Robert O. Self Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of American History, Professor of History, Chair of History

Born in North Carolina and raised and educated in the West, I have been fortunate to study and work in many different parts of the country. I teach and write about twentieth-century U.S. history, and my interests range widely over urban history, the history of American politics and political culture, and American society and culture in the long post-World War II era. My first book, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, 2003), won four professional prizes, including the James A. Rawley prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). My second book, All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s (Hill and Wang, 2012), is about gender, sexuality, and political culture in the U.S. from 1964 to 2004. I currently have three projects in various stages of development: 1) an anthology co-edited with Nancy Cott about gender, sexuality, and governance in the United States since the late nineteenth century; 2) a book project called The Best Years of Our Lives about houses, cars, and children in the twentieth-century American economy; and 3) a book project entitled Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee: Politics of the Body in Postwar America, about constructions and contests over gendered, raced, and sexed bodies in American politics since World War II. I am also the co-author (with Rebecca Edwards and Eric Hinderaker) of a college-level textbook, America's History, published by Bedford/St. Martin's.

Brown Affiliations

research overview

Robert Self studies the history of politics and political culture in the post-World War II United States. His work to date has focused on the interaction among social movements, the state, and larger social and cultural shifts in American life in the decades since 1945. He has worked on the black freedom movement, gender and sexual politics, modern conservatism, urban history, and the complex and ongoing struggles over political commitment and engagement in the twentieth century.

research statement

My most recent book, All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy since the 1960s, takes my long-standing interest in political culture and liberalism in new directions. National in scope, the book is an exploration of how the sexual revolution, feminism(s), gay and lesbian liberation, and the new Right transformed American politics between 1964 and 2004. I treat the interaction and collision of these forces as an expansive process that included the multiple gender disruptions of the period: from the Vietnam War's problematic male soldier to the politics of abortion, welfare, black power, and gay liberation. In between the Civil Rights Act (1964), Watts rioting (1965), and the Moynihan Report (1965) and the Bush-era insurgencies of the 2000s, I trace the search for new male and female political subjectivities and the contests over manhood, feminism(s), and gay rights that remade liberalism in the intervening decades.

funded research

2013-2014 Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University ($12,000)

2008-2009  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship

2007-2008  Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

2007-2008  Residential Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University (declined)

2007-2008  Cogut Center for the Humanities, Faculty Fellowship, Brown University (declined)

2006 Edwin and Shirley Seave Faculty Fellow, Pembroke Research Seminar, Brown University

2005 Wriston Curricular Development Grant, Brown University ($3,000)

2005 Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University ($15,000)

2004 Huntington Library, W. M. Keck Foundation and Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellow ($10,000)

2004 Center for 21st Century Studies Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (declined)

2002 Graduate School Research Committee, Research Grant, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee ($8,000)

2001 Rackham Summer Interdisciplinary Institute Fellowship, University of Michigan

2000 Office of the Vice President for Research Faculty Grant, University of Michigan ($2,000)

1999 American Philosophical Society, Research Grant ($2,000)

1999 Book Club of California, Manuscript Writing Fellowship ($2,000)

1997 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dissertation Fellowship ($12,000)

1997 National Science Foundation, Dissertation Grant ($9,500)

1997 Rondeau Evans Dissertation Fellowship, History Department, University of Washington ($1,500)

1995 Harry Bridges Graduate Research Fellowship, University of Washington