Jason Duncan
Professor of History
Phone: 
(616) 632-2837
Office: 
H 305

Biography

Jason K. Duncan was born in Albany, New York, and educated in Catholic schools in that city. He graduated in 1985 from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, a college originally in the Universalist tradition, with a B.A. in Government. He later earned an M.A. in Russian Area Studies from Georgetown University, writing his Master’s Essay on “Martin Luther King, Jr. Through Soviet Eyes.” He then worked in politics, including three years as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. to U.S. Representative Tom Sawyer of Ohio.

Professor Duncan went on to earn his Ph.D. in American History from the University of Iowa in 1999, writing a dissertation entitled “A Most Democratic Class: New York Catholics and the Early American Republic.” In 2002, he joined the faculty at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is currently Professor of History. He teaches classes in American and Russian History, and has twice served as co-director of the college’s semester program in Ireland, where he taught Irish History.

Professor Duncan has presented academic papers at venues such as the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the Society for United States Intellectual History. He has also given invited lectures at the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

In November 2013, Routledge University Press published his most recent book, John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism. His first book, Citizens or Papists? The Politics of Anti-Catholicism in New York, 1685-1821, was published by Fordham University Press in 2005. His current research is on Martin Van Buren and the Catholic question in American politics from 1815-1840.

Professor Duncan recently reviewed two books ,Being Nixon: A Man Divided and The Nixon Effect: How Richard Nixon's Presidency Fundamentally Changed American Politics, in the article "America's Own Richard II," which was published onReal Clear Bookson May 26, 2016.

Professor Duncan has also signed a contract to write the following book: The Little Magician’s Greatest Trick: Martin Van Buren and the Winning of the Presidency, 1836, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, American Presidential Elections Series.

Professor Duncan lives in Grand Rapids with his wife Amy, and their sons, Leo and Jack.

Selected Conference Papers and Invited Lectures

  • “Reading John F. Kennedy’s Cold War: The Books that Shaped JFK’s Foreign Policy” Society for U.S. Intellectual History Conference, October 2014, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • “John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism:” A Conversation with Gleaves Whitney, Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 2014.
  • "John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism," Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, December 2013.
  • “Postcolonial New York, a Catholic Minority and Emerging Jurisprudence,” Panel at Religious Freedom in America, 1813-2013: Bicentennial Reflections on People v. Phillips, New York University, New York, New York, April 2013.
  • "Rethinking Kennedy 50 Years After Dallas: JFK and the Irish Catholic Political Tradition" Symposium on Religion and Politics, Paul Henry Institute, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 2013.
  • "Catholics and Their Unknown American Revolution," American Catholic Historical Association, Princeton, New Jersey, March 2010.
  • Southern Influence and African Slavery:” Martin Van Buren, Party Building, and the Legacy of the Missouri Crisis, 1819-1836,” A Fire Bell in the Past: The Missouri Crisis at 200, University of Missouri, Columbia Missouri, February 2019.
  • “Plain Catholics of the North: Martin Van Buren and Religion in the Making of the Democratic Party,” 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Cleveland, Ohio, July 2018.
  • “Reconsidering Martin Van Buren’s Victory, 1836,” 2nd Annual Conference on American Political History, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pa., June 2018.
  • “Pope Martin I: Catholics and the Making of the Democratic Party, 1815-1841,” American Catholic Historical Association/American Historical Association, Washington, D.C., January 2018.
  • “The Privileges of the Humblest Individual:” Martin Van Buren and Religious Minorities in the United States, 1812-1840,” Henry Institute Symposium on Religion and Public Life, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 2017.

Education

  • Ph.D., University of Iowa
  • M.A., Georgetown University
  • B.A., St. Lawrence University

Publications

  • "How Hamilton Defended the Rights of Catholics in a Young America" AmericaMagazine.org Oct. 26, 2016
  • John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism (New York: Routledge University Press, 2014)
  • Citizens or Papists?: The Politics of Anti-Catholicism in New York, 1685 - 1821, New York: Fordham University Press, 2005.
  • Plain Catholic of the North: Martin Van Buren and religion in the Making of the Democratic Party
  • "John F. Kennedy and the Irish Catholic Political Tradition," The Forum 12, no. 1, article 8 (2014).
  • “The Great Chain of National Union: Catholics and the Republican Triumph,” Working Papers Series/Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism (University of Notre Dame, 2002).
  • “What Does Russia’s Resurgence Mean for the United States?” Grand Rapids Press/MLive May 12, 2014
  • "What JFK Still Teaches Us" DetroitNews.com November 22, 2013
  • “A New Leader for a New Generation” in Kennedy: His Life and Legacy (I-5 Publishing, Fall 2013).
  • The Nixon Effect: How Richard Nixon's Presidency Fundamentally Changes American Politics, by Douglas Shoen, The University Bookman,
  • Being Nixon: A Man Divided, by Evan Thomas, The University Bookman
  • Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, 1574-1783, by Robert Emmett Curran, The Catholic Historical Review, Summer 2015, Vol. 101, No. 3.
  • On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller, by Richard Norton Smith, The University Bookman, Summer 2015.
  • A Brief History of the Cold War, by Lee Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding, The University Bookman, Winter 2015.
  • Review of Katie Oxx, The Nativist Movement in America: Religious Conflict in the Nineteenth Century in American Catholic Studies (Winter 2013).
  • Review of Being Nixon: A Man Divided and The Nixon Effect: How Richard Nixon's Presidency Fundamentally Changed American Politics, in the article "America's Own Richard II," which was published on Real Clear Books on May 26, 2016.
  • Review of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, by Larry Tye, The University Bookman, Spring 2017, posted on Real Clear Books.com, May 2017.

Past Experiences

  • Visiting Scholar, Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, Mecosta, Michigan, Fall 2014
  • Seminar on The Creation of the Modern American City, Newberry Library, Sponsored by the Council of Independent College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois, June 2014.
  • Visiting Scholar, Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 2013
  • Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and Arts - "Teaching Peace and Reconciliation" Theory and Practice in Northern Ireland" County Antrim, Northern Ireland, July 2012

Documents