Ryan Quintana

Associate Professor of History

Historian of slavery, space and governance in the 18th and 19th Centuries

I am an historian of slavery, emancipation, space, and governance in the 18th and 19th century Anglo-American world. My first book, Making a Slave State: Political Development in Early South Carolina (UNC Press, 2018), examined the various ways enslaved men and women sat at the center of South Carolina’s earliest political development, materially producing the state’s infrastructure and early governing practices, while also challenging and reshaping both through their day-to-day movements. My current research focuses on the everyday governing practices of emancipation in the broader Anglo-American world from the late 18th century to the American Civil War. I am currently completing an article on the early roots of compensated emancipation that examines state-funded indemnities made to slave-owners upon the criminal execution of enslaved men and women.

In addition to the history of slavery and emancipation, I am broadly interested in the history of race, liberalism, capitalism, and the rise of the modern state throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At Wellesley, these interests are made manifest in my courses, all of which cover the period between the Seven Years War and the Great Depression. These include courses on the American South, the trans-Mississippi West, and the social history of American Capitalism.


HIST244 History of the American West: Manifest Destiny to Pacific Imperialism

HIST245 The Social History of American Capitalism from Revolution to Empire

HIST261 The Civil War and the World

HIST267 Deep in the Heart: The American South in the Nineteenth Century

HIST311 Seminar: A New Birth of Freedome: Reimagining American History from Revolution to Civil War

HIST312 Seminar: Understanding Race in the United States, 1776-1918


  • B.A., University of Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Madison)