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Allyson Hobbs

Allyson Hobbs

Allyson Hobbs

Associate Professor of American History
Ph.D., University of Chicago, with distinction B.A., Harvard University, magna cum laude

Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor of United States History, the Director of African and African American Studies, and the Kleinheinz Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. She is a contributing writer to The New Yorker.com and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Book ReviewThe Washington PostThe NationThe Root.comThe GuardianPolitico, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has appeared on C-SPAN, MSNBC and National Public Radio. In 2017, she was honored by the Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP with a Freedom Fighter Award. She served on the jury for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Allyson’s first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press in 2014, examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. A Chosen Exile won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history. The book was also selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2014, a “Best 15 Nonfiction Books by Black Authors in 2014” by The Root, a featured book in the New York Times Book Review Paperback Row in 2016, and a Paris Review “What Our Writers are Reading This Summer” Selection in 2017.

Allyson is currently at work on two books, both forthcoming from Penguin Press. Nowhere to Run: African American Travel in Twentieth Century America explores the violence, humiliation, and indignities that African American motorists experienced on the road and To Tell the Terrible, which examines black women’s testimonies against and collective memory of sexual violence.

"Storytelling Matters to Historian Allyson Hobbs," The Stanford Dish, February 19, 2016

"Stanford Historian Re-examines Practice of Racial 'Passing,'" Stanford Report, December 18, 2013 

She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and she received a Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago.  She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. 

She teaches courses on American identity; African American history; African American women’s history; American road trips, migration, travel and mobility; and twentieth-century American history and culture.  She also has taught classes on Hamilton (the musical) and Michelle Obama.  She has won teaching awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Graves Award in the Humanities, and the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award.