Richard Bell joined the History Department in 2006. He received his PhD from Harvard University and his BA from the University of Cambridge. He teaches early American history and cultural history. His research interests encompass the histories of print communication and violence prior to the Civil War. He is the author of several journal articles, most recently in the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature and Slavery and Abolition.
Prof. Bell has published two books. The first, a monograph titled We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States, examines the role that discourse regarding self-destruction played in the cultural formation of the early republic. The second work, Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America, a co-edited volume of essays centered on the experience of incarcerated subjects and citizens in early America, is the product of a conference organized at the McNeil Center in April 2009.
Prof. Bell has held research fellowships at more than a dozen libraries and institutes. Since 2006 he has served as the Mellon Fellow in American History at Cambridge University, the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society, a Mayer Fellow at the Huntington Library, a Research Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition and Resistance at Yale University and as a Resident Fellow at the John W Kluge at the Library of Congress. He is currently at work upon a new book-length micro-history. The project is titled 'The Blackest Market: Kidnapping, Slavery and Salvation."
In the History Department, Prof. Bell is one of the conveners of the Washington Area Early American Seminar.