Director of the Memphis Center
Dr. Charles L. Hughes is the Director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College, where he designs courses, programs, and partnerships. Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, and previously served as the Memphis Center's Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. His recent course offerings include The History of Memphis; Beale Street: The Past, Present and Future; Elvis Presley and America; and The Music of the American South. His acclaimed first book, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, was named one of the Best Music Books of 2015 by Rolling Stone and No Depression, one of Paste Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year, and one of Slate’s “Overlooked Books” of 2015. He has published essays and given numerous talks in front of a range of audiences, including featured engagements at the Center for Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives. He is currently working on a book about the history of African-Americans and professional wrestling in the United States, as well as several articles. He is a voter for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a participant in the Nashville Scene’s Year-End Country Music Poll.
Executive Director of the Memphis Center
Dr. Elizabeth Thomas is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Director and Plough Chair of Urban Studies and Executive Director of the Memphis Center. She teaches courses in Psychology and Urban Studies, including Community Psychology, Research Methods, and Senior Seminar in Urban Studies. Her research with undergraduate students focuses on learning and civic engagement, the role of arts in community building, and participatory strategies for research and action. Current projects include a longitudinal study of college students involved in civic engagement and a case study of a partnering community arts organization, “The Crosstown Initiative: Art, community, and placemaking in Memphis,” published in the American Journal of Community Psychology (2015).