Charles Hughes | Memphis Center Postdoctoral Fellow
Office: 205 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3411 | Email:



I have taught numerous courses focusing on the history and culture of the United States. My most extensive teaching experience has been in classes related to African-American history, and I′ve also taught a wide variety of topics about the history of the U.S. South. I′m committed to using the historian′s process – primary research, critical thinking, engaged discussion – to explore the ways that our understanding of the past can inform our experience of the present. This involves the use of a wide variety of sources, from literature to magazine ads, and I particularly use music as a means of exploring broader historical themes and questions. I′ve found that music not only can illuminate difficult historical topics, but can also provide an entryway into discussion about complicated or controversial issues.

At Rhodes, I look forward to teaching a variety of courses in conjunction with the Memphis Center. I′m excited to work with the college′s vibrant group of students to explore the rich history and culture of the mid-South region. I know they′ll point me in directions that I′ve never thought to explore.


My current research focuses on race and the recording industry in the U.S. South from 1960 to 1980. My dissertation explored the relationship between country and soul music, and African-American and white musicians, in recording studios in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Memphis′ rich musical legacy – and the wealth of both people and archival materials available here – make Rhodes a perfect place to continue my explorations. I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues and community members as I turn my dissertation into a manuscript.

I am also currently working on article-length projects about the career of the Staple Singers, the impact of rural electrification projects on popular music, and the activities of the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers, an all-black activist organization that made a major impact on the recording industry in the 1960s and 1970s. I am also in the very early stages of a book project about the history of professional wrestling in the United States. As with my music-based projects, I′m privileged to be in Memphis – which possesses one of the U.S.′s richest and most fascinating wrestling stories – to start this work. I′m also excited to collaborate with Rhodes students on their own research projects, as I know they′ll teach me a lot! 


Ph.D., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012
M.A., Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006
B.A., Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004


History 105 – Elvis Presley and America
History 205 – Memphis and the Mississippi Delta
History 405 – Collecting Memphis Histories

Selected Publications

“You’re My Soul Song: How Southern Soul Changed Country Music,” in Pecknold, Diane, ed., Hidden In The Mix: The African-American Experience In Country Music, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming

“Allowed To Be Free: Bob Dylan And The Black Freedom Movement,” in Sheehy, Colleen and Swiss, Thom, editors, Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan’s Road From Minnesota To The World. St. Paul: University of Minnesota Press, 2009

“The Boogie Woogie Rumble: An Obituary For Bo Diddley,” in Popular Music & Society, December 2008, Dekalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008

"Rebuilding The ′Wall Of Sound′: Bruce Springsteen and Early 1960s American Pop Music" in Womack, Ken, editor, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Fall 2007, Altoona, PN: Penn State University Press, 2007