B.A., Beloit College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
Brenna W. GreerKnafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences; Assistant Professor of History
Historian of race, gender, and culture in 20th century U.S. with focus on African American business and visual culture.
I am a historian of race, gender, and culture in twentieth century United States who works at the intersections of African American, business, and visual culture history. My current scholarship focuses on the relationship between African Americans' politics and their acts of making representations. I am currently at work on a manuscript entitled "Image Matters: Black Representation Politics, Capitalism, and Civil Rights Work in the Mid-Twentieth Century United States." This work considers how, during and after World War II, black capitalists produced innovative media images that claimed to define black America. Although not activists, I argue that by seizing new opportunities in photojournalism, public relations, and advertising, these market-based black media-makers directly participated in and influenced post-war civil rights efforts, as well as the appearance and subsequent memory of what we popularly refer to as the "civil rights movement." By placing black image-makers at the center of histories from which African Americans have been largely excluded, including the development of state propaganda and commercial marketing, my research disrupts conventional frameworks in the civil rights historiography that isolate the movement from forces of capitalism and enterprise. In addition to marching in the streets, I show that blacks pursued their freedom by participating in mainstream, and even racist political and corporate agendas. In addition to my research, I enjoy teaching topics in U.S., African American, visual culture and gender history, including courses entitled Constructing America and Americans in U.S. History since 1865, U.S. Consumer Culture and Citizenship, The Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Seeing Black: African Americans and U.S. Visual Culture, and Gender, Race, and Class: Women in U.S. History.
Recent Publications: “Selling Liberia: Moss H. Kendrix, the Liberian Centennial Commission, and the Post-World War II Trade in Black Progress,” Enterprise & Society (Spring 2013): 303 – 326.