archival research, I nonetheless find it crucial to maintain an active interest in cultural and critical theory. The mutual illumination of “theory” and “practice” often informs my teaching, as well, at both undergraduate and graduate level.
I am currently (2016-2017) serving as President of the Bloomington Faculty and Co-Chair of the University Faculty Council. I have directed the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University since 2013 (Acting Director, 2011-2012) and edit its journal, The Workshop. As of January 2017, I will be directing the Liberal Arts + Management Program (LAMP), as well.