Photo of Kenneth Owen
Associate Dean Classification
Associate Prof.
Area of Specialization

American Political Movements

Political and Constitutional History

Office Location
UHB 3050
Phone Number

I’m Kenneth Owen, Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois Springfield. I moved to the prairie in 2012, having previously taught at Ohio University and the University of Sussex. I completed my education at the University of Oxford, where I was awarded BA, MSt and DPhil degrees.

My research focuses on the political history of the early American republic. My book, Political Community in Revolutionary Pennsylvania, 1774-1800 was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. My book challenges existing historiography on the American Revolution, emphasizing the role of ordinary citizens in forcing political change, and arguing that it was this control of politics by the people that formed the revolutionary generation’s central understanding of the new republic they had created. The book illustrates the importance of popular politics and democratic political practice in the establishment of the American federal system of government

I teach a variety of courses, from lower-level surveys through upper-level seminars to graduate research classes.

My current research project is on the long history of secession movements in America - from the states of Franklin and Vermont in the late 18th century to modern movements such as Calexit, or the Alaskan Independence Party. I am investigating why threats of secession have been deployed so frequently as a political tactic in the United States,

In addition to my interests in early American history, I have developed courses and projects in digital and public history. My History and Digital Media class has helped organize four History Harvest projects since 2016 - creating a digital archive of historical artifacts brought in for scanning and photographing by members of the public. I was a founding member of The Junto, a group blog on early American history, and co-creator and host of The JuntoCast, a podcast covering topics related to early American history. I also co-convene the Missouri Research Seminar on Early American History, organized by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.


American Revolution

Early American Republic

Political Mobilization

Secession Movements


Colonial and Revolutionary American History

American Political History

Sports and US History

History and Digital Media

Editorial Boards

Kenneth Owen, Minority Rule Cannot Last In America, The Atlantic, Dec 2, 2020 -…