• Julia Ott

    Associate Professor of History and Director of the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies

    Office Location:

    80 Fifth Avenue


    During my lifetime, American political culture has been distinguished by a pervasive belief that individual freedom is best guaranteed by freedom of the market. Over the course of the last forty years, the collective solutions that once nurtured the American middle class – including labor unions along with government and corporate-sponsored social provisions – drew increasing criticism for allegedly impeding the dynamic individualism of American capitalism. Government withdrew from social protection and provision. De-regulation and privatization swept across the domestic policy landscape. As a result, inequality increased.  And the well-being of American households was yoked ever more tightly to increasingly unregulated financial markets. These ideas, policies, and outcomes -- often labeled “neoliberalism” by scholars -- account, in part, for both the insurgency of Bernie Sanders and the shocking victory of Donald Trump. 

    The past offers tools for understanding our present circumstances. And, I believe, history can guide us in navigating the future, for making the choices that are necessary to create a fair and sustainable economy for all.

    As a scholar, teacher, editor, and public intellectual, I aim to advance critical histories of capitalism. At The New School, I serve the Co-Director of the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies. I engage non-academic audiences as a member of Scholar’s Committee for the New York at its Core exhibit at the City Museum of New York, a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, a consultant to documentary films, and by writing for outlets like Public Books, The Nation, Dissent, and Public Seminar. My media appearances include BBC, NPR, and C-SPAN, while my work has been featured in The New York Times, Chinese National Television, Radio OpenSource, Majority Report with Sam Seder, and Who Makes the Cents?

    One of my favorite aspects of academic life is lending my support to other scholars and writers. I am fortunate to do as a Senior Editor of Public Seminar and as a Co-Editor of the book series Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism published by Columbia University Press.

    Degrees Held:

    PhD 2007, Yale University

    Recent Publications:


    When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investors’ Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2011)


    “What Was the Great Bull Market? The Need to Historicize Valuation” in ed. Sven Beckert and Christine Desan, The New History of American Capitalism (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming)

    Occupied Wall Street Journal,” Museum of the City of New York, November 2016

    "Curious Beginnings of the Capital Gains Tax Preference” Fordham Law Review vol. 84 (2016), p.101-120, co-authored with Ajay Mehrotra

    Capitalism Studies: A Manifesto,” Public Seminar, April 17, 2014

    Slaves: The Capital That Made Capital,” Public Seminar, April 9, 2014

    "Solving the ‘Debt Question’,” New Labor Forum vol. 22 no. 1 (Spring 2013), co-authored with Louis Hyman

    “‘The Free and Open People’s Market’: Political Ideology and Retail Brokerage at the New York Stock Exchange, 1913-1933,” Journal of American History vol. 96 no. 1 (June 2009): 44-71.

    “When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investors’ Democracy and the Emergence of the Retail Investor in the United States, 1890-1930,” Enterprise and Society vol. 9 no. 4 (December 2008): 619-630.

    Research Interests:

    History of capitalism, 20th century American history, financial history, labor history, political conservatism, consumer culture, women's and gender history

    Awards And Honors:

    Faculty Opportunity Award, Eugene Lang College for the Liberal Arts, The New School, 2017

    Visiting Scholar, Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University, 2014-2016

    Grant Recipient, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on American Material Culture, Bard Graduate Center, July 2013

    Vincent DeSantis Prize for the Best Book on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 2013

    Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar, New York City, 2009-2010

    Interdisciplinary Seminar Grant, Tobin Project, 2009-2010

    Finalist, Krooss Prize for the Best Dissertation in Business History, Business History Conference, 2008

    Miller Center Fellowship in Contemporary History, Policy, and Politics, University of Virginia, 2005-06

    John E. Rovensky Fellowship in American Economic and Business History, 2004-05

    Whitebox Advisors Behavioral Finance Fellowship, Yale School of Management, 2004-05


    Current Courses:

    Global Histories of Capitalism

    Independent Study (Open Campus)

    Internship (Open Campus)

    Intro to Capitalism Studies

    Independent Study (Open Campus)

    Senior Thesis Seminar

    Ind Senior Project (Open Campus)

    Collaborative Senior Project (Open Campus)