Skip to content


Jim Crow America: A Problem in Historicization

April 27-28, 2012

Classics 110

Recent scholarship has prompted renewed interest in the era of constitutionally sanctioned racial segregation known as Jim Crow (1890-1967). Works like Michele Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010), Brian Norman and Piper Kendrix Williams’ edited volume, Representing Segregation: Towards an Aesthetics of Living Jim Crow, and Other Forms of Racial Division (2010), Douglass A. Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name:The Re-enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II (2009), and David Oshinsky’s ‘Worse than Slavery’: Parchment Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (1997) are only a few of the titles attesting to this trend. Fueling much of this interest is a growing consensus that Jim Crow is best understood primarily as one moment in an ongoing effort to establish a white supremacist state, an end that is presumed to have driven the enslavement of Africans in the past and to account for the disproportionate immiseration of black Americans at present. While putatively historical in its aims, this new consensus, contrary to its stated intention, depends on a transhistorical or ahistorical notion of race and racism. Refocusing literary, political, and intellectual history on the significance of the legal establishment and legal dissolution of Jim Crow segregation as a distinct form of subordination, this symposium intends to return “history” to the study of black subordination in the 20th century.


  • Ken Warren, English, University of Chicago
  • Jane Dailey, History, University of Chicago
  • Adam Green, History, University of Chicago


  • Elizabeth Abel, English, U.C. Berkeley
  • Matthew Briones, History, University of Chicago
  • Tess Chakkalakal, Africana Studies, Bowdoin College
  • M. Giulia Fabi, English, University of Ferrarra (Italy)
  • John Giggie, History, University of Alabama
  • John Gruesser, English, Kean University
  • Toussaint Losier, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago
  • Salikoko Mufwene, Linguistics, University of Chicago
  • Stephen Tuck, History, University of Oxford
  • Hanna Wallinger, American Studies, Salzburg University (Austria)
  • Karin Wimbley, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago