Charles R. Perry
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History
A.B., Davidson College; A.M., Ph.D., Harvard University
A member of the History Department since 1974, Charles Perry's teaching and research have focused on British history. In addition to offering a survey of British history, he has taught seminars ranging from the Tudor period to the twentieth century. Most recently he has developed a new course, English Identities, which through the study of the lives of individuals ranging from Thomas Becket to Mary Seacole considers the role of human agency in the context of larger cultural and societal restraints.
The Royal Historical Society published Perry's book The Victorian Post Office: the Growth of a Bureaucracy, which examined what was the largest business in Britain as a case study in nationalization and government expansion. In more than a dozen articles (including one which was later translated into French for republication), he has addressed topics ranging from the social impact of the telephone to H.V. Morton the travel writer. Perry's scholarly work has been supported by, among other institutions, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and in 2004 he was awarded the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship.
Perry believes that historians have an obligation to support their discipline through work in professional organizations. Accordingly, he has been president of two regional groups promoting British Studies, and he served a two-year term on Council of the North American Conference on British Studies. He is currently a member of the executive board of the Southern Conference on British Studies.
He enjoys the opportunity to mentor students and draws some satisfaction from the fact that six of his Sewanee students have gone on to write important historical books.