Lisa McGirr is a professor at Harvard University specializing in the history of the United States in the 20th century. Her research bridges the fields of social and political history and focuses in particular on collective action, political culture, reform movements, and political ideology. She has published widely on transnational social movements and on the history of the conservative movement in the United States since 1945. Her prize-winning first book, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton University Press, 2001), charts the history of the Right from an anticommunist, antiestablishment fringe to a broad national movement.
At Radcliffe, McGirr will complete a book project that provides a new narrative of national Prohibition. Drawing on manuscript sources to chart the experience of ordinary Americans with this unprecedented experiment to eradicate liquor consumption, she argues that national Prohibition was both modern and partially successful—indeed, that it was at the root of modern American politics. By linking an account of institutional change with a social history of popular experience, McGirr seeks to show how Prohibition contributed to the growth of the administrative state, the reshaping of American liberalism, and the birth of the 20th-century Right.
McGirr holds a PhD from Columbia University. Her publications include American History Now (Temple University Press, 2011), coedited with Eric Foner, and “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti: A Global History” (Journal of American History, March 2007). Her year at Radcliffe is made possible by a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars.