Kristen Foster received her B.A. from Williams College and her Ph.D. in United States history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with specializations in both cultural/ intellectual history and the history of America’s early republic. Both college and university experiences continue to inform the way Foster approaches both her students and her scholarly inquiry. In her classrooms, Foster employs close readings of texts (literary and material) with lectures and lively conversation in hopes that students will arrive at the end with a better sense of themselves as active citizens at home and in the world. Foster's classes reflect her interests in dynamic historical moments that allow students to explore consensus, controversy, conflict, and their own questions. She teaches U.S. survey classes as well as classes on the American Revolution and the early republic, American women's history, American cultural and intellectual history, American history in a global context, and a course on the revolutionary Sixties at home.
As a cultural historian, Foster is particularly interested in questions of identity and power and the historical circumstances that shape, change, and influence their construction. While her first book: Moral Visions and Material Ambitions: Philadelphia Struggles to Define the Republic, 1776-1836 (2004) explored various constructions of meaning and identity in early national Philadelphia, her current book-length project is a complex exploration of the Haitian Revolution's impact on American ideas about equality and citizenship. While working on this larger project, she has also published on the relationships between race and citizenship, gender and citizenship, female education, and republican ideology. She has been with the history department since 2002 during which time she has won awards for teaching and advising excellence.