Jennifer Burns

Associate Professor of History
Ph.D., University of California, History (2005)
M.A., University of California, History (2001)
A.B., Harvard University, History (1998)
Jennifer Burns
I am a historian of the twentieth century United States working at the intersection of intellectual, political, and cultural history, with a particular interest in ideas about the state, markets, and capitalism and how these play out in policy and politics.

My first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford, 2009), was an intellectual biography of the libertarian novelist Ayn Rand. For more on this book, watch my interviews with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, or check out my website ( I am currently writing a book about the economist Milton Friedman.

At Stanford, I’ve been involved in a number of new initiatives, including serving as a faculty advisor to the Approaches to Capitalism Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center, co-founding the Bay Area Consortium for the History of Ideas in America (BACHIA), and convening the Hoover Institution Library and Archives Workshop on Political Economy.

I teach courses on modern U.S. history, religious history, and the intellectual history of capitalism.

My writing on the history of conservatism, libertarianism, and liberalism has appeared in a number of academic and popular journals, including Reviews in American History, Modern Intellectual History, Journal of Cultural Economy, The New York Times, The New Republic, and Dissent.

Prospective graduate students: please consult my history department webpage for more information on graduate study.

Featured News

March 24, 2020
Stanford historian Jennifer Burns discusses how universal basic income could become a major discussion point in Washington D.C. as policymakers respond to the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic. Until now, universal basic income – a concept that would give all members of society an unconditional, guaranteed cash payment – has received...
August 8, 2018
BY CLIFTON B. PARKER Given the flux of American politics right now, an idea like ‘universal basic income’ could gain political traction, a Stanford historian says. Stanford scholar Jennifer Burns, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an associate professor of history in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences says such a...
Cultural History
Economic and Financial History
Intellectual History
Political Culture

Journal Article on What Was Conservatism?  Chronicle of Higher Education, November 2016.

Journal Article on “The Three ‘Furies’ of Libertarianism: Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand,” Journal of American History, Vol. 102, No. 3 (December 2015) : 746-774.

Journal Article, “The ‘Root of All Good’: Ayn Rand’s Meaning of Money,” Journal of Cultural Economy, Vol. 4, No. 3 (August 2011) : 329-347.