Guest – Joseph Ellis

American history, especially the revolutionary generation, history and biography, presidential history, and the roots of American foreign policy.

Joseph Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke since 1972, is one of the nation’s foremost scholars of American history. He is the author of seven books, including bestsellers American Sphinx, which won the National Book Award (1997); Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation, which received the Pulitzer Prize in history (2000); and His Excellency: George Washington (2004). His most recent book, America Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (Knopf, 2007) is a study of political creativity in the founding era.

Ellis’s commentaries have been featured on CSPAN, CNN, and PBS’s Lehrer News Hour. He has appeared in several documentaries on early America, including “John and Abigail [Adams]” for PBS’s The American Experience and a History Channel documentary on George Washington. His essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, such as The New York Times, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to frequent public lectures throughout the United States, Ellis conducts seminars for federal judges with Professor Gordon Wood of Brown on “The Founders and Original Intent.”

At Mount Holyoke, Ellis’s courses range from the introductory “The American People, 1500-1865” to a seminar on the life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson. His popular colloquium “Back to the Future” challenges students to assess the likely developments in the domestic and foreign policy of the United States over the next century by looking backward at long-term historical trends and at historical patterns that have shaped early nations. He also team teaches a highly popular International Relations course with Vincent Ferraro, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics, that examines American foreign policy since 1898 with topics including the emergence of the United States as a global power, its possible objectives in a post-cold war world, and the special difficulties in implementing a democratic foreign policy.

All speaking requests should be directed to Trinity Ray at the American Program Bureau (800-225-4575 x1614).
He is also author of “’The better angels’ side with Obama:  the candidate’s appeal to a more unified electorate rings historically true.”  LA Times, January 19, 2008    Mount Holyoke historian Joseph Ellis weighs in on how the nation's founders would have viewed Barack Obama's politics of hope in the January 19 LA Times.