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American History

The History Department’s staffing and resources are strong in American history, particularly in the nineteenth century, an area in which it has long excelled.  Current American history faculty include Kristen Block in slavery and the Atlantic World, Daniel Feller in the Jacksonian era, Ernest Freeberg in nineteenth and twentieth century cultural history, Luke Harlow in the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras and in religion, Christopher Magra in early America and the Atlantic World, William D. Mercer in legal and constitutional history, Robert J. Norrell in Southern history and race relations, Tore Olsson in twentieth century U.S., transnational, and agricultural history, Julie Reed in American Indian history, Lynn Sacco in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, gender and sexuality, and popular culture, Shannen Dee Williams in African-American and women’s history, and Brandon Winford in African-American and civil rights history.

Current and recent doctoral dissertations include such topics as the shaping of Jacksonian Indian removal, the origins of American religious camp meetings, evangelical responses to the antebellum market economy, and pacifist networks in the Civil War.

The department hosts both The Papers of Andrew Jacksona major historical editing project—and the Center for the Study of War and Society, which conducts an active program of scholarship and public education.   Campus library resources are particularly strong, including original manuscript collections, extensive monographic and microfilm holdings, and full access to searchable electronic archives such as Early American Imprints, the American Periodicals Series, the US Serial Set, Sabin Americana, Readex’s Early American Newspapers, and Cengage’s Nineteenth-Century US Newspapers.  UT is one of only a few institutions in the country to have acquired all these databases.

Students in the program produce publishable scholarship both before and after earning their degrees.  Recent student publications include articles in Civil War History by William Hardy and in The Journal of East Tennessee History by Jason Mead and Jason Yeatts.

Recent books by History Department faculty include:

  • Tore Olsson, Agrarian Crossings: Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countryside (Princeton University Press, 2017)
  • William Mercer, Diminishing the Bill of Rights: Barron v. Baltimore and the Foundations of American Liberty (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017)
  • Michael Cohen, editor, Correspondence of James K. Polk, vol. 13, August 1847–March 1848. (UT Press, 2017)
  • Julie Reed, Serving the Nation: Cherokee Sovereignty and Social Welfare, 1800-1907 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)
  • Christopher Magra, Poseidon’s Curse: British Naval Impressment and Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
  • Daniel Feller et al., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, Volume X: 1832 (UT Press, 2016)
  • Robert J. Norrell, Alex Haley: And the Books That Changed a Nation (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)
  • Ernest Freeberg, The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America (Penguin, 2013)
  • Luke Harlow, Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • T.R.C. Hutton, Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South (University of Kentucky Press, 2017)
  • Kristen Block, Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit (University of Georgia Press, 2012)
  • Lynn Sacco, Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009)

Books by recent department graduates include:

  • Tracey Hayes Norrell, For the Honor of the Fatherland: German Jews on the Eastern Front in the First World War (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2017)
  • F. Suzanne Bowers, Republican, first last and always: a biography of B. Carroll Reece (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010)
  • William K. Bolt, Tariff Wars and the Politics of Jacksonian America (Vanderbilt University Press, 2017)
  • S. Jonathan Bass, He Calls Me by Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty (Liveright, 2017)
  • Steve Ash, UT Emeritus Professor, A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War (Hill & Wang, 2013)
  • John Kvach, De Bow’s Review: the Antebellum Vision of a New South (University Press of Kentucky, 2013)
  • John D. Fowler et al., Breaking the Heartland: The Civil War in Georgia (Mercer University Press, 2011)
  • Kent T. Dollar et al., Border Wars: The Civil War in Tennessee and Kentucky (Kent State Univ. Press, 2015)
  • Kent T. Dollar et al., Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee (University Press of Kentucky, 2009)
  • Victoria E. Ott, Confederate Daughters: Coming of Age During the Civil War (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008)
  • John C. Pineiro, Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations during the Mexican War (Westport: Praeger, 2007)
  • Ben H. Severance, Tennessee’s Radical Army: The State Guard and its Role in Reconstruction (UT Press, 2005)
  • Vicki Rozema, Footsteps of the Cherokees: A Guide to the Eastern Homelands of the Cherokee Nation (John F. Blair, 2007)
  • Nineteenth-Century America: Essays in Honor of Paul H. Bergeron (2005), containing chapters by seven UT PhDs
  • John D. Fowler, Mountaineers in Gray (University of Tennessee Press, 2004)

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