My teaching and research focus on the history of capitalism, labor, and the environment in rural America. My book project “The Rise of Industrial Capitalism in the Northern Forest, 1850-1950," provides a new perspective on the process of industrialization in America through the study of rural workers. I argue that, as rural America industrialized, the built environment and bodies of workers became conceived of as part of nature and these natural forces were mobilized to increase the scale and efficiency of production in the forest. The fulcrum of my argument is a 1904 scientific study of loggers’ diet that shows how the invention of the calorie and nutritional sciences allowed the metabolism of industrial workers to be refined and exploited as a natural force to speed up the labor process in the forest. The concept of this idealized working-class bodily form was then disseminated widely in American culture through middle-class outdoor leisure culture and college “physical culture” curriculum. Industrialization affected the way that Americans understood the natural male body. My next book project will deal with labor and the history of death and decay on the American landscape.
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