Nancy Tomes

Professor (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1978)

Posts by Nancy Tomes

History 532–History/Culture of Consumerism

This course will look at the history of “modern” consumption patterns with particular emphasis on gender identities.  We will look at changing conceptions of “producers” (traditionally represented as  male) and “consumers”(traditionally gendered as female) and explore the ideas (“rational consumption”), practices (shopping), and  institutions (department stores, advertising agencies) that intertwine to create local and national cultures of consumption.    We will also look at forms of resistance and critique, particularly those from feminist and environmental perspectives.   Readings will introduce students to the theoretical and interdisciplinary diversity of this field, along with interesting new examples of historical work on the topic.  Although readings will focus on the period 1880-1960, students interested in other time periods are very welcome.   In addition to a set of common readings, participants will have the chance to do in depth work on their own specific interests.  Course requirements are regular attendance, participation in class discussion, and a review essay and annotated bibliography on a topic of the student’s choosing.    Readings will include Kristin Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920; Susan Strasser, Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash; Lisabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic;  Brent Shannon, The Cut of His Coat: Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain, 1860 –1914, and Sherman Cochran, Chinese Medicine Men: Consumer Culture in China and Southeast Asia.

Emmy nomination for Jenny Anderson

Today the Emmy nominations for News and Documentaries were released, and our own Jennifer Anderson is among the nominees.  She has been nominated under the category, “Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft:  Research,” for her work on the PBS documentary, “Traces of the Trade,” a study of the DeWolfe family’s Northern slave trade.  Jenny writes, “Dredging the dusty files of the Bristol Historical Society was not terribly glamorous at the time, but still what fun to be nominated.”  Congratulations for the nomination, Jenny, and we look forward to watching you walk down the red carpet on September 21st at Lincoln Center.

Message from the Chair

I am privileged to be the current Chair of the History Department at Stony Brook. Our program has achieved remarkable success over the past two decades. Our faculty have compiled an exceptional record of productivity, as measured in article and book publication; moreover, the quality of that work has been exceptional as well, reflected in the strong record of fellowship and grant support. Stony Brook faculty have received awards from virtually every major public and private foundation that supports history, from the National Science Foundation to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center to the Wilson Center. Among the current faculty are four recent recipients of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, a record that even our Ivy League counterparts have to envy.

This record of scholarship has not come at the cost of their teaching. The History Department has a strong culture of teaching excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The department now has almost 700 majors and minors, where it is one of the most popular humanities majors at the university. It also runs a large graduate program, awarding the MA, the MAT and the Ph.D. In the late 1990s, the department radically changed its graduate program to reflect a more comparative, thematic approach to graduate training. We have been in the vanguard of a more transnational approach to history, and our program is now being taken as a model by other universities.

At our last external review, our department was evaluated by a team of distinguished historians, and here’s what they had to say about us:

“Rankings are notoriously subjective, but the “buzz” about Stony Brook among academic historians in the United States is highly positive both in terms of the value and rigor of its graduate training program and the impact of its members’ scholarly work, the two factors that weigh most heavily in such impressionistic evaluations. Its historians have received major national fellowships and other awards that generally go to scholars at top-ranked universities; this record of national and international recognition confirms the widespread recognition of Stony Brook’s history faculty as in the very top tier. There is much to admire in both the program and the graduate student population, most notably the new design of the program which focuses on thematic or topical fields of specialization. Whereas most schools present only national or regional options for major fields, Stony Brook has worked to develop thematic fields based on the expertise and scholarly interests of its faculty and on the evolution of knowledge in the discipline itself.”

The History Department represents an ideal setting for studying history at any level. It is a department known not only for its scholarly achievement but also a strong tradition of collegeality. Our new website reflects those values as well. I hope you enjoy visiting it.

Conferences (2008-09)

Mark your calendars for two major conference being sponsored by the History Department in 2008-2009.

I. “Cosmopolis 18th Century in the Age of Sail”

Stony Brook Manhattan October 23 and October 24, 2008

Schedule, Abstracts, Bios of Main Speakers

II. “The Worlds of Lion Gardiner, c. 1599-1663: Crossings and Boundaries”

Stony Brook, New York, March 20-21, 2009

Conference site, schedule, and other info


Link to the call for papers

Department Colloquium Series (Spring 2007)

All presentations will be held in SBS N303.

Dr. Chris Sellers, “What was Earth Day?”
Thursday, February 9, 2007, 2:20-3:40pm

Dr. Robert Goldenberg, “When did ‘the Jews’ begin to Notice Christianity?”
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 12:50-2:10pm

Dr. April Masten
“The Challenge Dance: Mid-Nineteenth Century Migrations of Afro-Celtic Popular Culture”
Thursday, March 22, 2007, 12:50-2:10pm

Alberto Harambour
Thursday, April 12, 2007, 12:50-2:10pm

Curriculum Vitae
SBS N-323
Research Interests
History of Medicine, Women and Gender, U.S. Cultural History
Scholarly Works
"Medicine and Madison Avenue" (MMA), Duke University, 2002.

The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998). (Winner of the 2002 Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine.)

with Lynn Gamwell, Madness in America: Cultural and Medical Perceptions of Mental Illness before 1914 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995).

The Art of Asylum-keeping: Thomas Story Kirkbride and the Origins of American Psychiatry (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994) reprint edition.