James Rice

James Rice

Walter S. Dickson Professor of English and American History
Department Chair
East Hall, Room 108
6 The Green, Medford, MA


A sixth-generation Californian, I traveled "back East" for a BA in History at the Colorado College, then went on to earn a PhD in early American History at the University of Maryland. Before coming to Tufts I taught at a variety of institutions, including SUNY Plattsburgh, Washington College, and Tübingen University.

My scholarship and teaching are aimed at breaking down the barriers between what are often treated as separate subjects: between "American history" and Native American history, between colonial American and "prehistory," between the national histories of what are today the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and above all between History and neighboring disciplines. I'm currently working on two books. The first is a synthesis of Native American environmental history from Oaxaca to the Arctic and from the first human habitation of North America to the present, while the second is a reappraisal of England's first permanent American colony (entitled Founding Massacres: Violence, Ambition, and the Birth of Virginia).


  • PhD University of Maryland, 1994
  • MA University of Maryland, 1989
  • BA Colorado College, 1985


Early American, Native American, and Environmental History

Selected Honors and Awards

IQS/ETRC Scholar-in-Residence, Bishop's University, Sherbrooke, Québec, 2016
OAH Binkley-Stephenson Award for the year's best article in the Journal of American History, 2015
Patrick Henry Writer-in-Residence, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College, 2014-2015
Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 2012

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • "War and Politics: Powhatan Expansionism and the Problem of Native American Warfare," William and Mary Quarterly (Jan. 2020).
  • "Early American Environmental Histories," William and Mary Quarterly (2018)
  • "Bacon's Rebellion in Indian Country," Journal of American History (2014).
  • Tales from a Revolution: Bacon's Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America (Oxford University Press, 2012; Audio and College Paperback editions, 2013).
  • Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009; new paperback edition in 2016).