Arts and Humanities Adds Expert on Race, 19th-Century American History

Dr. Dennis M. Kratz

Dr. Dennis M. Kratz

Dr. Whitney Nell Stewart, an expert on race and 19th-century American history, has joined the faculty of the School of Arts and Humanities in the department of Historical Studies and Philosophy.

Stewart’s work examines the role of material objects and structures, including homes, in debates over slavery and freedom throughout the 19th century.

“Dr. Stewart’s research addresses issues of urgent importance — race, slavery and the ways in which we create the historical narrative that both reflects and influences our national values,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the school and Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities.

“The honors that she has already received, including prestigious fellowships, identify her as a rising young star among American historians. I look forward to her becoming a leader in our efforts to enhance the University’s commitment to public humanities — that is, outreach efforts to bring new levels of knowledge and understanding to the community,” Kratz said.

Stewart has received numerous fellowships from the nation’s leading research institutions, including the Barra Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Early American Art and Material Culture from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Research Fellowship.

Stewart said her interest in race and material culture in U.S. history “emerged from personal and practical considerations.”

“Growing up in the Deep South, I wanted to understand why and how this pernicious thing ‘race’ came into existence and shaped American life,” Stewart said. “Though the influence of race has been widely felt throughout American history, it has not always been widely written about. As such, I look to nonwritten sources like objects, structures and images to illuminate the ways that 19th-century Americans constructed and challenged racial structures.”

The school offers degree programs in art and performance, history and literature, and is home to the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, the Asia Center, the Confucius Institute, the Center for Translation Studies, and the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology. In 2014, the University introduced the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, a center for innovative research and graduate education in art history with an extensive partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art.


New Tenure-Track Faculty

Dr. Whitney Stewart

Dr. Whitney Nell Stewart

Dr. Whitney Nell Stewart, assistant professor of history

Previously: PhD graduate, Rice University

Research interests: 19th-century U.S. history, race, material culture

Quote: “I’m thrilled to be at UTD, and that’s not just because I am a Texan. Faculty and students easily traverse disciplinary boundaries, seeing them more like epistemological welcome mats. My own research, which examines the intersection between race and material culture in 19th-century America, demands this kind of openness. From furniture to paintings, buildings to archaeological remains, my work relies on a wide range of theories and methodologies. I am excited to learn from colleagues with different specialties and interests, and whose own openness will foster my growth as a scholar. I also look forward to urging students to think about history outside the classroom. Courses in public history — the how, why, what and where of presenting the past to the public — will offer students the opportunity to critically evaluate the diverse forms that history takes in the public sphere.”


New Faculty Series

News Center is publishing profiles of tenured and tenure-track professors who have recently joined the University. The following school profiles have been published:

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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