Thomas Blake Earle

Assistant Professor
Department of Liberal Studies

Thomas Blake Earle

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for...destruction."

– Rachel Carson

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Get To Know Thomas Blake Earle

What in your life drew you to your current field of study?

Curiosity and the desire to understand why the world is the way it is. This question is particularly relevant to understanding the relationship between humans and the environment. Much of my curiosity is driven by this relationship and exploring how humans have despoiled and preserved, exploited and revered the environment around us.

What do you hope your students gain from studying or working with you?

My highest hope is that through learning the content of American history, both the shining examples of good and frequent examples of ill, students emerge more empathetic and understanding of the struggles that define this history. By recognizing that history is a contested process and that things can change, students recognize that they are themselves historical actors. While we live in a world made by the past, the future can be shaped, to whatever small degree, by our decisions and aspirations.

What are you passionate about in your personal life?

Being outside – hiking, camping, backpacking. I love exploring the natural world from the sublime to the mundane. I also dig eating, cooking, and building furniture.


Ph.D., History, Rice University, 2017
M.A., History, Rice University, 2013
B.A., History and Geography, University of Texas at Austin, 2011

Courses Taught

HIST 232 History of American Sea Power
HIST 242 US Maritime History 


Co-editor with D. Andrew Johnson, Atlantic Environments and the American South: An Anthology (University of Georgia Press, 2020)

Review of Carmel Finley, All the Boats on the Ocean: How Government Subsidies Led to Global Overfishing, in Contingent Magazine (May 1, 2019).

“Transatlantic Diplomacy, North Atlantic Environments, and the Fisheries Dispute of 1852,” Environmental History 23, no. 4 (October 2018), 774–796.

Review of Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy, in Southern Spaces (April 25, 2018).

“For Cod and Country: Cod Fishermen and the Atlantic Dimensions of Sectionalism in Antebellum America,” Journal of the Early Republic 36, no. 3 (Fall 2016), 493–519.


“Fisheries and Environmental Administration along the Fringes of Empire: The United States and Great Britain in the North Atlantic,” Global Environmental Borderlands in the Age of Empire, SMU Taos, October 11-13, 2019

“Naval Power and the Creation of the American Empire,” Presidents at War: A Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar, SMU, June 24, 2019

“North Atlantic Cod Fishermen and the Case for Independence at the Paris Peace Negotiation,” Omohundro Institute Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 13-16, 2019

“The United States Fisheries Commission and the Transformation of Fishery Politics,” Southern Forum on Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History (SFARE) Annual Meeting, Wichita Falls, Texas, April 26-27, 2019

“Fishing for American Manhood: How Gender Shaped Fishery Politics in Nineteenth Century America,” Humanities and Social Science Speaker Series, Rice University, Houston, Texas, April 15-16, 2016

“Diplomatic Fisheries: Fishermen, North Atlantic Diplomacy, and the Creation of the Convention of 1818,” Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, Arlington, Virginia, June 25-27, 2015

“Diplomacy in the North Atlantic: Fishermen, Fisheries, and the American Nation-Building Project,” American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., March 18-22, 2015

“‘The Very Nurseries of Our Navy’: Fishermen and Fisheries in American Politics and Diplomacy,” Northeast-Atlantic Canada Environmental History Forum, Prince Edward Island, Canada, August 1-2, 2014

Contact Info

Thomas Blake Earle
Assistant Professor
Department of Liberal Studies
Phone: +1 (409) 7404-4524

Classroom Lab Building (CLB), Office 208