PhD 2015, Northwestern University
422P Minard Hall
Research Areas: Colonial and Revolutionary America, Early American Republic, Popular Politics, War and Society, Early Modern Empires, Comparative Revolutions, and Memory Studies
Don Johnson researches popular politics during the era of the American Revolution, with a particular emphasis on how the experiences of ordinary people shaped social and political change. His first book, Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of Revolution, argues that the everyday abuses and hardships of military occupation doomed attempts by British soldiers and statesmen to re-incorporate the colonies into the Empire. Johnson is currently working on a study of community-level revolutionary activity in the twenty months leading up to July 1776, tentatively titled "The Popular Politics of American Independence."
At NDSU, Johnson teaches courses and advises graduate students on early America, memory studies, and historical research and writing. He also has expertise in public history and material culture studies.
Why did you become a professional historian?
Growing up in Maryland, history was everywhere, and I was especially inspired by frequent visits to nearby museums and historic sites such as the Smithsonian, Gettysburg Battlefield, Colonial Williamsburg, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, as well as travelling as a teenager and young adult around North America and Europe. Through my teaching and scholarship, I hope to craft engaging narratives that give people the tools to relate to the past on their own terms.
What makes you excited working with students?
Studying history builds thinking, writing, and research skills in a unique way that prepares students not just for future careers but for being good citizens. In my courses students develop their knowledge by reading works of modern historians as well as the documents left by those in the past, and apply that knowledge in vigorous class debates and writing assignments that encourage them to make original arguments about historical dilemmas.
Select Media Appearances:
6/30/22 Interview on Prairie Pulse
HIST 103: US History to 1877
HIST 130: The American Presidency
HIST 328: War and Society in America
HIST 390: Historical Research and Writing
HIST 415/615: Memory and Memorialization in America
HIST 420/620: Colonial America
HIST 421/621: Revolutionary America
HIST 730: The Age of Atlantic Revolutions
Dr. Johnson's full CV can be found here.