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Dr. Chris  Bischof
Dr. Chris Bischof
Associate Professor of History

I teach on the history of modern Britain in a way that emphasizes the links between British, imperial, and global history.  I do so in a survey course on "Britain and the World" as well as courses on more focused topics like "Crime and Punishment in British Cities," "Brexit: A History," "The Business of Imperialism," "A Tale of Two Cities: Glasgow and Edinburgh," and "Social Reformers in the Modern British World." 

As a researcher, my work tends to focus on the histories of education and emancipation.  My current book project, Easy Fixes: Race, Capitalism, and Social Engineering Schemes in the British West Indies, 1823-1865, explores the enthusiasm for light-handed, low-cost interventions that could supposedly make the transition from slavery to freedom both humane and profitable for everyone.  Easy Fixes examines the implications of this approach to emancipation both for freedpeople and for the way that Britons thought about race, capitalism, and imperial governance. 

I'm also in the early stages of a biography of William Campbell, a teacher in a scattered crofting community in the Scottish Highlands in the early twentieth century.  Rather than a traditional biography, the focus of this project is on the institutions and cultural currents that facilitated the dense web of connections between the local, national, imperial, and global which so profoundly shaped Campbell’s life and work.  This interest in Campbell emerged out of my first book, Teaching Britain: Elementary Teachers and the State of Everyday, 1846-1906 (Oxford University Press, 2019).  Teaching Britain challenged the insularity of many histories of education by exploring elementary teachers’ work as crucial social and cultural brokers who helped to reshape the state and its relationship to society.

Grants and Fellowships

2017-2018: Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship

2014: Summer Research Grant, Franklin & Marshall College

2013-2014: Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, Rutgers University

2011-2012: Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education Dissertation

2010, 2011: Mellon Summer Research Grants, Rutgers University

2009-2010: Graduate Associate, Rutgers Center for European Studies

2009: Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Research Grant


2014: Honorable Mention for History of Education Society Biannual Article Prize, for “Masculinity, Social Mobility, and the Plan to End Pauperism in Mid-Victorian England”


2014: “Seeing the World: Proto-Ethnography and Cultural Play in British Elementary Teachers’ Imperial and European Travel Narratives,” at the UK History of Education Society Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland

2014: “Making the Malleable Child: Emancipation, Elementary Education, and the Missionary Articulation of Childhood in Jamaica, 1838-1865,” American Historical Association Annual Conference, Washington D.C.

2013: “Narrating Value: Elementary Teachers’ Work and the Use of Logbooks, 1862-1902,” at the Princeton-Rutgers Graduate Student Interdisciplinary Conference on Use/Value, Princeton, NJ

2013: “Elementary Teachers’ Narration of Work in Victorian London and Glasgow,” Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies Conference, New York, NY

2013: “’Fine specimens of English peasantry’: Pastoralism in Victorian Teachers’ Travel Narratives,” at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference, Charlottesville, VA

2012: “Elementary Education and the Limits of Slums and Slumming in Victorian London and Glasgow,” at the University of Warwick “Unplanned Wildernesses: Narrating the British Slum, 1844-1951,” Conference, Coventry, England

2012: “The Harvest Must Go On: Laissez-Faire Capitalism, Liberal Humanitarianism, and the Problem of Labor in the Post- Emancipation British West Indies,” at the NYU Atlantic History Seminar’s “Legends of Empire” Conference, New York, NY

2012: “Chinese Laborers and the Remaking of Creole Blackness in the Post- Emancipation British West Indies,” at the Mid-Atlantic World History Association Conference, New Brunswick, NJ

2011 “Pay, Prestige, and Lifestyle: The Hiring of Elementary Teachers in Glasgow and the Highlands and Islands, 1846-1902,” at the “Historical Perspectives on Scottish Education” Conference of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

2011: “The Case for ‘Scholarly Activism’: Communication and Community Empowerment,” opening remarks at the Activism and Scholarship Graduate Student Roundtable, New Brunswick, NJ

2011: “Teachers Behaving Badly: Narrative, Scandal, and the Paradigmatic Pedagogue in Victorian Britain,” at the “Victorian Voices and Visions” Graduate Conference, Princeton, NJ

2011: “The Nation in a College: Britishness and Cosmopolitanism in Victorian Teachers’ Training Colleges,” at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies, Abington, PA

2011: “Resisting the 'Peculiar Seductions' of Urban Environments: Sexuality, Criminality, and the Culture of Space in Victorian Britain,” at Yale’s “Healthy Environments in Historical Perspective”
Conference, New Haven, CT

2010: "Corporal Punishment as an Incitement to Discourse: Teachers, Caning, and Community in Nineteenth-Century England," at the Susman Graduate Conference, New Brunswick, NJ

2010: "Farming as Education in Modern Britain," at the “City and the Country Across Disciplines” Interdisciplinary Roundtable of the Rutgers British Studies Center, New Brunswick, NJ

2010: "Cultivating the Country: Pastoralism and Juvenile Reclamation in Britain, 1848-1870," at the Childhood Studies Graduate Conference, Camden, NJ

2010: "Demands of the Present, Hopes for the Future: Representing Truancy in England's Elementary Schools, 1870-1914," at the Rutgers British Studies Project Graduate Student Conference, New Brunswick, NJ

2010: “Negotiating Discipline: A Comparative Study of Corporal Punishment in Victorian London and Shropshire’s Elementary Schools," at the “Poetics of Pain” CUNY Graduate Conference, New York, NY

2009: "The Nature of Class: Education, Class Mobility, and Charity at Kneller Hall Training College, 1848-1854," at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies, Richmond, VA

2009 "Matronly Men and Breadwinning Boys: Class, Gender, and Domesticity in English Pauper Education, 1838-1860," at the Susman Graduate Conference, New Brunswick, NJ


Teaching Britain: Elementary Teachers and the State of the Everyday, 1846-1902 (Oxford University Press, 2019)


"Progress and the People: Histories of Mass Education and Conceptions of Britishness, 1870-1914” forthcoming in History of Education

"Liberal Subjects: Elementary Education and Native Agency in the British West Indies, c. 1834–1860," Slavery & Abolition, 40, 4 (2019), 750-773.

“A ‘Rich Crop of Nervousness’: Childhood, Expertise, and Elementary Education in the 1884 British Over-Pressure Controversy,” The English Historical Review 131, 553 (2016), 1415-1444.

Chinese Laborers, Free Blacks, and Social Engineering in the Post-Emancipation British West Indies, Past & Present 231 (2016), 129-168.

Awarded the 2017 Walter D. Love Prize for the best article in British history by the North American Conference on British Studies.

“‘A Home For Poets’: The Emergence of a Liberal Curriculum for Elementary Teachers in Victorian Britain,” History of Education Quarterly, 54, 1 (Spring, 2014), 42-69

“Masculinity, Social Mobility, and the Plan to End Pauperism in Mid-Victorian England: Kneller Hall Teachers’ Training College,” The Journal of Social History 46, 4 (Summer, 2013), 1039-1059.


Schoolteachers and Professionalism, 1696-1906,” in Robert Anderson, Mark Freeman and Lindsey Patterson eds., The Edinburgh History of Education in Scotland (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 208-225

Ph.D., Rutgers University 2014
B.A., University of Arizona 2008
Contact Information
327 Humanities Building
(804) 289-8335
Areas of Expertise
Modern Britain and the World
History of Education
British Emancipation