Nick Yablon received his B.A. in history from the University of Birmingham (England) and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, and is currently associate professor of History (and American Studies) at the University of Iowa.
His area of expertise is 19th and early 20th century US cultural history, with a research focus on urban history, memory and monument studies, the built environment, material culture, visual culture (especially photography), technology, business history/fiction, disaster studies, and the changing experiences of space and time in modernity.
His first book, Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819-1919 (University of Chicago Press, 2009) examines how a new poetics of the ruin emerged out of the spatio-temporal disruptions of American cities. Recovering numerous scenes of desolation—from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons—Untimely Ruins exposes crucial debates about the economic, technological, and cultural transformations known as urban modernity.
In his second book, Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule and the Politics of Posterity (University of Chicago Press, spring 2019), he explores the ideas, hopes, and anxieties that prompted Americans in the Gilded Age and Progressive era to forge this new memorial practice of dispatching messages and artifacts to a predetermined future date via some kind of sealed container.
Nick’s third book explores the intersections between urban photography, historic preservation, and urban archaeology in Progressive-era New York. A portion of this book has appeared in the Journal of Urban History as “‘A Curious Epitome of the Life of the City”: New York, Broadway, and the Evolution of the Longitudinal View.”
He has also published essays in American Quarterly, American Literary History, Winterthur Portfolio, American Nineteenth Century History, American Art, and History of Photography, as well as chapters in edited collections such as the forthcoming Cultural History of Memory in the Nineteenth Century.
At University of Iowa, he teaches undergraduate seminars on the History of Time in America; American Disasters; American Business Cultures; American Cityscapes; American History Through Things; Fame and Celebrity in America; as well as the lecture course, Understanding American Cultures. His graduate seminars include: Theory and Practice of American Studies; Cultures of American Architecture; Money and American Culture; Temporality in American History; Monuments, Memorials, and Memory in America.