Kyle Volk's research and teaching focus on the political, legal, social, and intellectual history of the United States. He is interested in the history of democracy, the problem of dissent and difference in American society, the place of morals in American law and politics, the history of civil rights and civil liberties, and the changing meaning of freedom in American life. His first book, Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014), explores the pioneering popular struggles over minority rights that developed out of conflicts over race, religion, and alcohol in nineteenth-century America. Future projects will explore resistance to government in the long Progressive era and the centrality of debates over alcohol to cultural conceptions of liberty in U.S. History.
Professor Volk's research has been supported by the American Society for Legal History, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Antiquarian Society, the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund, and the Institute for Humane Studies. He has been a member of the History Department since 2007 and is also an affliated faculty member of the African American Studies program. He advises the department's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society) and coordinates the department's Lockridge History Workshop. Volk is also a Prelaw advisor for history students.
Professor Volk advises graduate students studying aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. History that dovetail with his own broad historical interests. His current and former graduate students work on issues ranging from patriotism, public education, racial prejudice, and disability to environmental politics, public health and urban space, and governance in the American West. Professor Volk is accepting both MA and PhD students in the 2015-16 admissions cycle. Please contact him by email if you are interested in working with him as a graduate student.
Fields of Study
United States Political, Legal, Social, & Intellectual History; Civil Rights & Civil Liberties; Political Economy, Social Movements, & American Democracy
PhD, University of Chicago, 2008
MA, University of Chicago, 2001
BA, Boston College, 1999
American History I / Honors American History I (Gen. Ed.: American/European and Historical/Cultural)
Introduction to Historical Methods
The Early American Republic (Approved Writing Course)
American Constitutional History
Intoxication Nation: Alcohol in American History
Moral Conflict & American Democracy (Upper Division Writing Course)
Law & Society in Nineteenth-Century America (Upper Division Writing Course)
America Divided, 1848-1865 (Upper Division Writing Course)
Dissent & American Democracy (Advanced Seminar for Undergraduates and Graduate Students)
Readings in Early American History (Graduate Course)
The American State (Graduate Course)
Law, Democracy, & Capitalism in US History (Graduate Course)
Graduate Research Seminar in History (Graduate Course)
CASE Professor of the Year, College & University Nominee, 2015
Helen and Winston Cox Educational Excellence Award, College of Humanities and Sciences, 2014
American Antiquarian Society, National Endowment fot the Humanities (NEH) Long-Term Fellow, 2010-11
American Society for Legal History (ASLH), William Nelson Cromwell Fellowship, 2009-2010
Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014)
- Merle Curti Prize, 2015. (For the best book in American Intellectual History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)
- Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, 2015, honorable mention. (For the best first book in U.S. History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)
"The Perils of 'Pure Democracy': Minority Rights, Liquor Politics, & Popular Sovereignty in Antebellum America." Journal of the Early Republic 29 (Winter 2009), 641-679.
"All Wet: Drink and the Fortification of American Democracy." Boston College Magazine, Fall 2014.
"Desegregating New York City: The Amazing pre-Civil War History of Public Transit Integration in the North." Salon.com, August, 2014.
"NYC's 19th Century Rosa Parks." New York Daily News, August 4, 2014.
"What if the Fourth of July were Dry?" OUPblog, July 4, 2014.
"Schools Can't Say 'Amen' to Coercion." Star Ledger (Newark, NJ), October, 25, 2005.
Reviews in Law & History Review, Journal of the Early Republic, American Nineteenth Century History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era.