Dr Rachel Herrmann

Dr Rachel Herrmann

Lecturer in Modern American History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Email:
herrmannr@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5647
Location:
Room 4.08, John Percival Building, Rhodfa Colum, Caerdydd, CF10 3EU

Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

I specialise in colonial, Revolutionary, and Atlantic history, with particular focus on food and hunger in the Atlantic World. I am interested in the ways that people used hunger to forge alliances and engage in violence, and curious about how hunger’s meanings have changed over time. I'm also interested in landed and riverine/maritime boundaries, and in writing publicly about research and teaching.

I'm originally from Manhattan, and earned my BA at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY and my MA and PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. While completing my PhD, I held fellowships at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and International Security Studies at Yale. Before working at Cardiff, I was a Lecturer in Early Modern American History at the University of Southampton from 2013 to 2017. 

I teach modules on Native American history and the American Revolution, with a focus on cooperation, diplomacy, imperialism, and violence. I am happy to supervise students working on colonial and revolutionary history, Native American history from the sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, and histories of food and hunger.

I currently teach 

HS1754: The American Revolution

HS1889: From Hernando de Soto to the Seven Years’ War: Accommodation, Violence and Networks in Native American History

My book, No Useless Mouth: Hunger and the American Revolution, is under contract with Cornell University Press. In it, I argue that people were not useless mouths; from 1763 to 1815 they refused food, ignored hunger, tried to prevent it, and used it to obtain and retain power. It shows how conflicting British ideas of hungry and non-hungry Native Americans resulted in a distinctive food diplomacy driven by Indian customs; how Americans had to replicate this diplomacy in the eighteenth century before circumscribing food aid to Indians during the 1810s; and how former slaves who migrated out of North America and attempted to prevent hunger in the British Empire became food rioters. During the American Revolution hunger was something to be created or endured; by the late eighteenth century, it was something people tried to prevent. Perceptions of hunger prevention in the Atlantic World changed over time as a result of British and American interactions with Native Americans, enslaved peoples, and free black colonists. This research has won funding from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the David Library of the American Revolution, the Huntington Library, International Security Studies at Yale, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the New York Public Library, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the William L. Clements Library.

My interest in cannibalism—which was a product of the absence of food—grew from a paper I wrote as an undergraduate, which became a Master’s dissertation, which became my first article. In the summer of 2015, a group of scholars gathered at the University of Southampton for a conference I organised, called “Cannibalism in the Early Modern Atlantic,” which was generously funded with a grant from the Wellcome Trust. Selected conference participants’ essays will be published in Cannibalism in the Early Modern Atlantic, a book I am editing for the University of Arkansas Press. Historians, literary theorists, and theatre studies scholars offer new interpretations of cannibalism in British North America, the United Kingdom, the Spanish Caribbean, and Africa. This volume’s contributors take important steps in discussing cannibalism’s implications for the wider Atlantic World, and in some cases, even beyond it. These essays explore cannibalism’s connections to cooperation, histories of food, histories of eating, and histories of hunger.

I remain fascinated by many aspects of food and hunger history, and am beginning a second book project on maritime hunger. In this research I examine hunger on oceans and rivers circa 1607 to 1850, positing that if hunger created similarities among people around the Atlantic, dearth also tied people together and created conflict as they crossed water. This work asks big questions: How were maritime discourses of hunger distinct from landed ones? How did notions about food security change over time? What happened when hungry voyagers disembarked and made contact with indigenous canoe men on the Upper Guinea Coast, in North America, and the Caribbean? How did hunger allow sailors and enslaved Africans to collaborate on the Middle Passage? And how does maritime hunger continue to challenge a narrative of powerful Europeans? Early research on this project has been funded by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, and by the University of Southampton.

As part of this second book project, I am the Principal Investigator (working with my Co-Investigator, Dr Jessica Roney, from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA) on an AHRC Networking Scheme grant, 'Geographies of Power on Land and Water: Space, People, and Borders'. This funding will allow us to put together three linked events investigating how early modern empires, on-the-ground inhabitants, and voyagers defined, defied, and took advantage of Atlantic World borders, be they on land or on water. 

Please click here for my personal website.