2014 Speakers and Panelists


Keynote Address

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Atlantic
Senior Editor

The Memphis Center at Rhodes College is pleased to welcome Ta-Nehisi Coates as our conference’s keynote speaker and panelist. Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. From his own description: “Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-′90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.”

Conference Presentation: Plenary Luncheon and Keynote Address, "A Deeper Black: Race in America"

Ta-Nehisi Coates delves into the conflicted and hopeful state of black America today. What does "black culture" mean? What is the continuing role of both the older and younger generations in shaping it? Where will gentrification, education, and the splintering (or unifying) of families take it? With an easy-going manner, an unashamedly erudite approach, and a journalist′s grasp of narrative and clarity, Coates delivers an ear-to-the-ground (and Eyes on the Prize) talk that asks the small personal questions as well as the big historic ones.


Plenary Speaker

Kate Masur

Northwestern University
Associate Professor of History

Kate Masur (PhD University of Michigan 2001) works in nineteenth-century U.S. history, with particular emphasis on how Americans confronted the political and social problems posed by the end of slavery. A faculty affiliate of the Department of African American Studies, she is the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2010). Professor Masur has published several scholarly journal articles, including most recently, “Patronage and Protest in Kate Brown’s Washington,” Journal of American History (March 2013). Her writing has also appeared in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Atlantic Online.

Professor Masur is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The recipient of a 2010 ACLS/Ryskamp fellowship, she is currently working on two research projects. One concerns African Americans, federal employment, and the Republican party in the post-Civil War period. Here she is interested in government work as a source of economic stability and upward mobility for African Americans, the nineteenth-century Republican party’s struggles with race, and the meanings of federal enclaves in the post-Confederate South. In a separate project she is investigating the demise of slavery in the Upper Chesapeake region during the first year of the Civil War, paying special attention to how local police and military officials enforced fugitive slave laws. Before joining the Northwestern faculty, she spent two years as an editor at the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland. She is a co-editor of the project′s forthcoming volume, Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, ser. 3, vol. 2: Land and Labor, 1866-1867.

Conference Presentation: Plenary Breakfast and Plenary Luncheon


Speakers and Panelists

Barbara Combs

University of Mississippi
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Barbara Combs’ dissertation research focused on the role of place in attachment to two historic, black gentrifying Atlanta neighborhoods. She plans to expand that research to include additional southern cities as well as to examine the influence of the past in African Americans’ return migration patterns to the South.

Combs came to sociology after years of practicing law and as many years teaching college English. As often as she can, she tries to incorporate literature and history into my teaching. Many of her favorite writers are from the South or they write about the South, and their writings have both cultivated her love of the South and heightened her interest in it.

She is interested in the places and spaces people create and the interactions which happen (or do not happen) in those areas. Combs’ research focuses on the contemporary American South, but she believes the past informs the present. Nostalgia, memory, and history are compelling and factor heavily into the narratives people create about the bounded geographical areas they share. Perhaps no place is this more true than the contemporary American South.

Collective memory of the civil rights movement is a topic in which she has recently become interested. She has a book that is coming out at the end of this year with Routledge called From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom, and she will be teaching a special topics graduate course on collective memory of the civil rights movement in Spring 2014.

Conference Presentation: Paper Panelist, “Bodies Out of Place: A Theory of Social Dis-Integration in the Post-Civil Rights American South”


Liz Daggett

Rhodes College
Assistant Professor of Art
Director of CODA

Ms. Daggett received her B.A. in Communications from University Memphis and her M.F.A. in Documentary Production fromUniversity of North Texas. She teaches courses in digital photography and digital art, documentary filmmaking, and experimental filmmaking; her scholarly interests include making documentaries and experimental films and examining new local to global production and distribution workflows in filmmaking. In addition to her responsibilities as Assistant Professor of Art, Ms. Daggett will remain the Director for the Center for Outreach and Development of the Art (CODA) at Rhodes College.

Conference Presentation: "Documentary Film" Master Class


Dee Garceau

Rhodes College
Associate Professor of History 

Dee Garceau′s courses explore the lived experience of people in the American past through primary sources, and we also consider the how scholars construct history. She seeks opportunities for interdisciplinary work, such as involving students in the creation of a local museum exhibit of historic photographs; or researching an art form such as African-American stepping and producing a documentary film based on their findings. Projects like these expand student understanding of what is historical and of different approaches to historical investigation.

In the modern American West, gender systems have both shaped and been influenced by cross-cultural encounters, conquest, colonization, and the expansion of capitalism, changing landscapes of privilege and exclusion. Gender in the West has been further complicated by ideological constructions of race, as well as by mythical constructions of the West itself. Her published work explores how individuals and communities renegotiate boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality in the intermountain West, from the mid-nineteenth through twentieth centuries.

Conference Presentation: "Documentary Film" Master Class


Thavolia Glymph

Duke University
Associate Professor of African & African American Studies

Having completed Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge, 2008), Thavolia Glympth turned her attention back to a project begun years before on the experience of enslaved and freed women on the battlefields of the Civil War. This study focuses on the lives of black women and children in Civil War refugee, and labor camps. She is also completing Women at War (under contract with the University of North Carolina Press) and a study of Civil War veterans who served in the Egyptian Army in the 1870s entitled Playing “Dixie” in Egypt: Civil War Veterans in the Egyptian Army and Transnational Transcripts of Race, Nation, Empire and Citizenship, 1869-1878.

Conference Presentation: Paper Panelist


Aram Goudsouzian

University of Memphis
Chair of the Department of History
Faculty Advisor, Graduate Association for African-American History

Aram Goudsouzian’s interests are in American popular culture, African-American history, and 20th-century United States history. His current research project is Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear, a June 1966 march for black freedom that started in Memphis and ended in Jackson, Mississippi. It will be published in 2014 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Conference Presentation: Paper Panelist, “‘That’s a White Man’s Statue!’: Civil Wars, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear”


Hasan Jeffries

Ohio State University
Associate Professor of History

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries joined the History Department at the rank of assistant professor in autumn 2003. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he received his B.A. in history from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, his M.A. in American history from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in 1997, and his Ph.D. in twentieth century American history from Duke University in 2002. He was promoted to associate professor in 2009. Dr. Jeffries specializes in 20th century African American history and has an expertise in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. He is the author of the newly released BLOODY LOWNDES: CIVIL RIGHTS AND BLACK POWER IN ALABAMA′S BLACK BELT (New York University Press, 2009). BLOODY LOWNDES tells the remarkable story of the local people and SNCC organizers who ushered in the Black Power era by transforming rural Lowndes County, Alabama from a citadel of violent white supremacy into the center of southern black militancy by creating the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), an all-black, independent, political party that was also the original Black Panther Party. Dr. Jeffries teaches a range of courses in African American and American history, including graduate courses on 20th century African American history (752 and 757), upper level undergraduate courses on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (555), surveys in African American history (323), and surveys in American history (151-152). Dr. Jeffries holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Conference Presentation: "Teaching Civil Rights Movement" Master Class and Paper Panelist


Scott Nesbit

University of Virginia at Richmond
DSL Associate Director

Scott Nesbit is the Digital Scholarship Lab’s associate director. He is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Virginia with an interest in space and the nineteenth-century American South. His essays have appeared in the Journal for the Civil War Era and Southern Spaces.

Conference Presentation: "New Approaches to Teaching the Civil War" Master Class


Susan O’Donovan

University of Memphis
Associate Chair of the Department of History

Susan O’Donovan’s work focuses on the history of enslaved women and men, the Civil War, emancipation, and that period we call Reconstruction as regional, national, and transnational phenomena.
Her interest in these areas led her initially to the Freedmen and Southern Society Project, and then formed the intellectual core of her first book, Becoming Free in the Cotton South. Published in 2007 by Harvard University Press and recipient (among others) of the Organization of American History′s James A. Rawley Prize in 2008 for the best book in the history of race, Becoming Free in the Cotton South explores the gendered dimensions of work in slavery and the ways in which those always contingent dynamics shaped black people′s expectations, aspirations, and experiences in freedom.

These interests inspire much of her current work as well. Her new project, Slaves and the Politics of Disunion, is an attempt to expand and repopulate what we think of as the political universe by taking into account those who had the greatest stake in one of this nation′s greatest debates: the enslaved. It is research that challenges decades of scholarly interpretation by approaching enslaved women and men as agents of historical change, individuals who in attempting to advance their own interests helped shape an increasingly volatile political terrain. It is research that calls on us to rethink the origins of the Civil War and as a result, the consequences of a war that cost as many as 700,000 lives. Last but not least, it is research that asks of the past today′s questions about technologies of knowledge, and where and how politics happens.

Conference Presentation: Paper Panelist


Timothy Tyson

Duke University
Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture

Timothy B. Tyson, author of the much-acclaimed Blood Done Sign My Name and other award-winning books, is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies and Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture in the Divinity School. Blood Done Sign My Name, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Christopher Award and the North Caroliniana Book Award, was the 2005 selection of the Carolina Summer Reading Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assigned to all new undergraduate students. Tyson’s previous book Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (UNC Press, 1999) won the James Rawley Prize and was co-winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, both from the Organization of American Historians. He also co-edited, with David S. Cecelski, Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy (UNC Press, 1998), which won the 1999 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America. Tyson was a John Hope Franklin Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2004–05. He is a North Carolina native and a graduate of Duke (M.A. ’91, Ph.D. ’94).

Conference Presentation: "Oral History" Master Class and Paper Panelist, “Thickets of Memory, Stories of Emmett Till”