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Michelle Orihel - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Michelle Orihel Michelle Orihel

Associate Professor of History | Southern Utah University


Specializing in the history of American politics and media



Dr. Michelle Orihel is an associate professor of early American history at Southern Utah University. She often brings her research on politics and print culture into the classroom and uses contemporary popular culture like “Assassin’s Creed,” Disney’s “Pocahontas,” and “Hamilton: An American Musical” to generate students’ interest in the early American past.

Presently, she is writing a book about how the Democratic-Republican Societies, experimental political associations that formed in the mid-1790s, organized the first opposition movement to the national government in American history. In support of this research, she has received fellowships from the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and others. She has published articles on the memory of the English Revolution of the 1640s in "The Historian" and "The New England Quarterly."

Dr. Orihel earned a bachelor’s in history from Brock University, a master’s in British history from Queen’s University and a Ph.D. in early American history from Syracuse University. She teaches courses on the early American republic, the history of American journalism and the history of gender in early America.





Michelle Orihel teaching outdoors loading image Honors Seminar with Michelle Orihel loading image


michelle orihel history professor SUU: A Community of Caring Meet Our Professors: Michelle Orihel, History, Southern Utah University


Industry Expertise (4)

Writing and Editing Research Education/Learning Women

Areas of Expertise (10)

Early American Culture English Revolution Colonial America Opposition Politics Gender History Revolutionary America History Journalism History Women's History Political Associations

Accomplishments (3)

Outstanding Educator for Diversity and Inclusion

Southern Utah University

Outstanding Dissertation Award


Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Doctoral Prize


Syracuse University

Education (3)

Brock University: B.A., History

Queen's University: M.A., British History

Syracuse University: Ph.D., Early American History

Affiliations (3)

  • American Philosophical Society
  • International Center for Jefferson Studies
  • David Library of the American Revolution

Languages (1)

  • French

Media Appearances (2)

Look inside the twisted minds of ‘Assassins’ in American history; musical at The Beverley

Cedar City News  online


Assassins, written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, brings together the individuals that assassinated or attempted to assassinate former presidents of the United States. It digs into the minds of these people and explores the reasoning behind their actions.

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‘Hamilton’s America’ screens at Southern Utah University

St George News  online


Don’t miss your chance to see a special preview screening of PBS Great Performances documentary “Hamilton’s America,” the story behind the revolutionary musical, on Thursday at Southern Utah University.

As the assistant professor of early American history at SUU, Orihel uses the hit musical to teach about the complexities of the revolution.

“Hamilton creates an instant connection to history and our Founding Fathers,” Orihel said. “By analyzing a song from ‘Hamilton,’ students are engaged and motivated about a subject they usually struggle with. Discussing the themes presented in the song gives them the opportunity to think about a number of important issues: the relationship between old and new media, the role of extra-constitutional organizations in the coming of the revolution and the importance of context and chronology in history.”

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Articles (5)

Teaching About Early Republic Print Culture with Hamilton Early Americanists


In a soap opera-worthy plot, Hamilton was being blackmailed by James Reynolds, the husband of the woman, Maria Reynolds, with whom he had an affair. An unscrupulous man, Reynolds was arrested for another scheme, and Hamilton’s payments to him attracted attention. Rumors were circulating that Hamilton had misused government funds while he was Secretary of the Treasury. His pamphlet explained the blackmail intrigue and the extra-marital affair in meticulous detail.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inclusion of two songs about pamphlets in the musical testifies to the significance of the pamphlet as a dynamic form of political communication in the eighteenth century. Americans turned to pamphlets to attack their opponents, to defend themselves, and to argue with each other during times of crisis and controversy.

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Just Add Sparkling Grape Juice: Toasting and the Historical Imagination in the Early Republic Classroom The Journal of Early American Life


Today most people’s experience with toasting is limited to weddings. Toasts have long ceased to be a significant part of our political world, but in early America the practice of politics depended heavily on sociable drinking and toasting. At festive celebrations, men and women lifted their glasses to toast all sorts of subjects, from kings and presidents to military victories, legislation, principles, and historic events. Toasts variously praised, mocked, protested, or condemned their subjects. Their performance helped to create a convivial world of free-flowing conversation and song, food, and drink. Through toasting, individuals broadcast their political affiliations to the public. They also cemented social and political relationships, forging a sense of group belonging. By the end of the eighteenth century, toasts often appeared in newspapers, the expanding social media of the time. In this way, toasts not only reflected but potentially influenced public opinion.

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A Pamphlet War In Song: Teaching Revolutionary Print Culture with the Musical, Hamilton Early Americanists


When I first listened to the Hamilton soundtrack last fall, the song “Farmer Refuted” caught my attention. The song stages a pamphlet war that began in November 1774 between Samuel Seabury, an Anglican minister in Westchester County, New York, and Alexander Hamilton, then an upstart New York college student. Their war of words over the First Continental Congress carried on for nearly four months and encompassed several tracts.[1]

Pamphlets were the social media of the American Revolution. They gave people a place to talk, argue, complain, and gossip about current issues, particularly during times of controversy or crisis. The publication of one pamphlet sometimes prompted another pamphleteer to respond in print, which often provoked a counter-response, and another, and so forth. These pamphlet wars reflected and shaped the arguments that people had in everyday life—in their households and in taverns, coffeehouses, and other public places. If the Revolution had a soundtrack, pamphlets were it.

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“All Those Truly Acquainted with the History of Those Times”: John Adams and the Opposition Politics of Revolutionary England, ca. 1640–41 The New England Quarterly


In the aftermath of the Stamp Act crisis, John Adams encountered a volume of English revolutionary pamphlets from the early 1640s. By examining that volume within the context of Adams's evolving political and historical thought, this article illustrates how the puritan experience of tyranny helped to justify opposition to British imperial authority.

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"Treacherous Memories”of Regicide: The Calves-Head Club in the Age of Anne The Historian


In late seventeenth-century London, rumors of calves-head clubs began to surface in print. These associations of republican incendiaries allegedly gathered every year on 30 January, the anniversary of the regicide of 1649, to celebrate "that Blessed Action in Lopping off the Head of Charles I." A typical gathering met secretly at night. Members began with a prayer of thanksgiving for the king's execution. They proceeded to stage a symbolic regicide in which they decapitated a calf, a symbol of the king. All in attendance feasted on the calves' heads or drank liquor out of the calves' skulls. The members concluded this celebration by toasting Oliver Cromwell and the other regicides, singing republican anthems in their honor.

Courses (8)

HIST 1700 American Civilization

The fundamentals of American history including political, economic, and social development of American institutions and ideas.

HIST 2921 International Week

This course is an investigation of a different foreign country each year. Emphasis is on the country’s history, culture, and its relationship with the rest of the world.

HIST 3921 International Week

This course is an investigation of a different foreign country each year. Emphasis is on the country’s history, culture, and its relationship with the rest of the world.

HIST 4710 United States 1607-1789

This course offers a detailed social, economic and political examination of the colonial period of United States history from the earliest settlement to a study of Independence and the Constitutional convention.

HIST 4720: The United States, 1789-1845

A study of the New Nation, the War of 1812, the Jacksonian Era, placing special emphasis on the increasing political, social and economic democratization of the United States together with the difficulties created by change.

HIST 4760: The History of Gender in America to 1865

Students will explore how people in early America constructed notions of masculinity and femininity and how those ideas about gender shaped the lives of men and women from 1607 to 1865.

HIST 4770: The History of American Journalism

This course seeks to understand the historical origins of the modern, media-dominated culture of the United States. Topics covered include: invention of the printing press, pamphlets of the American Revolution, Abolitionist newspapers, Yellow Journalism, Political Cartooning, Muckrakers, War Correspondents, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the Digital Revolution.

HIST 4890 Internship

Practical experience in history.