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John R. Gillis is Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers University.

Gillis in 2010


Gillis received his B.A. from Amherst College and a Ph.D. from Stanford University under the direction of Gordon A. Craig.[citation needed]


Gillis is married to Christina Mardsen Gillis, author of Writing on Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life.[1]

Academic workEdit

Gillis' early work was largely in social and cultural history. He began as a German historian, moved to British history, and then to age relations, marriage, memory, and the cultures of European and American family life. He later moved on to global history, with an emphasis on cultural geography and environmental history.

In 2004 he published Islands of the Mind, on the role played by islands in the economic, political, and social dimensions of Atlantic world and the way the myths, images, and narratives of islands function for mainland cultures.

Gillis subsequently began studying the history and geography of coasts and coastal peoples. In his 2012 book The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History, he begins with the first humans to approach the shore, tracing coastal migrations around the world, and discussing the ways that coasts and coastal people have figured in globalization over several centuries. The book concludes with an assessment of the current crisis of coasts when faced with the effects of climate change, treating coasts as an ecotone that encompasses both land and water. The book was published by the University of Chicago Press.[2]

Gillis retired from Rutgers University in 2005 and since that time has lived in Berkeley, California while spending summers on Great Gott Island, off Acadia National Park in Maine. There he is involved with the Island Institute, in Rockland, Maine. He has published six books and edited four others.

Academic advisingEdit

Gillis was an active and highly respected doctoral adviser, steering eleven students to their PhDs at Rutgers.[3] These former advisees include:

  • Laura Tabili, Black workers in imperial Britain, 1914-1945 (1988) [4]
  • Kelly Boyd, "Wait till I'm a man": Ideals of manliness in British boys' story papers, 1855-1940 (1991)[5]
  • Deborah S Cornelius, In search of the nation: The new generation of Hungarian youth in Czechoslovakia, 1925-1931 (1994)[6]
  • Tammy Proctor, Gender, generation, and the politics of guiding and scouting in interwar Britain (1995)[7]
  • Benjamin Lammers, A superior kind of English: Jewish ethnicity and English identity in London's East End, 1905-1939 (1997)[8]
  • Victoria Smith, Constructing Victoria: The representation of Queen Victoria in England, India, and Canada, 1897-1914 (1998)[9]
  • Patrick McDevitt, May the best man win: Sport, masculinity and nationalism in Great Britain and the Empire, 1884-1933 (1999)[10]
  • Maritha Rene Burmeister, Popular anatomical museums in nineteenth-century England (2000) [11]
  • Charles Upchurch, '...and every solicitation, persuasion, promise, or threat': The regulation of male same-sex desire in London, 1820 to 1870 (2003) [12]
  • Lia Paradis, Return ticket: The Anglo-Sudanese and the negotiation of identity, 1920—1965 (2004) [13]
  • Lisa Kazmier, A modern landscape: The British way of death in the age of cremation (2005)[14]

Professional affiliationsEdit

Gillis is a current member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Family History and Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, and a past editorial board member of the Journal of Modern History. He has taught at Princeton University and the University of California at Berkeley, has been a visiting fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford, and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University.

He is a member of the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, and the World History Association. He was the former national co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families.



  • The Human Shore:Seacoasts in History (2012) ISBN 978-0226922232
  • Islands of the Mind: How the Human Imagination Created the Atlantic World (2004) ISBN 978-1403965066
  • The Prussian Bureaucracy in Crisis, 1840-60 (Stanford, 1971) ISBN 978-0804707565
  • Youth and History: Tradition and Change in European Age Relations, 1750-Present (Academic, 1975) ISBN 978-0127852621; Japanese Edition 日本語版 ギリス著(北本正章訳)『若者の社会史――ヨーロッパにおける家族と年齢集団の変貌』(新曜社,1985 )
  • Development of European Society, 1770-1870 (Houghton Mifflin, 1977)
  • For Better, For Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the present (Oxford, 1985) ISBN 978-0195036145; Japanese Edition 日本語版 ギリス著(北本正章訳)『結婚観の歴史人類学――近代イギリスの・1600年~現代』(勁草書房,2006)
  • A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (Basic, 1996) ISBN 978-0465054145


  • The Militarization of the Western World (Rutgers 1989)
  • The European Experience of Declining Fertility, with D. Levine and L. Tilly (Blackwell, 1992)
  • Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity (Princeton, 1996)
  • Becoming Historians, with James M. Banner, Jr. (University of Chicago, 2009) ISBN 978-0-226-03658-8

Awards and recognitionEdit


  1. ^ "Writing on Stone Scenes from a Maine Island Life".
  2. ^ Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, "The Coastal Consciousness of John Gillis" The Chronicle of Higher Education July 29, 2013 The Chronicle Review
  3. ^ "ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text Database". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ "Laura Tabili".
  5. ^ "Kelly Boyd".
  6. ^ "Deborah Cornelius".
  7. ^ "Tammy Proctor". Archived from the original on 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2015-03-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "Benjamin Lammers". Archived from the original on 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2015-03-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text Database". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ "Patrick McDevitt". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ "ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text Database". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  12. ^ "Charles Upchurch".
  13. ^ "Lia Paradis". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ "ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text Database". Missing or empty |url= (help)

External linksEdit