Amy S. Greenberg begins the 2018-2019 academic year as the new George Winfree Professor of American History. Greenberg was named Winfree Professor in May, upon the retirement of Carol Reardon, who had served as Winfree Professor since 2010 when the professorship was established with a generous gift from Tracy (’65) and Ted McCourtney. A scholar of the Civil War era, Greenberg’s research interests in such topics as masculinity, urban history, and antebellum American imperialism have been supported with fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society. She is the author of numerous articles and books on the Civil War era. Her most recent book, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the U.S. Invasion of Mexico (Knopf/Vintage Books, 2012), won the Robert Utley Award from the Western History Association and the Best Book Awards from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. A Wicked War also was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a selection of the Book of the Month Club, History Book of the Month Club, and Military Book of the Month Club.
Greenberg’s first publication as Winfree Professor will be Lady First: the World of First Lady Sarah Polk, which is due out in February 2019. Unique among First Ladies, Sarah Polk helped to manage President James K. Polk’s political career, shape foreign policy, and direct the movement in favor of war with Mexico. Greenberg provides the first in-depth biography of a woman who wielded unprecedented political power for the antebellum era yet rejected the goals of the period’s leading feminists and women’s rights advocates. Upon being named Winfree Professor, Greenberg reflected, “It’s a great honor to follow Professor Carol Reardon as the George Winfree Professor of American History. I thank the McCourtneys for their great generosity in endowing this chair, and look forward to enhancing the educational offerings of our undergraduate and graduate students studying American history here at Penn State with Winfree Professorship funds.”