Laurel Daen

Laurel Daen

Assistant Professor

Flanner Hall 1039

Research Interests

  • 18th and 19th Century America
  • Disability, Health, and Medicine
  • Women and Gender

Laurel Daen is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame with concurrent appointments in Gender Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and Health, Humanities, and Society. Her research and teaching focus on disability, medicine, and health in America, primarily during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Laurel’s first book project, Capacity for Citizenship: Disability, Rights, and Resistance in the Early United States, documents the ableism at the nation’s roots. In the decades after the American Revolution, disabled people were barred from the most basic civil rights—voting, marriage, property ownership, and more—rendering them second-class citizens. Medicine became an increasingly powerful justification for these restrictions towards the mid-nineteenth century as physicians gained positions of authority in courts, institutions, and government offices. This history of structural ableism, however, is coupled by an equally powerful story of resistance. The book reveals how disabled Americans contested the discrimination they faced, claiming over and again their capacity for citizenship.

This project has received generous support, including two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and a recent National Library of Medicine Grant for Scholarly Works in Biomedicine and Health from the National Institutes of Health. Capacity for Citizenship is set to be published as part of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s series at the University of North Carolina Press. Laurel’s research has also been featured in scholarly journals, including Technology and Culture, Journal of Social History, Early American Literature, History Compass, and Journal of the Early Republic. Her article in the latter publication won the Outstanding Article and Book Chapter Award from the Disability History Association in 2018.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Laurel held postdoctoral fellowships at the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. She received her Ph.D. from William & Mary, the nation’s top-ranked program for U.S. colonial history. While at William & Mary, Laurel received the Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the John E. Selby Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction.


CV Download