The Legal History Podcast

EPISODE 29: Jonathan Gienapp

June 13, 2022

Jonathan Gienapp is an assistant professor in Stanford’s Department of History. He is a scholar of Revolutionary and early republican America specializing in the period’s constitutionalism, political culture, legal history, and intellectual history. He is also interested in the method and practice of the history of ideas. His first book, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era (Harvard University Press, Belknap, 2018), rethinks the conventional story of American constitutional creation by exploring how and why founding-era Americans’ understanding of their Constitution transformed in the earliest years of the document’s existence. It investigates how early political debates over the Constitution’s meaning helped alter how Americans imagined the Constitution and its possibilities, showing how these changes created a distinct kind of constitutional culture, the consequences of which endure to this day. It won the 2017 Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press and the 2019 Best Book in American Political Thought Award from the American Political Science Association and was a finalist for the 2019 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. He has written extensively on the relationship between history and constitutional originalism, including in two essays that appeared on Process: A Blog for American History, published by the Organization of American Historians. He is currently completing a book (under contract with Yale University Press) that presents a comprehensive historical critique of originalism a preview of which can be found in an article recently published in Law and History Review, "Written Constitutionalism, Past and Present." 

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