Photo of Ryan PoeI am a PhD candidate at Duke University, admitted in 2010. I am in the History program working with Laura Edwards, Nancy MacLean, and Jedediah Purdy (at Duke Law). My research is on property law and social order in post-emancipation Virginia. For more information on me and my research interests, see my About Me page, or explore my Preliminary Exam Portfolio.

You can reach me at rmp23@duke.edu and baublet@gmail.com.


The End of Reconstruction

My latest entry for the American Yawp project details the political defeat of Reconstruction, North and South. Long story short: its revolutionary goals were killed early, then Democrats only had to wait it out--a wait accelerated by economic downturn. Read more...

Thoughts & Quotations

  • Gary Younge on the Trayvon Martin Decision

    Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible.

    Gary Younge, The Guardian
  • Bruce Schneier on News

    By definition, news is something that almost never happens. The brain fools you into thinking the news is what’s important. Our brains overreact to this stuff.

    Bruce Schneier, The Washington Post
  • What is Law?

    To me, law is a contested space through which everyday disputes over legal meaning, procedure, and content are performed. Law, then, becomes a space by which law itself is juxtaposed or brought into line with other means of ordering society (such as tradition, or parochial norms). Law is an institution that is many things to many people at once, but its purpose is to organize society in a certain, presumably mutually beneficial way. This organizational aspect imbues it and the people who are able to make claims on and shape it much social power.

  • Food and Appeals to Nature

    Why do many intelligent people appeal to nature with their food choices, yet rightfully criticize biological determinists in the next breath without realizing that these views are incompatible? Removing food dyes from your boxed macaroni & cheese doesn’t make it any less unhealthy.

  • Gregory Alexander on History, Heterodoxy, and the Future

    Americans often assume that their cultural symbols have a single historical tradition, only one tradition. That assumption allows ideological constituencies to lay claim to these symbols as privileging their own particular political visions for the future. The historical reality behind our greatest cultural symbols, however, is seldom that neat.

    Gregory S. Alexander, Commodity & Propriety, p. 16.
  • Academic Writing

    Academic writing emphasizes an insidious, anti-democratic professionalism that is not only antiquated, but may be one of the least effective ways of communicating in the twenty-first century. Yet we are trained to jealously guard the line between formal and informal writing to safeguard our monopoly on placid prose and to continue our general irrelevancy.

  • The Individualist Delusion

    Individualism is a delusion by a fundamentally social, mutually-constituted species (humanity) in a tragic effort to assert an unreasonable amount of agency and genius upon their own actions and thoughts.

  • Pluralist Centrism

    Pluralist centrism has been one of the Right’s most invaluable tools in allowing their repeatedly debunked nonsense to continually become national crises. The notion that “all ideas are equally worthy of consideration” allows one person’s rash, bigoted idea to stand equally with another’s well-reasoned, nuanced one.