The Academic Trajectory of Natalie Zemon Davis From 1955 to 2019
This is a historiographical examination of Natalie Zemon Davis and her contribution to historical writing over the course of her academic career. I examine Davis’ body of work from her first published article as a graduate student in 1955 to her latest publication in 2019. Accompanying the examination of Davis’ trajectory as a scholar, this thesis will also include many moments of her personal life: her Jewish upbringing, marrying young, the seizure of her passport during the ‘Red Scare,’ political and social activism, and motherhood. These moments in Davis’ personal life influenced the scope and the subjects of her writing, and this correlation will be evident as this thesis moves throughout each decade of her life. In addition to her academic and private life, I place Davis within a broader context of the trends and transitions within the discipline of history itself, with a primary focus on the rise of social, women’s, cultural, and global history. This thesis closely follows the journey of how Davis began as a social historian of the printing industry, and of sixteenth-century Lyon, to an interdisciplinary scholar who is currently investigating Jewish slave ownership on the plantations of colonial Suriname.