Search Target

Kevin MurphyKevin A. Murphy

Ph.D. History, Binghamton University, 2015
M.A. History, Binghamton University, 2011
B.A. History Education (Magna Cum Lade), Siena College, 2009

U.S. History, 19th century Childhood, Women, Gender, & Sexuality, Race and Latin America



The Young Republic: Childhood in America, 1790-1860

Adviser: Diane Miller Sommerville


Between 1790 and 1860, childhood and children garnered political significance throughout the United States. Middling and middle-class American families, influenced by Enlightenment philosophers like John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau, who conceived of children as naturally innocent blank slates poised to become rational beings through interactions with their environment, placed literary material into the hands of their offspring that combined didactic instruction with entertaining stories in order to prepare boys and girls to become successful and productive adult citizens within the new nation. Prior to 1820, middling families relied primarily on European children's literature, particularly works that were English in origin, to socialize youngsters in the expectations of bourgeois society due to a lack of American-born juvenile authors and lax copyright laws that made reprinting foreign material easy. Beginning with a focus on familial roles and duties within the household, children's writers also urged youngsters to transfer what they learned from novels, short stories, periodicals, and plays from the domestic sphere into the public realm. Children's authors politicized children and childhood through discussions of parenting, presentations of pious, model Christians who demonstrated their faith to readers or inspired the conversion of other literary characters, descriptions of idealized death of boys and girls, tenets of moral education, and the inclusion of youthful converts to the abolition and temperance movements in the early republic and antebellum period and viewed children as essential to ensuring the nation's survival. Juvenile writers, therefore, collapsed supposedly rigid distinctions between the private and public spheres by urging their readers to take the lessons they imparted into the wider world.

Drawing on children's literature, parenting guides, adolescent advice manuals, and family magazines, my dissertation contributes to the history of childhood and to the cultural history of nineteenth century America.

Grants, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Princeton University, Library Research Grant, 2014-2015
  • Binghamton University (SUNY), Dubofsky Award, 2014
  • Binghamton University (SUNY), Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2014
  • Dissertation Year Fellowship, Binghamton University, 2013-2014
  • Teaching Assistantship, 2010-2014

Conferences and Invited Talks

  • Panelist and History Department Ambassador, "New TAs: Responsibilities and Tips from Experienced & Award-Winning TAs" and Breakout Meetings
    for New Graduate Students: Insight and Advice from Ambassadors, New Graduate
    Student and New TA Orientation, The Graduate School, Binghamton University
    (SUNY), August 25, 2015
  • Panelist and Representative for Harpur College Humanities/Social Sciences, Information Session about Graduate School, The Graduate School/Graduate Student Organization/Student Association, Binghamton University (SUNY), March 16, 2015
  • Panelist, "Teaching in a Culturally Diverse Classroom," New Graduate TA Orientation, The Graduate School, Binghamton University (SUNY), August 25, 2014
  • "The Young Republic: Childhood in America, 1790-1865," Lunchtime talk presented at the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts, May 15, 2014
  • Invited Talk, "How to Turn a Capstone into a Ph.D. Dissertation," Siena College, April 11, 2014
  • "'The heart that feels no anxiety for another's misfortunes, is destitute of the very grounds and principles of virtue': Moral Instruction, Children's Literature, and Society, 1790-1819," Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Cultural Association Conference, Atlantic City, New Jersey, November 7-9, 2013
  • Guest Lecturer, Binghamton University (SUNY), "Life and Labor in the Old South: Plantations, Paternalism, and Slavery in the Nineteenth Century," Foundations of America, Fall 2013 (The Old South and the Institution of Slavery)
  • "Constituting Family, Building a Nation: Familial Relationships in Children's Literature of the Early Republic, 1790-1819," Graduate History Conference, Louisiana State University, March 22-23, 2013
  • Guest Lecturer, Binghamton University (SUNY), "Antebellum Moral and Social Reform," Foundations of America, Fall 2012 (Second Great Awakening and the Temperance Movement)
  • "The Prescription of Performance: Familial Representations in Domestic Melodrama, 1820-1861," Graduate History Conference, Syracuse University, March 23, 2012

Courses Taught

Instructor of Record

  • HIST 130A: Modern World History, Spring 2016
  • HIST 280Q: Women in the U.S. to 1874, Fall 2015
  • HIST 104A: Modern American Civilization, Fall 2015
  • HIST 380F: Family and Childhood in American History, Spring 2015
  • HIST 104A: Modern American Civilization, Spring 2015
  • HIST 591: Teaching of College History, Fall 2014
  • HIST 104A: Modern American Civilization, Summer 2014
  • HIST 354: Civil War and Reconstruction, Summer 2013 (online)

Teaching Assistant

  • HIST 280P: Sex in American History, Fall 2013
  • HIST 365: The U.S. in the Depression and World War II, Spring 2013
  • HIST 103A: Foundations of America, Fall 2012
  • HIST 380F: The American West, Spring 2012
  • HIST 103A: Foundations of America, Fall 2011
  • HIST 354: Civil War and Reconstruction, Spring 2011
  • HIST 104A: Modern American Civilization, Fall 2010
  • HIST 103A: Foundations of America, Spring 2010

Last Updated: 8/12/16