Dr. Sarah L. Silkey
History: Assistant Professor
Classes: US History, African American History, US Since 1945, Historical Methods
I first came to appreciate the advantages of a liberal arts education while growing up in a small college town in Minnesota. As an American Studies major at Carleton College, I became interested in understanding the role of race and racial tensions in the development of American society. Conducting my graduate work in Britain allowed me to investigate American history through a transnational lens. Rather than existing in isolation, American society has been deeply influenced by social, political, and cultural connections with other nations. I continue to use this transnational focus in my teaching and research.
My research explores violence in American society. I examine the narratives used by nineteenth-century Americans to deflect outside criticism and defend mob violence as honorable acts of community justice. My research reveals how Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist and civil rights activist, exploited contradictions between British and American understandings of mob violence during her 1893-1894 transatlantic anti-lynching campaign. Her successful critique of American lynching as a racist act of violent oppression continues to shape our understanding of mob violence today. I have published an essay on Wells's campaign and I am currently completing revisions on a book manuscript exploring the transnational component of Wells's activism.
When time permits, I enjoy a wide variety of activities ranging from tatting, sewing, and photography to fly fishing and piano playing (badly).