Department of History

David Prior

  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History
  • Assistant Editor, Journal of American History


  • B.A. at Hamilton College, NY, 2001
  • M.A. at University of South Carolina, 2006
  • Ph.D. at University of South Carolina, 2010

Contact Information

1215 E. Atwater Avenue


David Prior

My book project, Reconstruction Unbound: American Worldviews in a Period of Promise and Conflict, 1865-1874, examines how Americans thought nationally and globally in the wake of the Civil War.  I contend that while struggles in and about the South fired the political conflicts that defined Reconstruction, Republicans and Democrats understood themselves as acting within much larger historical contexts.  By exploring when and why Reconstruction’s partisans expressed concern with disparate places and events my manuscript offers a broader reconsideration of the intellectual and political culture of the Civil War-era United States.  I have published research articles on American interest and involvement in the 1866 Cretan Insurrection against the Ottoman Empire (Journal of Social History) and on northern Republican attempts to reconstruct Mormon society in the Utah Territory (Civil War History), the latter of which won awards from the Western History Association and the Utah State Historical Society.  I have also received support (jointly) from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Mellon Foundation for my research on the exploration of Africa and the politics of race in the United States.  I recently had the privilege to organize, moderate, an edit a discussion on “Teaching the American Civil War Era in Global Context” that will be published by the Journal of the Civil War Era in 2014.
My book project has encouraged my interests in several fields of study, including Atlantic history, the history of slavery and emancipation, and nationalism studies.  With the last of these, I have been especially fortunate to serve as an Advisory Board Member for the H-Net group H-Nationalism, where I have helped oversee an expansion of our research activities.  Scholars interested in contributing to H-Nationalism by reviewing books, sending us syllabi, or helping with our collaborative bibliography are invited to visit our main page at 

In addition to teaching survey courses on both halves of American history, I have had the chance to develop upper-division undergraduate courses on the comparative history of nationalism and on the global dimensions of the American Civil War.  

Selected Awards

•    LCP-HSP Mellon Research Fellowship
•    Michael P. Malone Article Award, Western History Association
•    Leroy S. Axland Best Utah History Article Award
•    Graduate School Fellow, University of South Carolina, 2004-2010

Research Interests

Courses Recently Taught

•    Colonial North American & U.S. History to 1865
•    U.S. History since 1865
•    Nationalism: Myth and Reality
•    The U.S. Civil War in Global Context

Publication Highlights

“Reconstruction Unbound: American Worldviews in a Period of Promise and Conflict, 1865-1874,” book manuscript in progress

“Civilization, Republic, Nation: Contested Keywords, Northern Republicans, and the Forgotten Reconstruction of Mormon Utah,” Civil War History 56:3 (September 2010): 281-308

“’Crete the Opening Wedge’: Nationalism and International Affairs in Postbellum America,” Journal of Social History 42:3 (June 2009): 861-887

Contribution on Paul Du Chaillu, Phil Lapsansky: Appreciations (Philadelphia: Library Company of Philadelphia, 2012), 126-128