S2, Episode 1

In This Episode

October 19, 2021: Ashley Howard on the Black Midwest

Season Two of "Off the Shelf" opens with the fascinating and timely research of Professor Ashley Howard (University of Iowa), a historian whose analysis of 1960s urban rebellions in the Midwest sheds light on contemporary resistance movements to racialized oppression. In her discussion with host Augustus Wood, Howard references some of the works that have influenced her scholarship, from Brent Campney to Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Martin Oppenheimer to Johan Galtung.

Along the way she reminds the listener of the many ways in which the Black Midwestern experience creates or informs the national narrative. 

"These major Black cultural moments are being born in the Black Midwest, but they're adopted by America as a whole. When we think of funk, that's coming out of Ohio; we think of house music, that’s coming out of Chicago; Motown, that's Detroit; Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison... All of these kind of canonical Black cultural texts are coming from a Black Midwestern experience."

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About the Guest: Ashley Howard

Professional headshot of Ashley Howard


Ashley Howard received her PhD in history from the University of Illinois. She joined the University of Iowa faculty in fall 2019 coming from Loyola University, New Orleans. Her research interests include African Americans in the Midwest; the intersection between race, class, and gender; and the global history of racial violence. Her manuscript Prairie Fires: Class, Gender, and Regional Intersections in the 1960s Urban Rebellions analyzes the 1960s urban rebellions in the Midwest, grounded in the way race, class, gender, and region played critical and overlapping roles in defining resistance to racialized oppression.

Dr. Howard's work has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, BBC World News Hour, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, Washington Post, and NPR. Her "Then the Burnings Began" article is the winner of the 2018 James L. Sellers Memorial Prize.