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CANCELLED: Writer in Residence Public Lecture by Allyson Hobbs

CANCELLED: Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, The 11th Annual Writer in Residence Lecture featuring Allyson Hobbs has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.


2017 Writer-in-Residence: Allyson Hobbs

RESCHEDULED: Public Lecture: Tuesday, March 23, 4pm, UMass Amherst Cape Cod Lounge

"Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights"

This talk argues that the national fraternity of American motorists excluded African Americans during the early to mid-twentieth century despite the ostensibly democratic nature of the “open road.” Providing a textured account of the emotional lives of black drivers including the sense of pride, the seduction, and the exhilaration that owning a car offered, this talk also considers the fears and anxieties that arose once African Americans motorists got behind the wheel. The road was (and certainly, still is) a site of racial contestation. This talk calls for a reconsideration of “automobility” and the role of the car in African American culture. 

Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford University.  She is a contributing staff writer for the New and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. 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 Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history.

A Chosen Exile has been featured on All Things Considered on National Public Radio, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. The book was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, a “Best Book of 2014” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and a “Book of the Week” by the Times Higher Education in London. The Root named A Chosen Exile as one of the “Best 15 Nonfiction Books by Black Authors in 2014.”

Allyson’s next book, Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, explores the violence, humiliation, and indignities that African American motorists experienced on the road.  Jim Crow laws and local customs put mid-century American pleasures—taking to the road, exploring the country, enjoying the freedom and the autonomy of driving one’s own car—out of the reach of black drivers.  This book is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2019.

Hobbs is a contributing staff writer for New She has given a TEDx talk at Stanford, and has appeared on C-Span, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Her work has been featured on and in the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor.