Faculty at the School of Arts and Humanities

Whitney Stewart

Assistant Professor
Affiliate, Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History

Area:  HIST
Areas of Specialization:  American History, Race, Material Culture, Public History

Office:  JO 5.114
Office Hours:  M: 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., T: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Th: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-2962

As a history professor at UTD, I am delighted to teach a range of classes, from introductory US history surveys to graduate-level courses. I think, read, and work as both an academic and public historian, meaning I'm interested not only in scholarly historical practice, but in history that reaches a wider audience. Museums, parks, documentaries, websites: there are so many places where the public interacts with history. I've been lucky to spend time in cities around the nation while researching, writing, and curating. Most recently, I spent one year in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. But, having grown up in Houston, I'm thrilled to once again call Texas my home.

My research interests include American history, race, and material culture. I am currently working on a book project exploring the racialized nature of home in the nineteenth-century US. Growing up in the US South, the issue and problem of race was consistently present though frequently ignored. Since high school, I have wanted to dig deeper into the complicated history and legacy of race in the US so as to better understand my world today. And I find that material culture—the objects that we make, buy, sell, and throw away—is one of the best source bases to explore the often unexpressed racialized ideologies of past peoples. Plus, as the great sage Madonna once said: "we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl."

I want my students to understand the complexity and contingency of history, while also recognizing the connections of the past with the present. I push my students to never respond with a "yes or no," to never assume there is just one simple answer to a question. As such, my classes combine the broad with the particular, examining structural issues alongside individual voices. Students examine historical articles and monographs with primary sources, like diary entries, clothing, and paintings. Ultimately, after careful observation and analysis, students express their own evaluations of the past. In a world where history is wielded to support a wide variety of political agendas, the skills that students develop will not only help them in their careers, but also in their everyday lives.

I have long loved history, but before there was history there was dance. I attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, where I focused on modern dance along with the academics. I was fortunate to perform throughout the United States and Britain before deciding to shelve my pointe and tap shoes for good. No longer a dancer, I'm an avid runner and cook (all things in balance), and a forever-fan of The Beatles and Harry Potter.

Work Samples and Publications: 

  • Co-editor, Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations: An Atlantic World Anthology (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018).
  • "Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans," Journal of Social History 51, no. 2 (February 2018), 526–56.
  • Review of Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom, by Julia O'Connell Davidson. HSlavery, H-Net Reviews (July 2017).
  • "The Material Culture of Freedom: African American Women and the Southern Free Black Home after the Civil War," in Creators and Consumers: Women and Material Culture and Visual Art in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest, The David B. Warren Symposium, vol. 5 (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2016), 46–58.

Ph.D. in History, Rice University, 2017
M.A. in History, Rice University, 2013
B.A. in History, University of St. Thomas, 2009

Curriculum Vitae:  Whitney Stewart's CV