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Eisel biographical page


Christine Eisel



Christine Eisel 

Office: 104 Mitchell
Telephone: 901.678.2519
Fax: 901.678.2720
Education: Ph.D., Early American Policy History, Bowling Green State University, 2012



Fields of interest

Colonial America; women and gender; colonial law and policy; folkways in colonial America.

My current work examines women’s gossip in two of Virginia’s earliest counties, Accomack and York.  Using county court records that date back to the 1630s, I have pieced together an investigation into women’s speech and the corresponding punishment, revealing not just women’s role in early Virginian society, but also the interaction between women and formal institutions. In considering women’s gossip and the attention it drew from local and colonial authorities, I have demonstrated that gossip challenged colonial law while supplementing the authority of the county courts.The reaction to gossips reveals how the expectations of masculine authority impacted community formation on a small scale, and in turn, how those communities informed colonial interests, giving us a more complete understanding of what it meant to be an English subject in the Chesapeake.  

Courses taught

U.S surveys, Colonial and Revolutionary America, New Nation, Women in American History, Women in Colonial America, Law and Society in Colonial America, Violence in Early America, US Historiography, Research Methods.


  • “They make one very handsome Mirkin amongst them”: Gossip and Church Politics in Early York County, Virginia in When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States, Jennifer Frost and Kathleen Feeley, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).


  • Review, Taming Passion for the Public Good: Policing Sex in the Early Republic by Mark E. Kann (New York and London: New York University Press, 2013) in The Journal of Southern History (November 2014).

Works in Progress

  • Co-editor, Shaping the New World: A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection (ABC-Clio, forthcoming, 2017).
  • “The Women of Bacon’s Rebellion.” Invited research for the Women and Social Movements website (solicited by Thomas Dublin, editor, WASM).
  • “The Clerk’s Tale: The Politics of Record-Keeping in Early America.” Journal article, co-authored with Ruth Wallis Herndon (Bowling Green State University). To be submitted to Journal of American History for consideration in 2015.
  • “Violence and Identity in Colonial America” (tentative title). The Bedford Digital Collections (solicited by William Lombardo, acquisition editor, Bedford/St. Martin’s).

Recent Conference Presentations

  • “Gossip and Politics in Early Virginia” (tentative title). Paper to be presented at the Organization of American Historians Conference, St. Louis, MO, April 2015.
  • “The Performance of Gender in Early Virginia Courts.” Paper presented in the workshop “Early Modern Courts” at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, Toronto, Canada, 22-25 May 2014.

  • “The Power of the County Court Clerks in Early Virginia.” Paper presented to the Virginia Forum, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA, 21-23 March 2013.
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