Jonathan Gienapp

Assistant Professor of History
Jonathan Gienapp
Jonathan Gienapp is an assistant professor in the History department. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Principally a scholar of Revolutionary and early republican America, he is particularly interested in the period’s constitutionalism, political culture, and intellectual history. More generally, he is interested in the method and practice of the history of ideas.

His recently-published book, *The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era* (Harvard University Press, 2018), rethinks the conventional story of American constitutional creation by exploring how and why founding-era Americans’ understanding of their Constitution transformed in the earliest years of the document’s existence. More specifically, it investigates how early political debates over the Constitution’s meaning, in transforming the practices through which one could justifiably interpret the document, helped in the process alter how Americans imagined the Constitution and its possibilities. In the process, it considers how these changes created a distinct kind of constitutional culture, the consequences of which endure to this day. It won the 2017 Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press and the 2019 Best Book in American Political Thought Award from the American Political Science Association and was a finalist for the 2019 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. In addition, it was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2019 and a Spectator USA Book of the Year for 2018. It has been reviewed in The Nation, was the subject of a symposium at Balkinization, and was chosen for the 2019 Publius Symposium co-hosted by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and the Stanford Center for Law and History. He wrote about some of the book's central themes in an op-ed for the Boston Globe, and has discussed the book on "New Books in History" and "The Age of Jackson Podcast" as well as in interviews for The Way of Improvement Leads Home and the Harvard University Press Blog.

Gienapp has also written on a range of related topics pertaining to early American constitutionalism and interpretation, early national political culture, originalism and modern constitutional theory, and the study of the history of ideas. He has published articles and essays in the Journal of the Early Republic, The New England Quarterly, the Fordham Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, the Texas Law Review Online, the American University Law Review Forum, Process: A Blog for American History, and an edited volume on neo-nullification and secession in American constitutional culture. He has articles forthcoming in Law and History Review and an edited volume on the early American presidency.

Featured News

October 20, 2020
This year, as voters across the United States begin to cast ballots, the very real prospect of a contested election hangs over the presidential race. Unlike his modern predecessors, who have agreed to accept the election results, President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that he may not do so. His comments have prompted many to wonder what will...
May 8, 2020
The Age of Jackson Podcast Hosted by Daniel N. Gullota Guest: Professor Jonathan Gienapp   A stunning revision of our founding document’s evolving history that forces us to confront anew the question that animated the founders so long ago: What is our Constitution?  Americans widely believe that the United States Constitution was...
September 26, 2019
JONATHAN GIENAPP, assistant professor of history, has been awarded the Best Book in American Political Thought award for his book, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era. The award was presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C. In that book...

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