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John Demos

John Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of History at Yale University, where he has taught since 1986. He is a social historian of early America whose most recent work, Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America (Harvard University Press, 2004), is an illuminating portrait of how colonial Americans, from the first settlers to the postrevolutionary generation, viewed their life experiences. During his fellowship year, Demos will be part of a humanities cluster that will explore the promise and perils of biography as a mode for understanding the past. He will be working on a book titled “The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic,” which will trace the spectacular rise and fall of the Foreign Mission School, founded in Connecticut in 1817 explicitly to "save the world." Demos received his MA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961. Among his publications are The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (Knopf, 1994), which received the Francis Parkman and Ray Allen Billington prizes in American history and was a finalist for the National Book Award in general nonfiction, and Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (Oxford University Press, 1982), for which he received the Bancroft Prize in American History.