Department of History

Sarah Knott

  • Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, American Studies Program
  • Acting Editor, American Historical Review


  • D. Phil. at University of Oxford, 1999

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 710
(812) 856-0092


Sarah Knott

I am a British-born scholar of early America and the revolutionary Atlantic world. My research focuses on the intricate meeting-ground of politics, culture and society. What changed in formations of self, and understandings of the world, in the long late eighteenth century? And what historical methods allow us to ask, and to start to answer, such a question?

My first book explores how sensibility, a way of being that celebrated the human capacity for sympathy, was central to the American Revolution. Sensibility and the American Revolution thus looks beyond traditional accounts of social unrest, republican and liberal ideology, and the rise of the individual. Sensibility was a revolutionary political project inseparable from the founding of the United States. The American Revolution sought the transformation of self and society, as much as the independent forms of government we know so well. Understanding that revolution involves braiding the methods of cultural history with those of political and social history.

Before moving to the United States, I was involved in the London-based and interdisciplinary "Feminism and Enlightenment" project. This sought to reconnect two eighteenth-century domains more traditionally conceived entirely separately. The fruit of the project was Women, Gender and Enlightenment, co-edited with Barbara Taylor. My research remains intimately concerned with questions of women, gender and feminism in past and present.

Currently, I am expanding my research from the United States to the connected and comparative revolutionary histories of France and of Haiti. 

Selected Awards

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
  • Research Fellowship, University of London, "Feminism and Enlightenment: A Comparative History" Project
  • Junior Research Fellowship, Oxford University
  • Indiana University Outstanding Junior Faculty Award

Research Interests

  • Early America
  • Women, gender, feminism
  • Revolutionary Atlantic world

Courses Recently Taught

  • The Atlantic Eighteenth Century
  • Revolutions in the 'Age of the Democratic Revolution': America, France, Haiti
  • The Body in Early America
  • Revolutionary America and the Early Republic
  • Women, Gender and Enlightenment

Publication Highlights


[Co-edited with Barbara Taylor] Women, Gender and Enlightenment. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Sensibility and the American Revolution Omohundro Institute, University of North Carolina Press, 2009.


“Sensibility and the American War for Independence.” American Historical Review 109 (2004): 19-40.

“The Patient’s Case: Sentimental Empiricism and Knowledge in the Early Republic”, William and Mary Quarterly 67 (2010), 645-676