School of Humanities and Sciences
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Assistant Professor of History
BioJonathan Gienapp is an assistant professor in the History department. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Principally a scholar of Revolutionary and early republican America, he is particularly interested in the period’s constitutionalism, political culture, and intellectual history. More generally, he is interested in the method and practice of the history of ideas.
His recently-published book, *The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era* (Harvard University Press, 2018), rethinks the conventional story of American constitutional creation by exploring how and why founding-era Americans’ understanding of their Constitution transformed in the earliest years of the document’s existence. More specifically, it investigates how early political debates over the Constitution’s meaning, in transforming the practices through which one could justifiably interpret the document, helped in the process alter how Americans imagined the Constitution and its possibilities. In the process, it considers how these changes created a distinct kind of constitutional culture, the consequences of which endure to this day. It won the 2017 Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press and the 2019 Best Book in American Political Thought Award from the American Political Science Association and was a finalist for the 2019 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. In addition, it was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2019 and a Spectator USA Book of the Year for 2018. It has been reviewed in The Nation, was the subject of a symposium at Balkinization, and was chosen for the 2019 Publius Symposium co-hosted by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and the Stanford Center for Law and History. He wrote about some of the book's central themes in an op-ed for the Boston Globe, and has discussed the book on "New Books in History" and "The Age of Jackson Podcast" as well as in interviews for The Way of Improvement Leads Home and the Harvard University Press Blog.
Gienapp has also written on a range of related topics pertaining to early American constitutionalism and interpretation, early national political culture, originalism and modern constitutional theory, and the study of the history of ideas. He has published articles and essays in the Journal of the Early Republic, The New England Quarterly, the Fordham Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, the Texas Law Review Online, the American University Law Review Forum, Process: A Blog for American History, and an edited volume on neo-nullification and secession in American constitutional culture. He has articles forthcoming in Law and History Review and an edited volume on the early American presidency.
BioWilliam Gow is a San Francisco-based historian, educator, and documentary filmmaker. His research interests include Asian American history, race and visual culture, and the history of California in the Pacific World. His current book project, tentatively entitled "Performing Chinatown: Hollywood, Tourism, and the Making of a Los Angeles Community," examines the social, economic, and political contexts through which representations of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles were produced and consumed during the Chinese exclusion era. The book project draws on oral histories, archival research, and analysis of film and related visual culture.
A proud product of San Francisco’s public school system, William holds an MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA and a PhD in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Prior to entering his doctoral program, William worked for eight years as a high school history teacher in California. He also served as a community historian with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in Los Angeles Chinatown. His documentary More to the Chinese Side (co-directed with Sharon Heijin Lee in 2003) was a finalist for the Golden Reel Award at the Visual Communications Asian American Film Festival in Los Angeles. The video is a first-person examination of his family history, mixed race identity, and Chinese American community. His writing and research have appeared in a variety of publications including Pacific Historical Review, Amerasia Journal, and the CHSSC's Gum Saan Journal.
In 2019, the Western History Association awarded William the Vicki Ruiz Award for Best Journal article on Race in the North American West for his essay, "A Night in Old Chinatown: American Orientalism, China Relief Fundraising, and the 1938 Moon Festival in Los Angeles" published in Pacific Historical Review.