Miller Center

The History of Capitalism

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The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to provide critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.

Louis Hyman, Julia Ott
January 30, 2015
12:30PM - 2:00PM (EST)

Louis Hyman
Louis Hyman

Julia Ott
Julia Ott

After decades of neglect, the history of capitalism has recently become a central focus of scholarly attention. Prompted in part by the economic crisis, a new generation of historians has explored the role of capitalism in society, probing relationships between financial instruments and institutions and actors ranging from business owners and financiers to workers. The field as a whole emphasizes that no understanding of U.S. history can be complete without rigorous attention to the role of capitalism. On January 30, 2015, the Miller Center’s GREAT ISSUES program will feature two leading historians of capitalism: JULIA OTT, associate professor of history at the New School, and LOUIS HYMAN, assistant professor of history at Cornell University. Ott and Hyman will present a “state of the field” assessment of the history of capitalism, highlighting current and future developments in this emerging area of innovative historical scholarship.


JULIA OTT is an associate professor of history and co-Director of the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at the New School. A former Miller Center National Fellow (2005-06), she is the author of When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investor's Democracy, which chronicles the initial phase of mass investment at the turn of the twentieth century. When Wall Street Met Main Street was the winner of the 2013 Vincent J. DeSantis Prize for the Best Book in the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Ott's research interests include twentieth century American history, financial and business history, political conservatism, consumer culture, and women's and gender history. Ott co-edits the book series "Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism" for Columbia University Press.

LOUIS HYMAN is an assistant professor in the Labor Relations, Law, and History department at Cornell University’s ILR School. He is the author of Borrow: The American Way of Debt and Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink. Previously, Hyman worked for the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. His research interests focus on the history of capitalism in the United States, and he is currently working on a project on the rise of temporary labor in the postwar United States and its effects on the organization of American business. Hyman teaches the MOOC “American Capitalism: A History” through EdX and is the founding editor of the "Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism" book series from Columbia University Press.

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Great Issues: Our Great Issues programming provides scholarly expertise on a wide range of policy issues for the public, the media, and the policy community, with an aim towards increasing public discourse about national and global challenges.

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