Tobin Miller Shearer
Tobin Miller Shearer
Associate Professor of History; Director of African-American Studies
Spring Semester 2015
I am interested in studying the history of race and religion in the United States. To that end I have studied how interactions between white and African-American Mennonites in homes and sanctuaries brought about changes as significant as those initiated in the streets by the formal civil rights movement. My current research focuses on Fresh Air rural hosting programs in which white rural families hosted African-American and Latino children from urban environments and on the role of prayer during the civil rights movement. In the first project, I trace how the host families' perceptions of the children changed during the course of the twentieth century as a means to explain the persistence of racism in the U.S. In the second, I examine prayer as a potent resource activists used to initiate crisis. I have also written extensively on issues of white privilege, religious identity, and nonviolence. I advise graduate students studying twentieth century U.S. history in the broad arenas of race and religion. I have advised and do research in African-American studies, religious history, childhood history, whiteness studies, the civil rights movement, interracial congregations, and Mennonite/Anabaptist history. I am accepting both MA and PhD students in the next admissions cycle. Please feel free to contact me by email if you are interested in working with me as a graduate student.
I hold a dual PhD in History and Religious Studies from Northwestern University (2008).
An Innocent Exchange: The Fresh Air Movement and the Boundaries of Racial Negotiation, 1939-1979 (forthcoming, Cornell University Press).
Daily Demonstrators: The Civil Rights Movement in Mennonite Homes and Sanctuaries. (Johns Hopkins Press, 2010).
Set Free: A Journey Toward Solidarity Against Racism. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001 (co-authored with Iris de León-Hartshorn and Regina Shands Stoltzfus).
Enter the River: Healing Steps from White Privilege to Racial Reconciliation. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994.
“Striking at the Sacred: The Violence of Prayer, 1960-1969,” Open Theology 1 (2015): 126–133: Open Theology article website.
“A Prophet Pushed Out: Vincent Harding and the Mennonites,” Mennonite Life 69 (2015): Mennonite Life article website .
“Invoking Crisis: Performative Christian Prayer and the Civil Rights Movement,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 83, no. 2 (2015): 490-512.
“Conflicting Identities: White Racial Formation Among Mennonites, 1960-1985,” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 19 no. 3 (2012): 268-284.
“A Pleasing Observation,” Chronicle of Higher Education (March 6, 2012), Chronicle article website.
“More Than Fresh Air: African-American Children’s Influence on Mennonite Religious Practice, 1950-1979,” The Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Religion 2, no. 7 (May 2011): JAAR article website.
“Daily Demonstrators: The Civil Rights Movement in Mennonite Homes and Sanctuaries,” Mennonite Life 65 (Summer 2011): Mennonite Life article website.
AAS/HSTA 141 Black: From Africa to Hip-hop and Beyond AAS/HSTA 343 African-American History Since 1865 AAS/HSTA 345 The Black Radical Tradition AAS/HSTA 374 Voodoo, Muslim, Church: Black Religion AAS/HSTA 417 Prayer and Civil Rights AAS/HSTA 562 Problems in African-American History HSTA 595 U.S. Religious History DC 120 Introduction to Honors: Imagining the Future
2013-present, Associate Professor, History/African-American Studies, University of Montana 2008-2013, Assistant Professor, History/African-American Studies, University of Montana 2006, Instructor, Northwestern University, “Racing Through the Movies: Race in Twentieth-Century Film.” Freshman writing seminar. 2005, Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University, Introduction to the New Testament. 2005, Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University, Introduction to Christianity. 2004, Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University, Religion in the Human Experience. 2004, Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University, Religion in the Human Experience. 2004, Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University, Introduction to the New Testament. 1993-2001, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Racism Awareness Program Director, Akron, Pa. Co-founded and led Damascus Road, a national anti-racism training program active among forty-five colleges, mission agencies, congregations, and church-wide conference bodies. Led more than 400 presentations in twenty-five states including sixty-three workshops of a day or more in length and hundreds of lectures, half-day workshops and classroom presentations.
I am concluding a research project on Fresh Air rural hosting programs in which white rural families hosted African-American children from the inner city. I trace how the host families' perceptions of the children changed during the course of the twentieth century as a means to explain the persistence of racism in the U.S. My new work explores the role of prayer and crisis during the civil rights movement.