Christine Eisel

Christine Eisel

Associate Professor of Teaching

104 Mitchell
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Ph.D., Early American Policy History, Bowling Green State University, 2012

Fields of interest

Colonial America; women and gender; colonial law and policy; folkways in colonial America.

My current work examines women's gossip in two of Virginia's earliest counties, Accomack and York. Using county court records that date back to the 1630s, I have pieced together an investigation into women's speech and the corresponding punishment, revealing not just women's role in early Virginian society, but also the interaction between women and formal institutions. In considering women's gossip and the attention it drew from local and colonial authorities, I have demonstrated that gossip challenged colonial law while supplementing the authority of the county courts.The reaction to gossips reveals how the expectations of masculine authority impacted community formation on a small scale, and in turn, how those communities informed colonial interests, giving us a more complete understanding of what it meant to be an English subject in the Chesapeake.

Courses taught

U.S surveys, Early North America, American Revolutions, New Nations, Women in American History, Women in Colonial America, Law and Society in Colonial America, Violence in Early America, History of American Ideas and Culture, Governing Speech in Early America, Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Magic in Early America, US Historiography, Research Methods.


  • "They make one very handsome Mirkin amongst them": Gossip and Church Politics in Early York County, Virginia in When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States, Jennifer Frost and Kathleen Feeley, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).


  • Review: A Notorious Woman: Anne Royall in Jacksonian America (Charlottesville & London: University of Virginia Press, 2016) in The Journal of Southern History (forthcoming).
  • Review, Taming Passion for the Public Good: Policing Sex in the Early Republic by Mark E. Kann (New York and London: New York University Press, 2013) in The Journal of Southern History (November 2014).

Recent Conference Presentations

  • "'False Scandal Most Unwanting': Gossip and Status in Early Virginia." Paper to be presented at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Annual Conference, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va, June 2018.
  • "The Politics of Gossip in Early Virginia." Paper presented at the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC, March 2018.
  • "Conjuring Clerks and Vanishing Women: County Court Clerks and the Limitations of Gossip in Early Virginia." Paper presented at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Annual Conference, Worcester, MA, June 2016.
  • "Bringing Women's History to Distance Learners." Paper co-presented with Brigiitte Billeaudeaux at Women's History in the Digital World Conference, Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA, May 2015.
  • "The Performance of Gender in Early Virginia Courts." Paper presented in the workshop "Early Modern Courts" at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, Toronto, Canada, 22-25 May 2014.
  • "The Power of the County Court Clerks in Early Virginia." Paper presented to the Virginia Forum, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA, 21-23 March 2013.


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