Kyle G. Volk's research and teaching focus on the legal, constitutional, political, and intellectual history of the United States. He is broadly interested in the history of democracy, the problem of dissent and difference in American society, the place of morals in American law and politics, the history of civil rights and civil liberties, and the changing meaning of freedom in American life. His first book, Moral Minorities & the Making of American Democracy (forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2014), explores the popular struggles over minority rights that developed out of conflicts over race, religion, and alcohol in nineteenth-century America. A new project will explore the history of resistance to law and government in the nineteenth century.
Professor Volk's research has been supported by the American Society for Legal History, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Antiquarian Society, the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund, and the Institute for Humane Studies. He has been a member of the History Department since 2007 and is also an affliated faculty member of the African American Studies program. He advises the department's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society) and coordinates the department's Lockridge History Workshop.
Professor Volk advises graduate students studying aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. History that dovetail with his own broad historical interests. His current and former graduate students work on issues ranging from criminal justice, public education, patriotism, and poverty to environmental politics, public health, urban space and public order, and governance in the American West.
Professor Volk is accepting both MA and PhD students in the 2013-14 admissions cycle. Please contact him by email if you are interested in working with him as a graduate student.
Fields of Study
United States Legal, Constitutional, Political, & Intellectual History; Civil Rights & Civil Liberties; Public Policy & the American State
PhD, University of Chicago, 2008
MA, University of Chicago, 2001
BA, Boston College, 1999
American History I
Honors American History I
Introduction to Historical Methods
The Early American Republic (Writing Course)
American Constitutional History
Intoxication Nation: Alcohol in American History
Moral Conflict & American Democracy (UDW)
Law & Society in Nineteenth-Century America (UDW)
America Divided, 1848-1865 (UDW)
Dissent, Disobedience, & American Democracy
Teaching Discussion Sections
Readings in Early American History (Graduate Course)
The American State (Graduate Course)
Law, Democracy, & Freedom in US History (Graduate Course)
Moral Minorities & the Making of American Democracy (forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2014)
"The Perils of 'Pure Democracy': Minority Rights, Liquor Politics, & Popular Sovereignty in Antebellum America." Journal of the Early Republic 29 (Winter 2009), 641-679.
Reviews in Law & History Review, Journal of the Early Republic, American Nineteenth Century History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era.