March 19, 2012
By Nike Nivar
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. This new AHA Member Spotlight series is meant to recognize our talented and eclectic membership. Would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight? Contact Nike Nivar for more information.
AHA Member Spotlight
Taylor Stoermer is a historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as well as an invited research scholar at Brown University. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and has been an AHA member since 2005.
1. Alma mater/s: The University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University
2. Fields of interest: My work focuses on the relationship between eighteenth-century British American political cultures, transatlantic political economics, and the American Revolution, with particular attention to Virginia.
3. When did you first develop an interest in history?
I was encouraged by my parents to develop my interest in history from a very early age, particularly through visits to historical sites in and near Baltimore, such as Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, and Valley Forge. Moreover, my family’s personal connection with history, having arrived in the Chesapeake in the seventeenth century, instilled in me a sense of immediacy of that past, which in turn made me dive into the historical literature of early America in an effort to understand their world and the influences on their behavior. That sense has remained with me throughout the development of my career as an academic historian.
4. What projects are you working on currently?
I am currently working on turning my dissertation—“Constitutional Sense, Revolutionary Sensibility: Political Cultures in the Making and Breaking of British Virginia, 1707–1776”—into a book that resituates our understanding of the coming of the American Revolution in Virginia.
5. What books or articles are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Carla Pestana’s Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World, Lauren F. Winner’s A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia, and Douglas Egerton’s Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America.
6. What do you value most about the history profession?
The commitment to fearless inquiry and high standards for scholarship among the people whom I respect most in the profession, such as my mentors Jack Greene and Peter Onuf, along with Jim Horn, Phil Morgan, Frank Cogliano, Pauline Maier, and Perry Gauci. These scholars have influenced me and a new generation of historians, such as Karin Wulf, Max Edelson, Nicolas Cole, Will Pettigrew, Craig Yirush, Molly Warsh, Lawrence Hatter, and Catherine Molineux, to adhere to their rigorous standards and perpetuate their examples by setting high goals of their own, without sacrificing either standards or goals to academic fashion or popular caprice. They also know how to take their work seriously but not themselves. Such scholars are therefore a real credit to the profession in the best tradition of the AHA.
7. Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote?
The 1999 annual meeting in Washington, D.C., was certainly my most memorable. Just when I was considering attending graduate school, Jack Greene graciously agreed to meet with me to discuss my interests and goals. We met in the lobby of the hotel about 11 o’clock in the morning and began to talk. Five hours later we were still there and 11 years later he signed my dissertation as the senior member of my committee.