Lawrence McDonnell

Lawrence McDonnell

  • Assistant Professor, Iowa State University
My research explores nineteenth-century American history, with particular focus on the Old South, the coming of the Civil War, and the central role that conflict played in reconstructing the United States as a capitalist nation. My first book, Performing Disunion: The Coming of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina considers how social contradictions at street level generated revolutionary change. In addition, I have published essays on slavery, Southern politics, honor and chivalry, masculinity, and labor history in The Journal of Social History, Labour/Le Travail, the Slavery and Antislavery digital history collection, and several edited volumes. My research has been supported by fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, and Richmond: The International American University in London. In 2016, I will complete a microhistorical analysis of the life of a surprising Southern confidence man. Beyond that, I am at work on a study of the intersection of military and labor history—Bloody Work: The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class—and (with Kathleen Hilliard) researching the collapse of the planter class in the British Caribbean through the fortunes of the Codrington family of Antigua and Barbados.


Contact Info

615 Ross
527 Farm House Lane
Social Media and Websites


  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Selected Publications

“The Deceivingest Fellow:  Honor, Respectability, and the Crisis of Character in the Old South.”  In John Mayfield and Todd Hagstette, eds., The Field of Honor: Essays on Southern Character and American Identity (Columbia:  University of South Carolina Press, 2017).

“Elizabethan Dreams, Victorian Nightmares:  Antebellum South Carolina’s Future through an English Looking Glass.”  In Cornelis A. van Minnen and Manfred Berg, eds., The U. S. South and Europe: Transatlantic Relations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Lexington:  University of Kentucky Press, 2013).

“The Transnational War Against Slavery:  Rethinking Abolition and its Opponents through the Slavery and Anti-Slavery Archive.” In Susan Finding, ed., The Abolition of Slavery in Britain, 1787-1840: Debate and Dissension (Paris: Armand Colin, 2009).

“Ambiguities of the Upcountry Slaves’ Economy.”  In Mark M. Smith, ed., The Old South (Malden:  Basil Blackwell, 2001), 188-197.

“Work, Culture, and Society in the Slave South, 1790-1865.”  In Ted Ownby, ed., Black and White Cultural Interaction in the Antebellum South (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1993), 125-149.

“Money Knows No Master: Market Relations and the American Slave Community.”  In Winifred B. Moore, Jr., Joseph F. Tripp, and Lyon G. Tyler, eds., Developing Dixie: Modernization in a Traditional Culture (Westport:  Greenwood Press, 1988), 31-44.