Focus Area on African-American and Southern History

The History Department at the University of Memphis is especially strong in African-American and Southern histories. While these are distinct fields of inquiry and students may work exclusively within one or the other, our program provides a unique opportunity to study at the intersection of two histories that have informed each other across the centuries in myriad ways, large and small. The center of our attention is generally the nineteenth and twentieth century U.S., but our collective interests transcend political borders, geography, and time, enabling students to pursue research that is as global and deep as it is African-American and/or Southern. Departmental strengths in the histories of labor, race, gender, politics, women, and the economy open up further lines of inquiry and emphasis. Thus while Southern and African-American experiences represent the focal points of our scholarship, opportunities abound for students to find their own intellectual space between and within two dynamic fields of study that have their own long and tangled histories.

  • Beverly Bond specializes in 19th Century African-American history, the history of African American Women, and the history of Black Memphis.
  • Michele Coffey is a specialist in US Legal and Political History, the US South, African American History, Women's and Gender History.
  • Charles Crawford is a specialist in the history of Memphis and the State of Tennessee as well as oral history.
  • Andrew Daily works in the areas of French history, the Caribbean, and colonial, imperial, and postcolonial history, with a particular emphasis on the shared cultural and intellectual history of Europe and its empires.
  • Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas explores issues of colonization, state formation, Latin America and the international division of labor, the Cold War, the slave trade and black societies, eugenics, international migration, and transnational feminism and women’s movements.
  • Aram Goudsouzian specializes in 20th century American history, with a particular focus on race, politics, and culture. Has authored books and articles that examine the era of the civil rights movement from a variety of angles, and pursuing projects in U.S. sports history.
  • Brian Kwoba's research focuses on African-American history, African diaspora, the history of Black political thought.
  • Dennis Laumann is a specialist in West African history, especially the history of Ghana; colonialism; oral history; links between Cuba and Africa; and Marxist theory and history.
  • Selina Makana is a specialist in Contemporary African History, African Women's History, Oral History, Modern Global History, Transnational Feminisms,  Gender and Militarism, African Diaspora, and the Politics of Cross-Border Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Scott Marler teaches the history of the Atlantic World, c. 1440-1888, with a strong emphasis on slavery, as well as the global history of capitalism.
  • Caroline Peyton specializes in the history of the American South, environment and energy, science and technology.
  • Sarah Potter's research focuses on Women, gender, and sexuality; history of family and childhood; social work history and the history of adoption; race and racialization; 20th-century US history.
  • Susan O’Donovan works in the area of slavery and emancipation, fields of study that have long defied national as well as disciplinary boundaries. Her current research reveals the transnational lives of enslaved Americans and she offers courses that explore the transatlantic slave trade, women in Atlantic slavery, and emancipation as a historical and global problem.
  • Elton H. Weaver III's research focuses on twentieth-century African American history and African American Religious History, particularly interested in how the historical Black Church impacted the Black Freedom Struggle.