Professor Stanwood is a historian of colonial America, the Atlantic world, and, more generally, of European overseas endeavors during the early modern era. He has a number of interests within this vast field, including the development of the British and French empires, the diffusion of Christianity, intercultural contact and interaction, and the history of exploration. His first book, The Empire Reformed: English America in the Age of the Glorious Revolution, examines how fears of Catholicism galvanized and transformed Anglo-American political culture during the last decades of the seventeenth century.
His current research, tentatively titled "Dreams of Silk and Wine: Huguenot Refugees in New Worlds," examines the global diaspora of French Protestant refugees, who scattered around the world after Louis XIV revoked their right to freedom of worship in 1685. Settling in communities stretching from Maine to the Indian Ocean, the Huguenots hoped to create Edenic Protestant "colonies" in these new worlds, but instead found themselves subject to whims of their British and Dutch imperial sponsors, who used the refugees to accomplish any number of odd schemes, from making wine in South Africa to converting Indians in New England.
His teaching ranges from colonial and revolutionary America to early modern Europe, including such topics as European-Indian relations, the settlement of Boston and New England, and the development of early modern British imperialism.