Professor Robert J. Norrell is Professor of History and Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence at the University of Tennessee.
A native of Alabama, he earned the B.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. Professor Norrell writes mainly about American race relations. In 2009 Norrell published a revisionist biography, Up from History: the Life of Booker T. Washington, to some acclaim. In 2005 he published a well-reviewed interpretive synthesis of race relations in the twentieth-century United States, The House I Live In: Race in the American Century. His book Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1986. He has published other books on the history of the American South. He is the author of 20 scholarly articles. He has given invited lectures at Heidelberg Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Tübingen, and several other universities.
Professor Norrell teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in southern history and graduate courses in recent United States history. He has directed doctoral dissertations on education reform, environmental history, black religion, southern economic history, race relations in housing, and modern southern political history. His numerous masters students have worked on topics in race relations and southern history. His students are now employed at various universities and high schools around the United States.