Young is a historian of the modern United States, with a focus on political communication, social movements, and the emotional experience of politics. His research on turn-of-the-century charismatic movements suggests that modern political strategists underestimate the importance of emotional appeals in driving policy change. He is the author of The Age of Charisma: Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870-1940, and his editorials have been published in the Chicago Sun-Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Times. In addition to his academic work, Young serves as an advisor for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.
Discusses the 1926 Fortune Telling Hearing, which pitted spiritualist women against Harry Houdini before a congressional subcommittee, and argues that female spiritualists merged egalitarian and maternal feminism in a way that foreshadowed the pluralistic feminism of the later twentieth century.
Uses hundreds of letters and testimonials from followers of evangelist Billy Sunday to argue that the emotional experience of charismatic followership was an important site of political and social agency for Americans in the Progressive Era.
Argues that the modern emotional connection between American leaders and followers grew out of a unique group of charismatic social movements prominent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.