Ben Mutschler's research and teaching interests include Colonial and Revolutionary America, the history of family and household, the history of poverty and welfare, the history of disease, and most recently the history of disability.
After graduating from Harvard College in 1988, Mutschler played music professionally in and around the Boston area before returning to graduate school to study history at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2000. In addition to teaching courses on colonial and Revolutionary America and on the history of disease at OSU, Ben has been visiting assistant professor of History at the College of William and Mary, where he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
His first book, The Province of Affliction: Illness in Eighteenth-Century New England, is forthcoming from the Omohundro Institute Press (in collaboration with University of North Carolina Press). The book explores illness in everyday life in early New England; the way it shaped families, households, and neighborhoods; and the manner in which the burdens of living in a world of high morbidity became central to matters of local, state, and finally national governance. The project has been supported by several short-term fellowships at archives throughout New England and long-term fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Omohundro Institute. A portion of the work has appeared most recently in Mark Jenner and Patrick Wallis, eds., Medicine and the Market in England and Its Colonies, c. 1450-1850 (London, 2007).
Mutschler’s new project explores the ways in which discussions of citizenship in the era of the American Revolution engaged questions of ability and disability. What qualities of body, mind, and temperament separated the monarchical subject from the new republican citizen? He is developing two courses that will dovetail with the new work: a course on the history of disability in America from the colonial period through the present; and a course on the origins of the Federal Constitution and the remarkable year of “Great National Discussion” that led to its ratification.