Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
St. Mary's College of Maryland
Website URL
French, European, family, gender, sexuality, politics, the politics of reproduction, the culture of fashion and beauty
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I received my PhD at Johns Hopkins University in January 1993 in French History; my areas of expertise are family history (my first book was the history of a family in eighteenth-century France); gender history (my second book examined maternal societies in nineteenth-century France). My book with Tracy Adams, The Creation of the French Royal Mistress: From Agnès Sorel to Madame Du Barry is due out with Pennsylvania State University press in early 2020. My next project will be a political and cultural history of the Merveilleuses, a group of French women under the Directory (1794-99). I am especially interested in their impact and function in the historical imaginary of scholars of the French Revolution; the fixation on these women’s beauty, style, and sexuality has obscured their political and cultural significance. I plan to highlight how disparagement of women’s sexuality and influence continues to fascinate, but also serves as shorthand for conservative critiques of social and political change.

I also write op-eds on topics that link historical insights with current events, especially with regard to the politics of reproduction, women, and sexuality.

I work at a small liberal arts colleges, and teach a wide range of courses (European history from the Middle Ages to the present),  which allows me to consider past and current events in a broad historical context.

Recent Publications

Opinion pieces (since 2014):

“Will the Judiciary Bow to Trump?” The Baltimore Sun, October 9, 2019 (print edition October 10, 2019),

“Is America Headed towards a Second Revolution?” The Baltimore Sun, July 15, 2019 (print edition July 15, 2019),

“What’s Wrong with the ‘Constitutional Republic’ Defense,” The Baltimore Sun, November 28, 2018 (print edition November 29, 2018),

“What Else Does the GOP Want?” The Baltimore Sun, July 8, 2018 (print edition, July 9, 2018),

“Why President Trump Resembles a Pre-Revolution French Monarch,” The Washington Post, March 22, 2018,

“Tyranny Does Not Arrive in One Fell Swoop,” The Baltimore Sun, September 3, 2017 (print edition, September 4, 2017),

“America Hates Older Women,” The Baltimore Sun, January 11, 2017 (print edition, January 12, 2017),

“Let the Past Inform our Understanding of the Present,” Education Week, December 14, 2015,

“Justice Kennedy’s Misperception of Marriage,” The Baltimore Sun, May 8, 2015 (print edition, May 11, 2015),

“The Supreme Court Has Decided That Women’s Rights Aren’t Human Rights,” Rewire, posted July 2, 2014.


The Creation of the French Royal Mistress, with Tracy Adams (in press, Pennsylvania State University Press)

Co-editor, with Tracy Adams, and contributing author, Female Beauty Systems: Beauty as Social Capital in Western Europe and the United States, Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015)

Poverty, Charity and Motherhood:  Maternal Societies in Nineteenth-Century France (University of Illinois Press, 2010)

A Taste for Comfort and Status: A Bourgeois Family in Eighteenth-Century France (Penn State Press, 2000)

Peer-reviewed articles (since 2014):

“The Gallic Singularity and the Royal Mistress,” for a special edition of French Politics, Culture & Society, in press

“The Cultural Implications of Performance,” Arts and International Affairs 2:1 (Winter 2017): 83-91

“Mistresses and Merveilleuses: The Historiographical Record on Female Political Players of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Medieval Feminist Forum 51:2 (2015): 95-103

“‘Belle comme le jour’:  Beauty, Power, and the King’s Mistress,” French History 29:1 (2015): 1-21

“‘Venus of the Capitol’:  Madame Tallien and the Politics of Beauty Under the Directory,” French Historical Studies, 37: 4 (Fall 2014): 599-629

Media Coverage
See opinion pieces listed above; I write occasional op-eds, especially for the Baltimore Sun.
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Expertise by Chronology
Early Modern, Modern
Expertise by Topic
Family, Gender, Politics, Sexuality, Women