Richard Bensel

Richard Bensel is Associate Chair and Gary S. Davis Professor of Government. He is the author of, most recently, Passion and Preferences: William Jennings Bryan and the 1896 Democratic National Convention (Cambridge University Press, 2008), The American Ballot Box in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and The Political Economy of American Industrialization 1877-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2000). The last book was awarded the 2002 David Greenstone Prize from the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association. Among his other publications are Yankee Leviathan: the Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877(Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Sectionalism and American Political Development, 1880-1980 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), as well as articles in the American Political Science ReviewPolityStudies in American Political DevelopmentSocial Science History and other journals, edited volumes, and collections. Current research includes preparation of several book manuscripts:States out of Nature: The Legislative Founding of Democracies and The Material Construction of Courage: The Political Economy of Violence in the American South, 1865-1900. The latter project combines long-standing but somewhat disparate interests in political economy (e.g., the material production and dissemination of information) and political culture (e.g., individual perceptions of social reality), as well as macro-level political and economic systems (e.g., national economic networks and federal administration) as they interact with micro-level behavior (e.g., individual risk-taking and collective action). The processes that he investigates have many parallels in contemporary politics, ranging from the Vietnam War (e.g., the importance of the spatial distribution of information to the slow but inexorable expansion of territory controlled by the Viet Cong and the NKVD) to present-day Iraq (e.g., voting as risk-taking in the presence of an occupying army) to decisions made by individual migrants whether or not to attempt illegal entry into the United States.

Dept. Phone: 607-255-6763
Dept. Office: 312 White Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853