Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History
James G. Basker came to Barnard College in 1987, having taught at Harvard University for seven years. He began teaching in the Columbia University graduate school in 1990. Since 1997, he has been President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, a nonprofit organization that provides training and resources to teachers and students nationwide. He is also the founder and President of Oxbridge Academic Programs, which has conducted summer schools and teacher seminars in Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and other venues for more than 25 years.
Professor Basker is a specialist in the eighteenth century whose interests span the fields of history and literature, including the Black Atlantic and the history of slavery and abolition, the life and works of Samuel Johnson, print culture, and women writers. His publications include Tobias Smollett, Critic and Journalist (1988, winner of a 1989 Choice Award); Tradition in Transition: Women Writers, Marginal Texts, and the Eighteenth-Century Canon, ed. with Alvaro Ribeiro, S.J. (1996); Samuel Johnson in the Mind of Thomas Jefferson (1999); a modern edition of The Critical Review, or Annals of Literature 1756-1763 (2002); Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery 1660-1810 (2002); American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation (2012), published by the Library of America; and a scholarly edition of Tobias Smollett’s The Adventures of Roderick Random (2012). A former Rhodes Scholar and recipient of NEH grants, he has been awarded fellowships at the American Antiquarian Society, Yale University, and Cambridge University. He is on the Editorial Board of The Age of Johnson and is an elected fellow of the Pierpont Morgan Library and the Society of American Historians. He is currently working on a book about Johnson, Boswell, and the problem of slavery and editing a collection of African American writings from the period 1760-1826.
Anglo-American history & literature
Slavery, resistance, & abolition
Samuel Johnson and his circle
The Adventures of Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett, co-editor with Paul-Gabriel Boucé and Nicole A. Seary (
American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation, editor (
Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings 1760-1820, editor (
Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery 1660-1810, editor (
The Critical Review, or Annals of Literature 1756-1763. A Modern Edition, editor (
Samuel Johnson in the Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville: The Johnsonians, 1999)
Tradition in Transition: Women Writers, Marginal Texts, and the Eighteenth-Century Canon, co-editor with Alvaro Ribeiro, S.J. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)
Tobias Smollett, Critic and Journalist (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1988). Winner of a 1989 Choice Award.
(on leave fall 2015)
D.Phil., Oxford University
M.A., Cambridge University
A.B., Harvard University
In the News
American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation compiles fiction, non-fiction, poems, sermons, plays, children’s books, and more.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History receives the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama.