tags: Top Young Historians
Jane Dailey, 43
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago, 2006--
Area of Research: Nineteenth and twentieth century United States, with an emphasis on the American South, Primarily a political historian, she has strong interests in African American history, legal history, and the politics of race.
Education: Ph.D., 1995, Princeton University
Major Publications: Dailey is the author of Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Post-Emancipation Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 2000), published as part of the Gender and American Culture series, and Jim Crow America: A Norton Casebook in History(W. W. Norton & Co., forthcoming 2007). Dailey co-edited with Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Bryant Simon.Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights(Princeton University Press, 2000). Dailey is currently working on Sex and Civil Rights, A history of the politics of race and sex in America from 1865 to ca. 1980. and The American Republic a two-volume United States history textbook, with Harry Watson of UNC; Dailey is responsible for second volume on the US, 1877-2004.
Awards: Dailey is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
Berlin Prize Fellow, American Academy in Berlin, 2004-5;
Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 2004-5;
Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 2004-5;
Rice Undergraduate History Major Society Award for Outstanding Dedication to Students, 1998;
Center for the Study of Cultures Fellow, Rice University, 1996-7; Mellon Post-Enrollment Fellow, Princeton University, 1992-3;
Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Princeton Society of Fellows, 1991-2;
Mellon Fellow, Virginia Historical Society, 1991
Dailey is formerly Associate Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University, 2001—2006 and Associate Director of the Program in Comparative American Cultures, Johns Hopkins University, 2001-3. She was also formerly Assistant Professor of History, Rice University (Tenured: 2000) 1994-2000, and was a Visiting Fellow in History, Princeton University, 1996-7.
Dailey has written numerous articles and book reviews for such publications as Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, Law and History Review, American Historical Review, and Social History among others. Daily has also contributed book chapters including: "The Sexual Politics of Race in WWII America" in Kevin Kruse and Stephen Tuck, eds., Mobilizing the Movement(Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2007), and "Unintended Consequences: Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Question of School Prayer," with Sarah Barringer Gordon (Prof. of Law and History, University of Pennsylvania), in Glenn Feldman, ed., How the South Became Republican (forthcoming, 2007).
"Ignorance is the mother of wonder," someone once said, and I've discovered that my favorite part of a project comes at the height of my ignorance, when I don't yet know what I'm supposed to find banal. It is at that point, and not later, that every shard of the world I am starting to explore seems to hold endless and exciting possibilities. An example: on the last day of my first research trip for what has grown into my current book project, I noticed a file labeled "Miscellaneous Race" at the University of Southern Mississippi and called it up. This file contained a number of unusual articles, each of which encoded a portal to narratives of the past. There was, for instance, a rubber dog toy of a hooded Clansman that exhorted Fido to "Krush the Klan!" There was also a bumper-sticker, unattributed and undated (as bumper-stickers tend to be). Probably from 1968, it read: “George Wallace Uses Hair Straightener." In many ways, my book manuscript, which looks at the interplay between white worries about miscegenation and racial knowledge and the African American freedom struggle, is an extended exegesis of this bumper-sticker. It is only at the beginning of a project, when one doesn't know better than to look at everything with wide-open eyes, that we open such boxes marked "miscellaneous."
Apart from opening such boxes, another way of shocking ourselves out of ignorance is to make friends with an alien. When we think we know our world, there are questions we don't ask. A comparative perspective—looking at the same thing from far away—can make the too-familiar seem strange again. From that same research trip to Mississippi, I brought home piles of documents that deployed Biblical texts and religious language to express white opposition to desegregation, and to characterize "racial amalgamation" as against God's will. The historiography of civil rights tends to dismiss this language as inconsequential, and to focus instead on the religious arguments in favor of desegregation. I might have been tempted to stick with the consensus were it not for my resident alien, who glanced at one of my documents and exclaimed, "Hey, these guys sound like my people!" (He works on Christian/Jewish/Muslim relations in medieval Europe.)
By Jane Dailey
About Jane Dailey
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