Texas Tech University

Abigail Swingen

Associate Professor
Early Modern Britain, British Imperial History, Political Economy, Early Modern Europe

Email: Abigail.Swingen@ttu.edu

Office: 418 Humanities 

Ph.D., University of Chicago

Dr. Swingen's research interests include the origins and consequences of England's Financial Revolution, the development of the British empire in the early modern period, ideas of political economy, labor, and slavery in the early modern world, and the development of early modern political culture, stereotypes, and disinformation. Her current book project, The Financial Revolution and the Politics of Moral Crisis in Early Modern Britainexplores the connections between the emergence of Britain as a financial capitalist economy, the development of public credit and the national debt, and the origins of the British empire in the early modern period. It focuses on the longer-term economic, political, and social changes in Britain and its empire that made a revolution in finance possible by the late-seventeenth century, as well as the political and cultural consequences of these changes, particularly how people understood the significance of these transformations. This project has received financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend Program (2017), the Huntington Library Travel Grants (2017), and the Scholar Catalyst Program from the Office of Research & Innovation at TTU (2015 and 2017).

Dr. Swingen's first book, Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire (Yale University Press, 2015), explores how English politics and ideas of political economy influenced the development of African slavery and other forms of coerced labor in England's West Indies colonies during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It won the Second Place President's Faculty Book Award at Texas Tech for 2017. In 2011-2012, she was a Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Fellow in residence at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. She has received many additional fellowships and awards, including the Frederick A. and Marion S. Pottle Fellowship in 18th-century British Studies from the Beinecke Library at Yale University, the University of Chicago Nicholson Center for British Studies Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the North American Conference on British Studies/Huntington Library Fellowship. She has presented at a variety of conferences and workshops in the U.S. and Europe, including the NACBS, Early Modern Studies Institute of the University of Southern California, the British Historical Studies Colloquium at Yale University, the University of Tubingen, the Institute of Historical Research in London, and the Empires and Atlantics Forum at the University of Chicago. She is a general editor for the Politics, Society and Culture in Early Modern Britain Series at Manchester University Press.

Dr. Swingen teaches courses in early modern British and European history, the Atlantic World, and Western Civilization at TTU. In 2014, she received the President's Excellence in Teaching Award from Texas Tech. She received her B.A. in history with honors from Swarthmore College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. From 2019-2021, she served as Associate Vice President for Research in the Office of Research & Innovation. She is a member of the 2022-23 Institute for Inclusive Excellence Cohort at the TLPDC.

Abigail Swingen

Select Publications

Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire

Competing Visions of empire, labor, slavery, British Atlantic Empire

Competing Visions of empire, labor, slavery, British Atlantic Empire. Abigail L. Swingen's insightful study provides a new framework for understanding the origins of the British empire while exploring how England's original imperial designs influenced contemporary English politics and debates about labor, economy, and overseas trade. Focusing on the ideological connections between the growth of unfree labor in the English colonies—particularly the use of enslaved Africans—and the development of British imperialism during the early modern period, the author examines the overlapping and often competing agendas of planters, merchants, privateers, colonial officials, and imperial authorities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Learn more at Yale Press.

Dr. Swingen has also published book chapters in the following volumes:

“Security, Stability, and Credit: The Hanoverian Succession and the Politics of the Financial Revolution,” in The Hanoverian Succession in Great Britain and its Empire, Brent S. Sirota and Allan I. Macinnes, eds., Boydell and Brewer Press, 2019.

“The Bubble and the Bail-Out: the South Sea Company, Jacobitism, and Public Credit in Early Hanoverian Britain,” in Boom, Bust, and Beyond: New Perspectives on the 1720 Stock Bubble, Stefano Condorelli and Daniel Menning, eds., DeGruyter Publishers, 2019.

“Labor: Employment, Colonial Servitude, and Slavery in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic” in Mercantilism Reimagined: Political Economy in Early Modern Britain and its Empire, Philip Stern and Carl Wennerlind, eds., Oxford University Press, 2013.