I am a cultural historian of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain and the British Atlantic world, and I’m especially interested in material and visual culture, print and ephemera, and politics in the early modern period. I received my PhD from Indiana University in 2013, and I was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of the Material Text in the History Department at the University of California, Los Angeles.
I am currently finishing my first book, titled Monarchy, Print Culture and Reverence in Early Modern England: Picturing Royal Subjects (under contract with Routledge). Blending visual analysis with object studies, new approaches to textual materiality, and rigorous archival work, this study asserts that the political endurance and popular appeal of the English monarchy between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the accession of George III in 1760 is in part explained by its sophisticated incorporation within cultures of commerce and print that materialized affective bonds between sovereigns and subjects. In this period, the rapid expansion of the printing press, engraving, and the production of decorative objects disseminated representations of rulers across a wider social scale than ever before. Despite the fractious nature of party politics, the commercial stigma of the press, and the instabilities of partisan meaning that plagued the later Stuart and early Hanoverian public sphere, royalist texts and images facilitated dynamic and flexible cultures of allegiance and provided a shared language of political discussion. They invited interpretation and enchantment, and called self-referential attention to spectators caught in the act of looking, remaking them as subjects of their sovereign’s intimate gaze. Most importantly, prints and pictures were collected, treasured, adorned, exchanged with friends and family, and treated as repositories of domestic memory, national history, and political reverence.
I have started research on a second project on the materiality and mediation of loss in the eighteenth-century Anglo-Atlantic world. This book examines shifts in understandings and representations of lost property and people as a consequence of state and imperial expansion. It questions how print culture mediated anxieties about dispossession and disaster, and in so doing, provides scholars with an important source for recapturing the everyday materiality of a now lost past.
Finally, I have written on gender, the body, and medicine in eighteenth-century London. I’m also finishing an article on the Charleston portrait painter, Jeremiah Theus, and the racial and material politics of imperial British portraiture.
Ph.D. Indiana University Bloomington, 2013
M.A: University of Connecticut, 2006
B.A.: University of Connecticut, 2003
Wake Forest University. Assistant Professor 2014 - Present.
University of California, Los Angeles. Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-2014.
Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. Adjunct Lecturer, 2010-2011.
Indiana University Bloomington. Book Review Editor, Victorian Studies, 2009-2011.
Click here for a complete CV.
- History 102: Europe and the World in the Modern Era
This course explores the history of modern Europe, beginning with the crisis of the seventeenth century through the collapse of communism and the shift toward European political integration in the twenty-first century. Emphasis is placed on cross-cultural interactions and exchanges that were and continue to be essential to European development. We will explore the global connections that enabled technological, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural change—resulting in, for example, the creation of worldwide trade networks, the development of industry, and the spread of ideas about natural rights and democratic revolution. We will also question how these changes coexisted with exploitative systems like slavery, imperialism, class-based inequality, and authoritarianism that resulted in conflict and continue to impact European society. This survey will help you develop the tools of the historian, and students will participate in the process of history writing through the critical analysis of primary and secondary sources.
- History 171 Historical Biography: Women's Revolutionary Biography (8 weeks/1.5 Credits)
Biography is one of the most popular forms of history writing among the general reading public, and it has been especially important in the field of women’s history. But what makes a biography a compelling and reliable history? How is biography different from other types of historical research and writing? We will explore these questions by reading biographies of women who lived through revolutionary change during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in North America, France, and Britain. This was a moment of political revolution, marked by the emergence of natural rights ideology, arguments for national and individual self-determination, and new forms of labor radicalism. But how did revolution and revolutionary ideas impact women in different ways according to their different positions in society, including their nationality, race, and class? How did women understand their own lives and respond to—or directly intervene in—the major political and intellectual debates of the period? Course readings consist of four recent biographies about both notable women and women little remembered by history, including Jane Franklin; the sisters Martha and Maria Jefferson and Harriet Hemings; Rosalie Jullien, a middle-class Parisian woman; and Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley.
- History 173: Historical Films: British Queenship on Film (8 weeks/1.5 Credits)
What kinds of historical thinking and engagement with the past do history films employ and enable? We will consider this question through an examination of history films and television series portraying British queens and queenship from the Tudors until today. Cinematic presentations of queenship have become remarkably popular; at the same time, historic queens have become the renewed focus of serious academic investigation. In this course, we will explore how contemporary and historic portrayals of queens reveal women’s influence in politics and the role of women in public life between the early modern and the modern period. Queens—as exceptional women who negotiated and often breached gendered expectations of their times—have been used to debate wider questions about female power, the exercise of authority, and other forms of political exclusion. We will also explore how queens have been made into symbols of national identity and personal attachment, both during their lifetimes and through later forms of collective remembrance. Finally, our examination of British queens through history films will introduce broader questions about the work of history as a discipline. Should we consider history films to be a legitimate mode of representing, debating, and making sense of the past?
- History 223: The British Isles from 1485-1750
Examines the major themes and events in the history of the British Isles between 1485 and the mid-1750s, during which time England grew from a politically divided and provincial European state into a major imperial power. Includes the establishment of the Tudors and Stuarts; the Protestant Reformation and the beginnings of religious toleration; the Civil War and a “modern” political revolution; the spread of constitutionalism; the growth of trade, urbanization, and empire; the expansion of the state and unification; new patterns of familial and gender organization; and the spread of print and learning. The course will also consider England’s relationship to its neighbors, Scotland and Ireland, and these British Isles within the context of early modern Europe.
- History 327: Power and Profit in Britain
This course examines the people, concepts, and practices behind Britain’s global economic and imperial dominance between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the beginning of the First World War in 1914. Emphasis is placed on the driving ideas that underpinned commercialization, industrialization, and imperial expansion, and we will explore how these large-scale transformations impacted understandings of class, race, and gender. Course readings are drawn from canonical and lesser-known primary source works of political economy. We will also read novels, plays, and poetry, as well as a wide cross-section of historical works on consumer culture, industrial development, class formation, and practices of empire. Major topics include the expansion of the marketplace and the creation of worldwide trade networks; slavery and other forms of unfree labor; the relationship between consumption, morality, and politics; radicalism and the emergence of class; liberalism and socialism; Victorian cities and urban poverty; and the global environmental consequences of industrial imperialism.
- HST 324 Fashion in the Eighteenth Century
What does fashion and consumer culture have to do with politics? This course explores this question by focusing on the role of dress and display during the eighteenth-century age of Atlantic revolution in Britain, America, France, and Haiti. This class adopts a broad definition of fashion to include not only dress, but costumes, styles of personal adornment, manners and social etiquette, consumer objects, decorative possessions, and so on. As we will see, fashion served as a flash point for debating the political, social, and cultural conflicts wrought by commercialization, democratic politics, and imperialism, including ideas about proper gender order, social organization, and political representation. Themes we will examine include the relationship between democracy, political resistance, and distinctions in dress; the construction of political allegiance through symbolic clothing and objects; and the ways in which fashion mediates ideas about morality and gender relations.
- HST 325 English Kings, Queens, and Spectacle
This course is a survey of the ways in which early modern English royal authority was created, legitimized, performed, and challenged through ritual, image, and text. We will adopt a broad and interdisciplinary approach to examine how politics took place across a variety of media forms, including ritual performances, processions, paintings, engravings, books, broadsides, ballads, and newspapers. Topics include: gender and power; court culture; the press and political revolution; popular politics and propaganda; graphic satire; and the commercialization of politics.
- HST 390 Britain and the World
As recent debates surrounding the 2016 Brexit vote make clear, “Britishness” is a contested category of political identity and personal belonging. The concept raises questions about national unity and division, imperial expansion, and the limits of global citizenship. It reminds us that British history and British national identities must be analyzed within the context of the wider world. This research seminar centers on the history of the British Isles and their global interactions between the mid-sixteenth century and the outbreak of the First World War. Themes addressed in the readings include the changing relationship between the various British states (England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) in connection with the expansion of empire; the growth of long-distance trade routes in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and East Indies; the everyday practices of empire and imperialism, whether among agents abroad or subjects at home; the emergence of nationalism and the importance of empire for the British sense of self; and the intersection of various categories of identity (national, imperial, race, gender, class, and so on). The primary goal of our course is to write an article-length, original research paper (approximately 25-30 pages, excluding notes) on a topic related to British history between 1560 and 1914. While as a class we will examine the intersection of nation, nationality, and empire, you are free to write on virtually any topic that concerns the relationship between Britain (including England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) and the rest of the world.
Monographs and Edited Collections
Monarchy, Print Culture, and Reverence in Early Modern England: Picturing Royal Subjects (contracted with Routledge).
Articles and Essays
Koscak, Stephanie. "The 'Royal' Wedding: An Eighteenth-Century Invention?" The 18th-Century Common: A Public Humanities Website (May 2018). Available here.
Koscak, Stephanie. "The Secret History of The Crown," The 18th-Century Common: A Public Humanities Website (January 2018). Available here.
Peer-Reviewed Articles and Essays
Koscak, Stephanie. "Gaming Restoration Politics: Playing Cards, the Penny Post, and Conspiratorial Thinking," Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 (Fall 2018).
Koscak, Stephanie. “Royal Signs and Visual Literacy in Eighteenth-Century London,” Journal of British Studies 55.1 (January 2016): 24-56. Available here.
Koscak, Stephanie. “Morbid Fantasies of the Sexual Marketplace: ‘Lascivious Appetites,’ Luxury, and Lues Venerea in England, 1750-1800,” Michigan Feminist Studies No. 21 (Fall 2007/Winter 2008):85-129. Available here.
Koscak, Stephanie. "Bank of England," "Eric Hobsbawm," and "Great Britain." The Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in World History, ed. Keith Hendrickson (London: Roman & Littlefield, 2015): 63-64; 384-86; 433-35. Available here.
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review." Rev. of Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World," by Zara Anishanslin. Eighteenth-Century Studies 50.3 (Spring 2017).
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review." Rev. of The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World, by Lindsay O’Neill. History: Review of New Books 44.3 (June 2016).
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review. Rev. of British Women’s Life Writing, 1760-1840: Friendship, Community, and Collaboration, by Amy Culley. Journal of British Studies 54.3 (July 2015).
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review." Rev. of Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America, by Wendy Bellion. Eighteenth-Century Studies (45.3, Spring 2012).
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review." Rev. of Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors, by Benjamin H. Irvin. Maryland Historical Magazine (Fall 2012).
Koscak, Stephanie. "Review." Rev. of The Violent Empire: The Birth of an American National Identity, in Maryland Historical Magazine, by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg (Fall 2011).