Brian Steele. Associate Professor
(205) 934-5487
Heritage Hall 356

Research and Teaching Interests: American intellectual and cultural history, American Revolution and early republic, historiography, nationalism, gender

Office Hours: M/W 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. (and by appointment)


  • BA, University of Tulsa
  • MA, University of Tulsa
  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003

Brian Steele specializes in American intellectual and political history with a particular emphasis on the American Revolution and Early American Republic. His book Thomas Jefferson and American Nationhood (Cambridge, 2012) was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize and was named a 2012 notable title by the Society for US Intellectual History.

Steele teaches a wide variety of courses on the graduate and undergraduate level, including Writing and Ratification of the Constitution, the American Revolution, and Capitalism and Democracy in the Early American Republic, as well as special seminars on Lincoln and Jefferson. He loves to write and teach about questions he finds interesting (which quite often have something to do with what you might think of broadly as American Studies), so you might find him teaching courses that range widely across chronology (like his course on the Idea of America) and territory (like his upcoming honors seminar on Citizenship, Statelessness, and Human Rights in the Modern World). All of his courses consider the intersections of politics, culture, and thought, and encourage students to think about the cultural productions of an era (novels, poetry, film) as historical artifacts that offer us insight about meaning and the human condition in a particular time and place.

Recent Courses

  • Hamilton, the Musical: The Class!
  • Topics in American Thought: Hannah Arendt in the American Century
  • American Revolution
  • Lincoln in American History and Memory

Select Publications

  • "‘The wolf’s dictionary has been repudiated’: Borges for Historians, or The Possibility of National Memory,” Variaciones Borges, vol. 44 (November 2017), 213-238.
  • “Thinking with Jefferson in the Age of Gatsby: Narratives of the Founding in American Political Discourse,” Amerikastudien, vol. 61 (2016), 69-94.
  • “The Literature of Revolution,” in Kevin Hayes, ed., The Cambridge History of Virginia Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2015, 82-95.

Academic Distinctions & Professional Memberships

Thomas Jefferson and American Nationhood named:

  • Named "Outstanding Teacher in the University Honors Program" by honors students, 2014
  • Finalist for 2013 George Washington Book Prize, C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon
  • Notable Title in American Intellectual History by Society for US Intellectual History

Student Groups

  • University Honors Program Coffeehouse