Christopher Comer, Dean
History Professor; Director of Graduate Studies
Kyle Volk's research and teaching focus on the history of the United States, with emphasis on political, intellectual, legal, and economic history during the long nineteenth century (1776-1933). He is especially interested in the history of democracy; the problem of dissent and difference in American society; capitalism, law, and the American state; civil rights, civil liberties, and the changing meaning of freedom in American life.
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, and the American Antiquarian Society. His first book, Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014), explores the pioneering popular struggles over minority rights that developed out of conflicts over race, religion, and alcohol in nineteenth-century America. Moral Minorities received two major honors from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) in 2015: the Merle Curti Award for Best Book in American Intellectual History; and honorable mention for the Frederick Jackson Turner Award for the Best First Book in American History. His current work explores the problem and politics of personal liberty throughout U.S. History.
Professor Volk advises graduate students studying various aspects of U.S. History. His current and former graduate students work on issues ranging from patriotism, racial prejudice, disability, and social welfare to political economy, environmental politics, public health, and governance in the American West. Professor Volk is accepting both MA and PhD students in the next admissions cycle. Please contact him by e-mail if you are interested in working with him as a graduate student. Current doctoral students interested in preparing an examination field advised by Professor Volk should contact him early in their graduate career.
Professor Volk directs the History Department's graduate program and advises its chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society). He founded the department's Lockridge History Workshop and continues to coordinate it each year. Volk is also a Prelaw advisor for history undergraduates and an affiliated faculty member of the African American Studies Program. He was the 2014 recipient of the Helen and Winston Cox Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University of Montana's 2015 nominee for CASE Professor of the Year. In 2016, Professor Volk was named a University of Montana Provost's Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.
PhD, MA, University of Chicago
BA, Boston College
Field of Study
United States History; Democracy, Capitalism, and the American State; Political, Intellectual, Legal, and Economic History
Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy Oxford University Press, 2014; paperback, 2017.
- Merle Curti Prize, 2015. (For the best book in American Intellectual History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)
- Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, 2015, honorable mention. (For the best first book in U.S. History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)
Empire, Capitalism, and Democracy: The Early American Experience. Cognella, forthcoming 2018. (with Patrick Mulford O'Connor)
"Beyond Reciprocity: Democracies of Vigilance and Empire." Journal of Politics, Religion, and Ideology (forthcoming 2018).
"The Consequential State: Public Law and the Release of Energy in Nineteenth-Century America." American Journal of Legal History 57 (June 2017), 232-237.
"Apply Liberalism Liberally: Incest and the Troubled American State." Reviews in American History 45 (March 2017), 50-56.
"The Perils of 'Pure Democracy': Minority Rights, Liquor Politics, & Popular Sovereignty in Antebellum America." Journal of the Early Republic 29 (Winter 2009), 641-679.
- "What Will Future Historians Say About President Trump's First 100 Days?" Time.com, April 27, 2017.
- "25 Moments That Changed America: The Volstead Act Takes Effect (Jan. 17, 1920)," Time.com, June 28, 2016.
- "Reflecting on Notable Female Historians, in Celebration of Mother's Day," OUPblog, May 5, 2016.
- "Fighting for the Right to Party on Sundays: How the Struggle over Blue Laws Changed American Politics," Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities 36 (July/August 2015).
- "All Wet: Drink and the Fortification of American Democracy." Boston College Magazine, Fall 2014.
- "Desegregating New York City: The Amazing pre-Civil War History of Public Transit Integration in the North." Salon.com, August, 2014.
- "NYC's 19th Century Rosa Parks." New York Daily News, August 4, 2014.
- "What if the Fourth of July were Dry?" OUPblog, July 4, 2014.
- "Schools Can't Say 'Amen' to Coercion." Star Ledger (Newark, NJ), October, 25, 2005.
Reviews in Law & History Review, Journal of the Early Republic, American Nineteenth Century History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era.
Department of History
American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, American Society for Legal History, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Society for U.S. Intellectual History