Steven Watts

Steven Watts
Professor Emeritus
Research Area
American intellectual and cultural history

B. A. University of Missouri, 1975
M.A. University of Virginia, 1978
Ph.D. University of Missouri, 1984


Professor Watts specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of the United States. He has published articles and essays in the American Quarterly, Journal of American HistoryJournal of the Early Republic, and American StudiesThe Republic Reborn won the annual book prize from the National Historical Society and was runner-up for the best book award from the American Studies Association while The Magic Kingdom was reviewed in major media venues throughout the country, including the New York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles TimesThe New RepublicThe Nation, and Commentary. His work on Walt Disney led to appearances on a CBS/Time Magazine documentary, "Makers of the Twentieth Century," while his expertise on Henry Ford produced an appearance on an NBC/CNBC documentary entitled "Money and Power." His latest work is a biography of Hugh Hefner: Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream.

Professor Watts was elected department chair in spring, 2000 and re-elected in 2003, serving until 2005.

Courses Taught

The Republic Reborn: War and the Making of Liberal America, 1790-1820 (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987).

The Romance of Real Life: Charles Brockden Brown and the Origins of American Culture (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1994).

The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century (Knopf, 2005).

Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream (Wiley, 2008).

Recent Publications

Professor Watts teaches the survey of American History, upper-division courses on American cultural history, and graduate seminars in historiography and cultural history. He has won two prestigious teaching prizes at the University of Missouri-Columbia: The Provost's Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award (1988) and The William T. Kemper Teaching Award (1995).