Dr. Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor of American 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 Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Root.com, The Guardian, Politico, 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 has served on the jury for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History.
“Hobbs provides fresh analysis of an oft-ignored phenomenon, and the result is as fascinating as it is innovative. She foregrounds the sense of loss that passing inflicted, and argues that many of those who were left behind were just as wounded and traumatized as those who departed. By turning safe assumptions inside out, Hobbs questions some of the longest-held ideas about racial identification within American society.”
—Times Higher Education
Hobb’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.
In her lectures, Hobbs discusses the historical legacy of discrimination and how its influence is felt today. She gave a TEDx talk at Stanford, and has appeared on C-SPAN, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Her work has been featured on CNN.com, Slate, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the BBC World Service, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor.
Up next, she is at work on two books, both forthcoming from Penguin Press: To Tell the Terrible, which examines the collective memory of sexual violence among generations of black women; and Nowhere to Run: African American Travel in Twentieth-Century America, which examines the humiliation and indignities as well as the joy, exhilaration, and freedom 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 to drive one’s own car—out of the reach of Black drivers. Nowhere to Run will explore the troubled history and uncertain future of travelers of color in the United States.
Hobbs graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her PhD 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 at Stanford.
Hobbs teaches courses on American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth-century American history and culture. She has won numerous teaching awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Graves Award in the Humanities, and the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award.here.