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John Smolenski


  • Ph.D., History, University of Pennsylvania, 2001
  • M.S., Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 1999
  • M.A., History, Yale University, 1995
  • B.A., History, Yale University, 1995 (cum laude with distinction in major)


Professor Smolenski is a historian of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British America and the colonial Atlantic world. His current book, tentatively titled Rethinking Creolization: Culture and Power in the Atlantic World, traces the historiography of creolization as an analytical tool among 20th century scholars and the history of creolization as a cultural process during the early modern colonial period. He has also written about violence, gender, politics, and comparative colonization in the Americas.

Research Focus

Early American history (to 1820), with particular interests in religion, culture, and the history of slavery; History of the Atlantic world (to 1820).

Selected Publications

  • Smolenski, J. (in progress) Rethinking Creolization: Culture and Power in the Atlantic World.
  • Goode M. and Smolenski, J., The Specter of Peace in Histories of Violence. Brill, 2017.
  • Smolenski, J. (2016) “Embodied politics: The Paxton uprising and the gendering of civic culture in Colonial Pennsylvania” (forthcoming in Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Spring 2016).
  • Smolenski, J. (2015) “Murder on the margins: The Paxton Massacre and the Remaking of Sovereignty in Colonial Pennsylvania,” Journal of Early Modern History 19: 513-38.
  • Smolenski, J. (2014) “Violence,” in The New Atlantic History, ed. by D’Maris Coffman and William O’Reilly, 245-63.
  • Smolenski, J. (2010) Friends and Strangers: The Making of a Creole Culture in Colonial Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Smolenski, J., & Humphrey, T. J. (Eds.) (2005) New World Orders: Violence, Sanction, and Authority in the Colonial Americas, University of Pennsylvania Press.


Undergraduate Lectures: History 17A: History of the United States to 1877 History 170A: Colonial America History 170B: Revolutionary America History 181: History of Religion in the United States to 1890 Undergraduate Seminars: 102K: Religion and Culture in Early America 102K: Law, Culture, and Society in Early America 102K: Biography and Early American History Graduate Seminars: History 201J: Colonial America History 202H: The Americas in Atlantic Context