Matthew Crow

Matthew CrowAssociate Professor of HistoryChair, HistoryChair, Law and Society

Joined faculty in 2012

Ph.D., UCLA (2011)
B.A., UCSD (2005)

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Contact Information

Henry HousePhone (315) 781-4625

Scholarly Interest

I work at the intersections of intellectual, constitutional, and environmental histories of the United States. Current interests include law and literature in historical perspective, the history of historiography and its relationship to law and empire, literature, and political thought, theories of legal personhood, and oceanic history. 

Teaching Experience

After lecturing in United States history at UCLA and UC Riverside, I have been at the Colleges since 2012.


I have written a book that looks at the use of historical materials for thinking and arguing about law and politics in the American Revolution and Early Republic. In the book, Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, I use Jefferson's collecting practices as crystalizations of wider problems in the authority of written law, race and settler colonialism, and narratives of natural jurisprudence and natural history in the constitutional transformations of the age of revolutions. 

For a second book project, I am using the writings of Herman Melville to reflect on early modern historiography and the attention Melville and others paid to legal history, to questions of equity and legal pluralism, to textuality, to symbolism and ethnography, and to islands, coasts, and the ocean as environments for collecting and constituting history before, during, and after the age of revolutions. Beyond that, I am at work primarily on the legal, literary, and intellectual history of the ocean, and more broadly on early American religious and intellectual history, and historiography and political thought.

Courses Taught

First Year Seminar

History 111: Topics in US History

- Tides of History

- History of Los Angeles

History 206: Colonial America

History 207: United States in the Age of Revolutions

History 233-234: American Thought

History 243-244: US Constitutional History

History 304: The Early American Republic (Seminar)

History 395: Oceans, Laws, and Empires (Seminar)

History 495: Honors Thesis


Book: Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Cambridge University Press, 2017. Series: Historical Studies in American Law and Society.

"The Understory," J19: The Journal of Nineteenth Century Americanists 9.2 (Fall 2021), Pleasure Reading, pp. 293-302.

"Jefferson's Whale: Race, Climate, and Commerce in Early America," Journal of the Early Republic, (Fall 2020), 435-463.

"Littoral Leviathan: Histories of Oceans, Laws, and Empires," Empire and Legal Thought: Ideas and Institutions from Antiquity to Modernity, Cavanagh, ed., (Brill Studies in the History of International Law, 2020), pp. 362-387.

"A Melvillean Moment: Law, History and Empire from Gibbon to Melville," Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 22:2 (June 2020), pp. 24-37.

"A Wrinkle in Maycomb Country: Law, Equity, and Conscience in Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman," Cumberland Law Review 47:1 (Jan., 2017), pp. 37-44.

"Thomas Jefferson and the Uses of Equity," Law and History Review 33:1 (Feb., 2015), 151-80.

"Atlantic North America from Contact to the Late 19th Century," Routledge Handbook of the Global History of Settler Colonialism, Cavanagh and Veracini, eds., (Routledge, 2016), pp. 95-108.

"Jefferson, Pocock, and the Temporality of Law in a Republic," Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts (December 15, 2010).


I organize the Central New York Early Modern Seminar, which meets once a semester at varying locations. If you are in the area and interested, please get in touch! 

Proud to be a faculty athletic fellow for HWS Rowing.