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Susan Thorne, Associate Professor Emerita

Susan Thorne

My research and teaching interests include the social history of modern Britain, the imperial history of modern Europe, and the ideological intersections of race, crime, and urban poverty in Anglo-American political culture.   Congregational missions and the making of an imperial culture in nineteenth-century England (Stanford, 1999) explored the influence of evangelical missionary organizations on Victorian perceptions of colonized people as well as and in relation to the metropolitan poor.  My research interests have since taken a more domestic turn.  I am working on a local history of a south London parish that figures prominently in the biographical experience and publications of Charles Dickens, perhaps the most influential chronicler of the London poor.  A second project is taking me further afield from my scholarly training and closer to home: my family's history and the genealogy of white supremacy in Clarendon County, SC. 

Contact Info:
Office Location:  224 Classroom Building, 1356 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27705
Office Phone:  (919) 684-3014
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:  http://fds.duke.edu/db/aas/history/faculty/sthorne

Office Hours:

Wednesdays 1- 4 and by welcome appointment

Ph.D.University of Michigan, Ann Arbor1990
M.A.University of Michigan, Ann Arbor1984
B.A.University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill1981

Comparative Colonial Studies
Labor and Working Class History
Politics, Public Life and Governance
African Diaspora
Global Transnational History
European and Russia
Research Interests: Imperial Britain 1750-1950, religion and empire, race and class, literature and history, poverty and poor relief, urban crime

Current projects: "The Dickensian Affect: Reckonings with Reform in Early Victorian Southwark" (mss in progress), "The Dickensian Aspect of The Wire" (article, in progress)

My research agenda is broadly informed by my interest in the influence of  imperialism on the social and political development of the world's first industrial nation.  Congregational missions and the making of an imperial culture in nineteenth-century England (Stanford, 1999), extended my Ph.D dissertation's exploration of missionary influences on Victorian perceptions of the subject populations of the British empire.  My research interests have since taken a more domestic turn, focusing primarily on public policy discussions of the relief of poverty, especially that of children, from the early eighteenth through the middle of the twentieth century.   I am currently working on a book-length study of a south London parish in which the city's most popular chronicler staged the suffering childhoods in which he specialized.  “Dickensian Affects: Reckonings with Reform in Early Victorian Southwark” measures Dickens' contribution to Victorian perceptions of poverty by comparing the experiences embodied in parish boys like Oliver Twist with the personalities and events  recorded in parish records. 

Areas of Interest:

United Kingdom
U. S. South


Charles Dickens • child welfare • Empire • Ideology--History • Imperialism--History • Ireland--History--Famine, 1845-1852 • Ireland--History--Union, 1801 • Literature and history • London • missions • Northern Ireland--History--1968-1998 • political economy • poor laws • poverty • Poverty--History • Racism--History • religion • Social classes in mass media • Social history • Victorian • workhouse • Working class

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

    Postdocs Mentored

    • Robert G Penner (August 25, 2006 - November 13, 2012)  
    Recent Publications   (More Publications)

    1. Thorne, S, Steven S. Maughan. Mighty England Do Good: Culture, Faith, Empire, and World in the Foreign Missions of the Church of England, 1850–1915. Studies in the History of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. 527. $45.00 (paper)., Journal of British Studies, vol. 55 no. 1 (January, 2016), pp. 209-210, Cambridge University Press (CUP) [doi]
    2. S. Thorne, “Steven S. Maughan. Mighty England Do Good: Culture, Faith, Empire, and World in the Foreign Missions of the Church of England, 1850-1915 (Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014)”, Journal of British Studies (2015) (forthcoming 2016?.)
    3. Thorne, S, Capitalism and Slavery Compensation, small axe, vol. 16 no. 1 37 (March, 2012), pp. 154-167, Duke University Press (Book Discussion: Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation: Slave-Ownership, Compensation, and British Society at the End of Slavery.) [154.full.pdf+html], [doi]  [abs]
    4. Thorne, S, Feminism and empire: women activists in imperial Britain, 1790–1865 - By Clare Midgley. London and New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. x + 206. Hardback £70.00, ISBN 978-0-415-25014-6; paperback £19.99, ISBN 978-0-415-25015-3., Journal of Global History, vol. 6 no. 3 (November, 2011), pp. 541-542, Cambridge University Press (CUP), ISSN 1740-0228 [Gateway.cgi], [doi]
    5. Thorne, S, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History. By Frederick Cooper, The European Legacy, vol. 12 no. 2 (April, 2007), pp. 270-270, Taylor and Francis [repository]

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