Our Faculty and Staff

Claire Rydell Arcenas

Associate Professor of History


LA 261
Office Hours

Fall 2023: Wednesdays 1-3pm and by appointment.

Personal Summary

Claire Arcenas is an American historian, author, and award-winning teacher. She has particular interests in transatlantic intellectual, cultural, and political exchange between the late seventeenth and the mid twentieth centuries. Her first book, America's Philosopher: John Locke in American Intellectual Life (University of Chicago Press, 2022; paperback forthcoming 2023), investigates the influence of the seventeenth-century English philosopher John Locke on American thought and culture over the last three hundred years. Professor Arcenas is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. In 2023, she was awarded the Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award. She is currently at work on several projects that explore the transatlantic history of utilitarianism; the history of crises in the humanities; and interpretations of the American founding documents from the late eighteenth century until today. 

At the University of Montana, Professor Arcenas teaches courses on a range of topics in American history and historical methodology at both the undergraduate and graduate level. She also advises MA and PhD students whose projects explore topics related to American political, intellectual, and cultural history across a broad chronology. If you are interested in graduate studies in history at UM, please contact her via e-mail.


PhD, Stanford University, 2016

MA, Stanford University, 2013

BA, University of Wisconsin, 2010

Courses Taught

HSTA 101 American History I
HSTA 103 Honors American History I
HSTR 200 Introduction to Historical Methods
HSTA 275 Making History Public

HSTA 307Y American Revolution and Founding Era

HSTA 325 Digital Worlds of Early America - Intermediate Writing Course

HSTA 373 The History of American Thought to 1865 - Intermediate Writing Course

HSTA 427 Freedom, Slavery, Equality - Advanced Writing Course

HSTA 501 Graduate Readings in Early American History

HSTA 575 Graduate Seminar in Public History

Field of Study

American History; Intellectual History; History of Political Thought and Politics; History of Education; History of the Atlantic World; Historiography; Digital Humanities.

Selected Publications

Claire Rydell Arcenas, America's Philosopher: John Locke in American Intellectual Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022; paperback forthcoming, 2023)


Claire Rydell Arcenas, America's Philosopher: John Locke in American Intellectual Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Claire Rydell Arcenas, “On the Purpose of Humanities Education: A Historical Perspective from the Mid-Twentieth-Century United States,” in Writing the History of the Humanities, ed. Herman Paul (Bloomsbury, 2023).

Claire Rydell Arcenas, “Justifying an Energetic Executive: Theory and Practice in The Federalist,” in Political Thought and the Origins of the American Presidency, ed. Ben Lowe (University Press of Florida, 2021).

Claire Rydell Arcenas, “How to Write about Influence: Assessing Edmund Burke’s Conservative Legacies,” The Historical Journal 63 no. 2 (March 2020): 495-505, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X19000347.