AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
Brian Jeffrey Maxson is an associate professor of history and assistant dean of graduate studies at East Tennessee State University. He lives in Johnson City, Tennessee, and has been a member since 2004.
Twitter Handle: @maxson_brian
Alma maters: PhD, Northwestern University, 2008; MA, Northwestern University, 2003; BA, Michigan State University, 2002
Fields of interest
Europe between 1050 and 1700; within this general period I am particularly interested in Italy during the long 15th century.
When did you first develop an interest in history?
I was exposed to European history for the first time through my brother’s Western civilization textbook. I read his textbook while I was in high school and became fascinated by premodern Europe. In college I met two different professors who specialized in the Italian Renaissance and they cemented my interest in that period.
What projects are you working on currently?
I prefer and work best when I am simultaneously occupied by multiple projects. Much of my research time is currently spent on a co-edited book, Languages of Power, which I will finish over the winter. Next year I will begin work in earnest on a new monograph on premodern political corruption. In addition, I have a handful of book reviews coming due, an article in progress, and an idea for a popular history in the works.
Have your interests changed since graduation? If so, how?
Yes. I was originally fascinated by the Neo-Latin literature produced across Europe during the 14th, 15th, and early 16th centuries. After the publication of my first book, which looked at this body of Neo-Latin literature, my interests have moved more towards transnational connections across Europe, particularly during the 15th century, and political culture more generally.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
I just finished Debra Blumenthal’s recent book on slavery in 15th-century Valencia, which was fascinating and which addresses issues that are, I think, pertinent for historians regardless of their geographical and temporal focus.
What do you value most about the history profession?
The historical profession has provided me with a path to move from a tiny town in rural northern Michigan to a job that has taken me across the United States and Western Europe. Of equal importance my job is such that it is often hard for me to tell when I am working and when I am doing something simply because I like doing it.
Why did you join the AHA?
I was interested in keeping up with developments in the historical profession and enjoyed reading the American Historical Review.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
My fondest memories of AHA meetings are conversations with friends, both old and new.
Other than history, what are you passionate about?
I love following Detroit Tigers’ baseball, reading about archeology and astronomy, and of course spending time with my family. Each evening I listen to audio books while taking my dog on long walks in my quiet neighborhood.