James V.H. Melton


Department of Spanish and Portuguese


Department of History

Office: Bowden 303 (History) and Callaway South 507 (Spanish and Portuguese)

Phone: (404) 727-4475 (History) and (404) 727-7945 (Spanish and Portuguese)

Email: jmelt01@emory.edu


James V.H. Melton, Professor (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1982; B.A. Vanderbilt University, 1974). Enlightenment Europe, Atlantic World, early modern German and Austrian History.

Author of Religion, Community, and Slavery on the Colonial Southern Frontier (Cambridge University Press, 2015), awarded the Austrian Studies Book Prize for the best book in the field published in 2014 and 2015; The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2001; Spanish ed. 2009; Turkish ed. 2011); Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria (Cambridge University Press, 1988), awarded the Best Book Prize by the Central European History Conference Group of the American Historical Association.  Co-editor, Pietism in Germany and North America, 1680-1820 (Ashgate Publishing, 2009); co-editor, Paths of Continuity: German Historical Scholarship from the 1920s to the 1960s (Cambridge University Press, 1994); co-translator of Otto Brunner, Land and Lordship: Structures of Governance in Medieval Austria (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992); and editor, Cultures of Communication from Reformation to Enlightenment: Constructing Publics in the Early Modern German Lands (Ashgate Publishing, 2002).
A past president of the Central European History Society (2012-13), he is a former chair of the Department of History (2001-03) and the Department of German Studies (2003-05).  His current project, “The Imperial Lives of Lorenzo Da Ponte,” grew out of a longstanding interest in Mozart and his cultural world.  The life of Da Ponte (1749-1838), Mozart’s librettist and collaborator, unfolded across the imperial metropoles of Venice, Vienna, London, and New York.  In following Da Ponte’s cultural odyssey from the Old World to the New, the project explores how this man on the move – and on the make – made sense of his life and of his world through a constant process of cultural adaptation and re-invention.

My Curriculum Vitae


  • BA, Vanderbilt University, 1974.
  • MA, University of Chicago, 1975.
  • PhD, University of Chicago, 1982.


  • Early Modern Central European History
  • Enlightenment Europe
  • Atlantic world

Current Graduate Students