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Publications in VIVO

Fenn, Elizabeth Distinguished Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Professor Fenn’s field of study is the early American West, focusing on epidemic disease, Native American, and environmental history. Her 2001 book Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, unearthed the devastating effects of a smallpox epidemic that swept North America during the years of the American Revolution. In 2014, Fenn published Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, which analyzes Mandan Indian history from 1100 to 1845. Fenn is now writing an expansive biography of Sacagawea, using her life story to illuminate the wider history of the West. Fenn is also the coauthor, with Peter H. Wood, of Natives and Newcomers: The Way We Lived in North Carolina before 1770, a popular history of early North Carolina which appeared in 1983.


  • early American West, Native American history, colonial American history, history of the American Revolution, epidemic disease in American history, Mandan Indians, smallpox, environmental history


selected publications


courses taught

  • HIST 3115 - Seminar in Early American History
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Recommended restriction: History GPA of 2.0 or higher. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.
  • HIST 4326 - Epidemic Disease in US History
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Focuses on the impact of infectious epidemic disease on American history, from smallpox and cholera to influenza, AIDS and Ebola. Addresses early depopulation of the Americas; contagion and social upheaval; interpretations of pestilence; social construction of disease; urbanization; doctors and alternative practitioners; public health; prejudice and infection; the ethics of quarantine; public versus individual interests; and the paradox of prevention.
  • HIST 7257 - Seminar: History of the American Frontier
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018


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