Miller Center

James Sparrow, Fellowship Mentor

Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago


Advisee(s): Brent Cebul   

Sparrow's research and teaching focus on the state and social citizenship in the modern United States. He is especially interested in national political culture and its formation within specific social, cultural, and institutional contexts. His first book,Warfare State, is a history of the social politics of the national state as its foundations shifted from welfare to warfare during World War II. Its central concern is to examine the ways in which different groups of citizens encountered the burgeoning warfare state and in the process accepted, rejected, or otherwise contested the legitimacy of expanding federal authority in everyday life. His second book project, “The New Leviathan,” examines changing notions and practices of sovereignty during the Unites States’ rise to globalism. Blending political and intellectual history with social and cultural methodology, it traces the shifting intersections of international and national, global and local levels of power, to explain the modalities of rule at home and abroad that resulted from a world politics rigidified by bipolar nuclear contention.

Sparrow's teaching commitments and interests include courses on the "new" political history; social movements; war and society; the history of the American state; internationalizing domestic history; consumption; metropolitan America; the interwar period; the New Deal; World War II. 

Sparrow has also done work in the emerging field of history and new media, developing a nascent methodology for using the web and other electronic media to generate "born digital" primary historical materials in a series of grant-funded projects which combine the qualitative and participatory approach of oral history and ethnomethodology with more conventionally archival aspirations to document and preserve primary materials.

Selected Recent Publications

Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

"Behind the Atomic Curtain: School Desegregation and Territoriality in the Early Cold War." Tocqueville Review 33, no. 2 (December 2012): 115–139.

"Freedom to Want: The Federal Government and Politicized Consumption in World War II." In Mobilizing the Movement: Civil Rights and the Second World War. Edited by Kevin Kruse and Stephen Tuck. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

"A Nation in Motion: Norfolk, the Pentagon, and the Nationalization of the Metropolitan South, 1941–1953." In The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism. Edited by Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.


James Sparrow's website.

Categories: Mentors

← Return to Fellowship home