Jeremy Zallen, Assistant Professor, Lafayette College
Barra Sabbatical Fellow
“American Lucifers: Makers and Masters of the Means of Light, 1750-1870”
Jeremy Zallen completed his PhD at Harvard University in 2014. That same year, he joined the faculty of Lafayette College as an assistant professor of History. He is currently the Barra Postdoctoral Sabbatical Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania where he is working on completing his book manuscript, American Lucifers: Makers and Masters of the Means of Light, 1750-1870, under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press. In American Lucifers, he aims to write a social history of light arguing that—behind the famous and celebrated inventions and science—the surprisingly violent work and struggles to produce, control, and consume the changing means of illumination over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries transformed slavery, industrial capitalism, and urban life in profound, but often hidden ways. In particular, American Lucifers explores the worlds built around the practices and products of whaling, turpentine, coal gas, meat-packing, phosphorus matches, and petroleum.