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Noel Voltz Joins Department as Assistant Professor of African American History

The History Department is pleased to welcome Professor Noel Voltz to the faculty. Professor Voltz is a scholar of African American and African Diasporic History. She earned her Ph.D. in History in 2014 from the Ohio State University and for the past two years, she has been an Assistant Professor of American History at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC.

Professor Voltz’s particular research interests focus on women of color in slavery and freedom in the United States and the Atlantic World. More specifically, her first book project, tentatively titled, The Sword in Her Hands: Louisiana’s Free Women of Color and their Sexual Negotiation for Freedom, seeks to understand how free women of color used sex across the colorline as a tool of negotiation in various spaces in antebellum Louisiana. More specifically, utilizing contemporary travelers’ journals, newspapers, poems, songs, letters, notarial and ecclesiastical records, court cases and other legal documents, her work examines the sexual agency that Louisiana’s free women of color exerted in five sites of contestation – the body, the ballroom, the storeroom, the courtroom and the sanctuary. She contends that in literal and figurative spaces, Louisiana’s free women of color drew upon their sexuality to make strategic claims to their freedom and advance themselves socially and economically. This work pushes the boundaries of current scholarship engaging questions of intersectionality, sexual agency and trauma, race and identity, and hegemonic myth and cultural reappropriation. In so doing, it builds upon and push beyond historiographic discussions of the fetishizing and fantasizing gaze of white men and the overly simplistic dichotomous images of the hypersexualized Jezebel and the totally victimized yet “respectable” free woman of color. Ultimately, this book project will illuminate a more nuanced understanding of black female agency in the antebellum era.  

In addition to her active research agenda, Professor Voltz is looking forward to teaching a range of courses in the Department including courses on African American, Early American and African Diaspora History. In the Fall of 2016, she will be teaching History 4690: African American History, 1619-1880. In this course, students will explore the history of African Americans in the age of slavery and will learn about the central role that slavery played in the creation of our nation. This course will be meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:45 to 12:05. If you have interest in taking the course, feel free to contact Professor Voltz or your academic advisor.  


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Last Updated: 5/24/17