“Thinking about “Care” from the Age of Covid,” BrANCH Opening Keynote with Indiana University Prof. Sarah Knott


For the BrANCH conference’s opening night keynote, Indiana University Sally M. Reahard Professor of History Sarah Knott will re-examine the history of care in the long nineteenth-century North American and Atlantic past in light of the inequities that have been laid bare by the care crisis that has accompanied the still ongoing Covid pandemic. The talk will be held on April 7 at 7pm in Cook Hall at the State Historical Society of Missouri, and anyone interested in attending virtually can do so via this link.


Care is a human universal, for we are all interdependent. Lived experiences vary widely, and in ways that often align with degrees of dependence, hierarchized differences such as race, and material resources. In the United States, the care crisis that has accompanied the covid pandemic has made this starkly apparent. The vulnerability of elderly people in care homes, the effects on working parents of nursery and school closures, and the acute gendering and racialization of care demands, have been documented across the mainstream press and in the reports of government and voluntary agencies. Care is a keyword of our times. If so, how might we reapproach the history of care in the long nineteenth-century North American and Atlantic past?


Sarah Knott is the Sally M. Reahard Professor of History at Indiana University, as well as a Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute and Affiliate Faculty Member in IU’s Department of Gender Studies. Her first book, Sensibility and the American Revolution, was published in 2009 by University of North Carolina Press, and she was co-editor, with Prof. Barbara Taylor, of Women, Gender, and Enlightenment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Most recently, she is author of Mother Is A Verb: An Unconventional History (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2019), which was translated into five languages, and co-editor, with Emma Griffin, of Mothering’s Many Labours (Past & Present, 2020). She has published articles in, among other places, William & Mary Quarterly and American Historical Review, where she has also served as both Associate and Acting Editor. She received her D.Phil. from University of Oxford and has received Research Fellowships from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, University of London, and Oxford University. In 2013, she was elected to the Editorial Board of Past and Present.