Christopher McKnight Nichols

Associate Scholar

20092010 Forum on Connections

Christopher McKnight Nichols

SAS Postdoctoral Fellows

From Empire to Isolation: Internationalism and Isolationism in American Thought

In my overall scholarly work I seek to understand how communities of thought develop over time and how ideas, especially those about foreign affairs and progressive reform, have intersected people’s lives and animated their actions. My new book project while at Penn, William James at War: Pragmatism, Empire, and Trans-Atlantic Anti-imperialism, will examine James’s anti-imperialist politics in depth and across borders. James at War centers on his developing political philosophy and explains the generally positive reception of his pragmatic political thought as part of a wider narrative and integral to the trans-Atlantic context of anti-imperialist politics from the 1870s through the 1910s. While previous studies of the movement have focused on individual nations, this paper’s major finding is to examine the wide reach of anti-colonial ideas by documenting how American and British anti-imperialists operated across nations and within a global framework for decolonization activism.