Jennifer Burns

Jennifer Burns

Assistant Professor of History
University of Virginia

Jennifer Burns is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where she teaches courses on American political, cultural, and intellectual history. She graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude majoring in History, and received her Masters and PhD in History from the University of California at Berkeley.

Professor Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press, 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher.  Based on exclusive access to Rand’s personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand’s unedited letters and journals.  It has been favorably reviewed by numerous publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, and the New Yorker.

A popular guest on radio and television programs, Professor Burns has been interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-Span’s Book TV, NPR’s Weekend America, and Here & Now.  She has also written articles for Harvard Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and several academic journals.

Professor Burns also enjoys speaking before academic and professional organizations.  She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the Cato Institute.

In 2010, Jennifer Burns was named a “Top Young Historian” by the History News Network and selected as a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

Podcast lectures for Professor Burns’ course, Introduction to U.S. History from 1865, are available on iTunes and have attracted an appreciative worldwide audience.  She maintains a blog and website at


Do you want to live in the world of Atlas Shrugged?

In her masterpiece of fiction, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand emphasizes three key classical liberal themes: individualism, suspicion of centralized power, and the importance of free markets. In this video, Prof.…

Ayn Rand: A Leading Lady of Classical Liberalism

How should we understand Ayn Rand’s political thought?  Prof. Jennifer Burns argues that Rand was a part of the broad classical liberal tradition. Rand’s novels, including Atlas Shrugged and The…