Research

My research interests focus on historic beer production and consumption, nineteenth century capitalism, German immigration and ethnicity, and modern craft beer.

 

Selected Works

“Beer to Stay: Brewed Culture, Ethnicity and the Market Revolution” (dissertation, 2018)

This project examines how German immigrants used beer production and consumption to negotiate the terms of American citizenship in mid-nineteenth century Chicago and Cincinnati. It also investigates how beer was, in turn, used against those immigrants by nativist and temperance organizations. A German-led proliferation of lager beer  transformed and expanded the  brewing industry after the 1840s. In the economically and culturally transformative context of the market revolution, lager beer constituted a transnationally constructed immigrant product. Through beer, German purveyors (and drinkers) employed their ethnocultural worldview to exert agency over the terms of inclusion in American society. Their effort was contested, violently in the case of Chicago’s Lager Beer Riot of 1855, by nativist and temperance reformers who were themselves products of the ongoing changes in the American economy. I argue that brewing gave transatlantic immigrants significant but controversial agency in the nation’s steady march toward industrialized capitalism. I am currently in the process of converting this work into a book manuscript. Available via ProQuest.

 

“Change from Without: Comparing the Rise of Craft to the Rise of Lager in America” (book chapter, forthcoming)

This work explores the parallels between the ongoing development of craft brewing in the United States and the rise of American lager beer production from the 1840s through the 1880s.

Though craft brewing represents a radical pivot in the way Americans consider their beer, it is not the first time beer has undergone such a stark transformation in the United States. Nineteenth century America hosted a pivot of its own when lager breweries, mostly operated by German immigrants, began dotting the landscape. Originally a controversial ethnic product, lager beer’s influence on the 19th century brewing industry shares marked characteristics with modern craft beer, specifically local scopes of operation, contentious questions of diversity and inclusion, as well as departures from established beer styles and production methods. A comparative look at these two developments allows for a reconsideration of the recent resurgence of localized, diversified, and innovative brewing institutions, as well as the capital and class structures that govern them. This chapter will appear in What’s Brewing: Essays on Beer Culture, edited by Paul Bruski and Annie Sugar, forthcoming from McFarland & Co.

 

“Andrew Bolter (1820-1900)” (biography, 2013) (link)

Part of Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, a multi-volume series published by the German Historical Institute, this essay traces the life of Chicago iron manufacturer Andrew Bolter. His business and social activities are put in direct conversation with his immigrant status and experiences, helping demonstrate how German communities in Chicago successfully reconciled their ethnic perspective with the overall growth of the city. This work reinforced the ethnocultural process of hyphenation between German and American perspectives that I argue in subsequent scholarship.

 

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