Jeremy D Popkin

popkin's picture
  • Professor
  • William T. Bryan Chair Professorship
  • History
  • Jewish Studies
  • Social Theory
1725 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D., California / Berkeley, 1977
A.M., Harvard, 1971
B.A., California/Berkeley, 1970


Jeremy D. Popkin received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an A.M. degree from Harvard University.  When he was hired on a one-year contract at the University of Kentucky in 1978, the History Department secretary put him in what was then the department's conference room, saying, "Since you won't be staying long, it won't matter."  Popkin is still occupying the same office.

Popkin's scholarly interests include the history of the French and Haitian revolutions and the topic of autobiographical literature.  His newest book is A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution (Basic Books, 2019).  His other publications include  From Herodotus to H-Net: The Story of Historiography (Oxford University Press, 2015, 2019) You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery_ (2010), _Revolutionary News:  The Press in France, 1789-1799_ (1990), _History, Historians and Autobiography_ (2005), and a number of other books and scholarly articles.  Popkin has held fellowships from the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Newberry Library, and has been a visiting professor at Brown University and at the College de France, which has recorded his lectures as podcasts (in French).  In 2012, Popkin was a short-term visiting professor at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and in 2013 he was named the Christian Wolff Visiting Professor at the Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany.

Popkin teaches undergraduate courses on the era of the French Revolution, on Europe since 1989, and modern Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust.  He has served as director of UK's Jewish Studies program, and has frequently participated in the UK Social Theory program.  In 2015-2016, Popkin co-directed the College of Arts and Sciences' "Year of Europe" program.

Professor Popkin is no longer accepting new graduate students.


 Current research projects:

(1) the French Revolution and Slavery:  a book-length study of the French revolutionary debates concerning slavery, intended to demonstrate the central importance of this issue throughout the Revolution and the significance of the French Revolution's confrontation with slavery in the larger story of abolition in the Atlantic world.

(2) "How to Visit a History Museum":  These days, history museums are among the hottest sites for creative reinterpretation of the past.  I'm contemplating a book about this subject.  If nothing else, it gives me an excellent excuse to travel and visit a wide variety of these institutions.

(3) "American. Jewish. Woman. Writer": That's my working title for a possible book about my grandmother, Zelda Popkin (1898-1983).  She was a novelist in the period from 1940 to 1975, and retracing her life offers a chance to probe key issues in American Jewish and women's history.  She wrote the first novel in any language about the creation of the state of Israel (_Quiet Street_ (1951)).

Graduate Training

Popkin received his A.M. degree in history at Harvard University in 1971, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1977

Selected Publications: 


Edited volumes:

Over 175 journal articles, contributions to collective publications and articles in reference works, including articles in American Historical Review, Journal of Modern History, Historical Journal, Revue d'historie moderne et contemporaine, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, Journalism Quarterly, Jewish Social Studies, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, A/b: Auto/biography Studies, Biography, New Literary History, History and Memory, Slavery and Abolition, Shofar, Studies in American Jewish Literature, French Historical Studies, French History.