John Smolenski Portrait

Position Title
Associate Professor

SSH 3231
Office Hours
Tuesday, 2:00pm-5:00pm


  • 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).


  • Smolenski, J. (in progress) Rethinking Creolization: Culture and Power in the Atlantic World
  • Murphy, A. and Smolenski, J., (eds) The Worlds of William Penn. Rutgers University Press, 2019.
  • Goode M. and Smolenski, J., (eds) The Specter of Peace in Histories of Violence. Brill, 2018.
  • Smolenski, J. (2016) “Embodied politics: The Paxton uprising and the gendering of civic culture in Colonial Pennsylvania," Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 14:377-407.
  • 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
110: History of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800
170A: Colonial America History
170B: Revolutionary America History
181: History of Religion in the United States to 1890
Undergraduate Seminars:
102: Culture and Power in the Colonial Atlantic
102K: Biography and Early American History
Graduate Seminars:
History 201J: Colonial America History
202H: Creole Identities in the Atlantic World


Selected Awards:
Huntington Library Short-Term Fellowship, February 2016
Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, 2010
University of California President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 2008-9
Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Fellowship, Huntington Library, 2003-4