Department ofHistory

Nathan Earle

Nathan Earle

108 Weaver Builidng

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-1367


BA (History) University of South Carolina Upstate, 2001
JD (Law) University of Tennessee, 2005
MA (History) Clemson University, 2018


After over a decade as an attorney in private practice, I came to Penn State to indulge my passion for understanding the  ideas, events, and personalities, good and bad, that shaped the modern world. I am particularly interested in problematizing culturally embedded assumptions about legislative authority, social normativity, and political legitimacy, by examining the antecedents of contemporary substantive and procedural rules, norms, and customs during the early modern period–an era in which the contours of “law” are at once recognizable and yet strangely unfamiliar to modern eyes. My dissertation, tentatively entitled, Legal Pluralism in England, Spain, and Their Imperial Peripheries, 1500-1650: A Study in Contrasts, will contribute to the field of early modern global history by analyzing divergent approaches to the problem of legal identity adopted by the nascent Spanish empire in Mexico and the Philippines on one hand, and by the emerging English empire in Ireland and Wales on the other. I am broadly interested in understanding ways in which legislation and legal theory (law on paper) interact with social expectations and legal administration (law in practice) to produce distinct normative environments. However, my study of societies and the legal institutions they produce is guided not by superimposed preconceptions about how individuals should be expected to behave as members of groups, large or small, but by a concern to evaluate individuals as autonomous historical actors whose personal life choices continue to ripple across the sea of time.