Robert J. Norrell

Robert J. Norrell

Honored Visiting Graduate Faculty
Ashbrook Center
Office Number: 


Robert Jefferson Norrell is Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, where he has held the Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence since 1998. He writes mainly about American race relations. In 2015, Norrell published Alex Haley and the Books that Changed a Nation, which covers the rise to national celebrity and great literary influence of Haley. In 2009 his revisionist biography, Up from History: the Life of Booker T. Washington, appeared 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 ten other books on the history of the American South. He is the author of 25 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 master's 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.

Research Areas

American Race Relations
The American South


PhD, University of Virginia
MA, University of Virginia
BA, University of Virginia

Courses Taught

AHG 510 - Booker T. Washington & W.E.B. DuBois
AHG 620 - The Reform Tradition in America



Registration begins via WebAdvisor for the Spring 2019 semester.


Students who anticipate completing their degree in time for the May 2019 commencement must register for graduation with the AU Registrar's Office.