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Seth Cotlar

Professor of History; Sabbatical Leave 2023-2024

Headshot of Seth Cotlar

Contact Information

Salem Campus

Eaton 316
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
503-370-6944 (Fax)


  • B. A. Brown University
  • Ph. D. Northwestern University

Research and Teaching

Professor Cotlar specializes in the history of the United States in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War. His first book - Tom Paine's America: The Rise and Fall of Trans-Atlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic - won the Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He is currently working on a new book project, a cultural history of nostalgia in modernizing America, 1776-1865.

Courses Recently Taught

HIST 131 - The Abolition of Slavery
HIST 131 - The Meaning of Democracy in the Age of the American Founding
HIST 302 - Foundations of American Thought
HIST 309 - History of American Radicalism
HIST 312 - The Early American Republic
HIST 342 - History of American Conservatism
HIST 361 - African-American History, 1619-1865
HIST 367 - The American Revolution
HIST 444 - Seminar on Historiography



"The Power of the Press," Ben Franklin's Word, Podcast, episode 156.

"American Hoarders: Saving History," Back Story Radio, Podcast, episode 0191.

Selected Publications

“Seeing Like an Antiquarian: Popular Nostalgia and the Rise of a Modern Historical Subjectivity,” in Patrick Griffin, ed., Experiencing Empire: Power, People, and Revolution in Early America (Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2017), 212-31.

Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Trans-Atlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011).

“Languages of Democracy in America from the Revolution to the Election of 1800,” in Mark Philp and Joanna Innes, eds., Democracy from Book to Life: Language and Practice in the North Atlantic, 1750-1850 (Under contract with Oxford University Press, scheduled for publication in 2013.)

“Thomas Paine in the Atlantic Historical Imagination,” essay to be included in Peter Onuf and Simon Newman, eds., Tom Paine and the Revolutionary Atlantic (Under contract with University of Virginia Press, scheduled for publication in 2013).

“The View from Mount Vernon versus The People Out of Doors: Context and Conflict in the Ratification Debates” and “Narrative, Interpretation, and the People’s Debate over the Constitution,” contributions to a forum on Pauline Maier, Ratification in the William and Mary Quarterly 69, no. 2 (April 2012): 369-72 and 395-97.

“Property for All: Robert Coram and the American Revolution’s Legacy of Economic Populism,” in Alfred Young, Gary Nash, and Ray Raphael, eds., Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011), 339-55.

"Becoming Modern: Nostalgia reminds us of what we have lost in the wake of progress," Oregon Humanities, (Spring 2009), 15-21.

“Reading the Foreign News, Imagining an American Public Sphere: The Democratic-Republican Societies in Trans-Atlantic Context, 1793-1798.” In Sharon Harris and Mark Kamrath, eds., Periodical Literature in Eighteenth Century America. Knoxville, Tn.: University of Tennessee Press (2004), 307-338.

“The Federalists' Transatlantic Cultural Offensive of 1798 and the Moderation of American Democratic Discourse.” In Jeffrey Pasley, Andrew Robertson, and David Waldstreicher, eds., Beyond the Founders: The New Political History of the Early American Republic. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (2004), 274-299.

“Joseph Gales and the Making of the Jeffersonian Middle Class.” In James Horn, Jan Lewis, and Peter Onuf, eds., The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press (2002), 331-359.

Willamette University

History Department

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6061 voice
503-370-6944 fax