Holly Brewer
Burke Chair of American History and Associate Professor

Holly Brewer is a specialist in early American history and the early British empire. She is currently finishing a book that situates the origins of American slavery in the ideas and legal practices associated with the divine rights of kings, tentatively entitled "Inheritable Blood: Slavery & Sovereignty in Early America and the British Empire,' for which she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014. She recently published part of it as "Slavery, Sovereignty and 'Inheritable Blood': Reconsidering John Locke and the Origins of American Slavery" in the American Historical Review (October 2017) and “Slavery-Entangled Philosophy: Does Locke’s Entanglement with Slavery Undermine his Philosophy?” AEON, September 12, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/does-lockes-entanglement-with-slavery-undermine-his-philosophy.

See also her recent book review/forum on Kloppenberg's Towards Democracy.

Her work situates the impact of political ideas in context across England and its American empire. Her first book traced the origin and impact of "democratical" ideas across  the empire by examining debates about who can consent in theory and legal practice: By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority won three national prizes including the 2008 Biennial Book Prize of the Order of the Coif from the American Association of Law Schools, the 2006 J. Willard Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association and the 2006 Cromwell Prize from the American Society for Legal History. She also won three prizes for her article "Entailing Aristocracy in Colonial Virginia" (1997), including the 1998 Clifford Prize for the best article on any aspect of Eighteenth Century Studies and the 2000 Douglass Adair Memorial Award, for the best article published in the William and Mary Quarterly in the past six years. She is also working on a book on the transformation of the common law of domestic relations in the early modern period in England and America, which will be published by Cambridge University Press.

For an interview about her first book please click here. For an interview about her AHR article and new book click here

Also, click here to see this interview with her about her research on her current book from when she was at NCSU and the National Humanities Center is 2010.

Professor Brewer is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and co-editor of the American Society for Legal History's book series. In addition to the Guggenheim fellowship, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Huntington Library, among others.  She currently directs the History Honors program and is proud of her work protecting K-12 History Education in North Carolina in 2010, where she also served as state coordinator for the National Council for History Education. 

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