Dr Andrew Heath
ContactLecturer in American History
19th century US history; urban history
+44 (0)114 22 22575
Jessop West room 2.08
Office Hours: Wednesday 11am-12pm; Thursday 11am-12pm
Andrew Heath joined the History Department in 2008. After growing up on the outskirts of Bristol, he read History from 1997 to 2001 at University College London, before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Bristol University.
Andrew's research interests lie primarily in the political, urban, and social history of the Nineteenth-Century United States. His thesis, which won the 2008 Urban History Association Prize for the best dissertation in Urban History, explores how imperial expansion, national consolidation, and economic development shaped the reconstruction of Philadelphia in the decades either side of the Civil War as citizens vied to make their city the main node between Europe and Asia: the London and Paris of America. He has also written on transatlantic working-class radicalism and monarchists in the Reconstruction-era U.S.
Andrew won the Student Union Academic Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and a Senate Award for Early Career teaching in 2013. Alongside running modules on nineteenth-century U.S. history, he lectures on Paths from Antiquity to Modernity and Cities.
At the moment I am finishing a book on the growth of Philadelphia between 1837 and 1877. In Union There is Strength explores the social and spatial reconstruction of an American city in the decades on either side of the American Civil War. The manuscript follows the urban fortunes of Philadelphia over the course of forty years as industrialization, immigration, and natural increase turned a Jacksonian-era port of around 200,000 people into a Gilded Age metropolis with a population nearing a million. In years of unprecedented growth, citizens confronted what one contemporary called ‘the question of building the city of the nineteenth century’: how to harness the energy that capitalism had unleashed. Could Philadelphians turn their city, they wondered, into the London and Paris of America, an imperial metropolis distinguished by economic dynamism and urban refinement? Or would their urban civilization be consumed, as a diarist put it in 1844, ‘by the irruption of the dark masses of ignorance & brutality which lie beneath it’? In setting out to answer these questions, Philadelphians experimented with new ways to see, design, and govern their metropolis, which in themselves led to conflict. Their struggles over what their city was and what it ought to be helped to create a distinctively American urban form – ‘a city of homes’ – yet that type was moulded by influences and aspirations that went far beyond the boundaries of the U.S.
My interests lie primarily in the political, social, and spatial history of the American city. I am fascinated by the relationship between how cities are imagined, built, and fought over and the national and international forces that shape them. I use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software extensively in my work on Philadelphia.
If my book charts the struggle for power over space, though, my next project examines power through time. The Empire is Peace draws on an almost unnoticed source: a short-lived but wildly-popular newspaper from post-Civil War New York that proposed replacing the republic with a polity somewhere between the constitutional monarchy of Victorian Britain and the highly-centralised state of Bonapartist France. I am using this weekly journal as a lens onto debates about the relationship of democracy and modernity in an age in which ‘modern kingship’, as one writer put it, seemed to offer a firmer foundation for national consolidation than popular sovereignty. My research here considers the dissenting Americans who wondered whether a crowned head – and not the republic – lay at the End of History. The first article from this research will appear in Civil War History in June 2014, and I am hoping to turn the project into a short book, exploring monarchy as one of the less likely ‘Atlantic Crossings’ in an era of liberal reform.
I have also begun to make a little progress on a longer-term project examining through transnational and comparative perspectives the response to deindustrialization in two steel cities: Sheffield and Pittsburgh. The project will built outwards from institutions like unions, universities, trade associations, and community groups; spaces such as streets, housing developments, and civic plazas; and practices like city planning and civic boosterism.
I am interested in digital history initiatives and helped to set up the American History Research Wiki to collect links to and critical appraisals of the hundreds of free online digital archive collections exploring aspects of the American past.
I am happy to supervise students working on urban history or the political and social history of the nineteenth-century United States. I also teach and supervise on our MA in American History.
Current research students
Annabelle Grenville-Mathers - Representations of Presidential Power during the Reconstruction Era.
Hilary Hall (Fraser) - The History, Development and Cultural Impact of Libraries in the North Riding of Yorkshire 1775-1914.
Chris Olewicz - Constructing Leviathan: Studies on the Left and the Rise of Corporate Liberalism 1959-1979.
Charlie Thompson - 'Imperialism in Power’: Centralization and its Discontents in America, 1848-1865.
Thom Keep - Harcourt A. Morgan's Common Mooring.
‘“Let the Empire Come”: Imperialism and Its Critics in the Reconstruction South’, Civil War History 60 (forthcoming, June 2014).
‘“Every Man His Own Landlord”: Working-class Suburban Speculation and the Antebellum Republican City’, Journal of Urban History 38 (November 2012), 1003-20.
‘“The Producers on the One Side, and the Capitalists on the Other”: Labor Reform, Slavery, and the Career of a Transatlantic Radical, 1838-1873’, American Nineteenth-Century History 13 (Summer 2012), 1-29.
‘The Public Interest of the Private City: The Pennsylvania Railroad, Urban Space, and Philadelphia’s Economic Elite, 1846-1877’, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 79 (Spring 2012), 177-208.
‘Small Men, Best Men, and the Big City: Reconstructing Political Culture in Antebellum Philadelphia’, in Adam I. P. Smith and Daniel Peart (eds.), Practicing Democracy: Popular Politics in the United States from The Constitution to the Civil War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, forthcoming, 2014).
‘In Union There is Strength”: City-Building and Nation-Building in Civil War-Era Philadelphia, 1844-1865’, in Iwan Morgan (ed.), Reconfiguring the Union: Civil War Transformations (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), 101-24.
‘Consolidation Act of 1854’, in Howard Gillette, Charlene Mires, Randall Miller, and Gary Nash (eds.), Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (Online 2013; Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming).
‘Philadelphia 1828-1854, 1854-1876, and 1876-1896’, in Richard Dilworth (ed.), Cities in American Political History (Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 2011), 163-9, 222-7, and 298-304.
‘Labor and Unions’, in Christopher Bates (ed.), The Early Republic and Antebellum America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History, Volume 1 (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2010).
‘Virtual Roundtable on an Absence of Empire: American Urban History and the Incorporation of Imperialism’, NeoAmericanist (2010)
Book reviews for American Nineteenth-Century History, Gender and History, Journal of American Studies, Law and Policy Review, Urban History.
Liner notes for The Payroll Union album ‘The Mule and the Elephant’.
Module Leader - Paths from Antiquity to Modernity, HST112
Taking you from the height of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this module is an introduction to the dominant narrative of History, from a European perspective (though the module ventures widely beyond Europe when appropriate). Each lecture looks at a particular historical ‘turning point’, while the weekly seminar takes a more thematic approach, tackling historical notions such as revolutions, progress, globalisation and renaissance. By the end of the module, you’ll have a sense of the broad sweep of History, fascinating in itself but particularly useful for single and dual honours students as preparation for more detailed study at Levels II and III. You will also have an appreciation of the importance of periodisation (how historians divide up time), and the problematic concept of modernity. This module is explicitly intended to aid with the transition to the study of History at University.
Module Leader - The Origins of the American Civil War, 1787-1861, HST217
Between 1861 and 1865, at least 600,000 Americans died in a war that concluded in victory for the Union over the breakaway states of the Southern Confederacy and the emancipation of four million slaves. How that struggle came about has proved one of the most enduring and controversial questions in U.S. History. This course, beginning in the revolutionary era but focusing largely on the period between 1846 and 1861, will examine how a young, robustly democratic nation imploded. We will ask whether the persistence of slavery in the South created a section at odds with the `free labor´ society of the North; to what extent the Union´s imperial expansion in the age of `Manifest Destiny´ generated problems the political system could not resolve; and if blame for the conflict can be apportioned to a generation of political `blunderers´ in the 1850s. Beyond exploring these key debates we will also look more broadly at the political, social, and cultural landscape of antebellum America, considering the part played by female abolitionists, African-American slaves, and working-class politicians in the coming of the Civil War alongside more familiar figures like John Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Abraham Lincoln.
Module Leader - Slavery and Abolition in the United States, HST237
This module explores slavery and its critics in the United States. Focusing mostly on antebellum America – the three decades before the Civil War – we will move from the daily struggles over life and labour on the plantation to the place of slavery in national politics and international trade. Students will explore the character of the slave community, the relationship between master and slave, and debates over the rights and wrongs of the ‘Peculiar Institution’.
This module will introduce students to the history and historiography of U.S. slavery. Students will be encouraged to understand the mentality of both defenders and critics of slavery, while also considering social and political dynamics of the ‘peculiar institution’. Particular attention will be paid to a series of historiographical debates over the distinctive nature of U.S. slavery and its role in national and international political and economic development. Slavery provides a particularly rich literature in terms of both primary and secondary sources, and by the end of the module, students will have explored the subject from the perspectives of social, political, cultural, gender, and transnational history, while also interrogating key concepts like abolitionism, paternalism, race, and capitalism. In this regard, the class will build on HST202 – Historians and History, which students will have taken in semester 1 of their second year, as well as HST118 – American History. The 2,500 word essay and two hour written exam offers an opportunity for students to develop writing skills, while the seminars will focus on critical reading of sources and historians, and may use individual or group presentations and student-led elements.
Module Leader - Reconstructing America, 1863-1877, HST3105/3106
Reconstruction – the years in which the defeated South was occupied by Union troops -- has generated intense historical debate on topics ranging from slavery, economic production and race relations to Indian removal, social conflict and the reformation of cities and their people. This module will critically explore old and new approaches to the period while examining an array of primary sources. Through analysing satirical cartoons, congressional investigations into the Ku Klux Klan, and the testimonies of former slaves we will consider why America's experiment with biracial democracy and activist government gave way so quickly to segregation and political retrenchment.
Module Leader - Jacksonian America, 1828-1846, HST696
The period between the 1820s and the 1840s has been labelled the 'era of the common man'. The end of property restrictions on the franchise enfranchised thousands of new voters and spurred the creation of the world´s first mass based political parties. Journeymen and labourers challenged the authority of master and merchant while abolitionists demanded an end to slavery in the South. Yet even as white working-men won the vote, propertied women and African-Americans lost the minimal political rights they enjoyed. This module will ask why, in the midst of an extraordinary wave of democratic reform, was America becoming less equal?
Lecturer - Approaches to the American Past, HST6604
This core module explores key themes in American history from the colonial through to the modern eras, introducing students to important debates in historical scholarship and giving them an awareness not only of the principal historiographical schools but also of the critical interrelationship between historical trends and events and scholarly interpretations of the past. Classes will be organised chronologically and thematically and will be taught through a series of case studies covering topics such as Native American history, consumption, gender, class, slavery, immigration and ethnicity, the New Deal, revisionism and the Cold War, and the New Left.
Along with Dr Charles West, Andrew supervises a student-led oral history project, Witness, which in 2010-11 is exploring life in Sheffield during the 1980s. Any students interested in getting involved are welcome to contact him.
In the Media
Andrew is a regular contributor to the department's History Matters blog.
American Historical Association - Member
British American Nineteenth-Century Historians (BrANCH) - Treasurer
Transatlantic Studies Association - Member
Urban History Association - Member
University Administrative Roles
Mature Students Tutor
Deputy Admissions Tutor