Dr Kate Dossett

Senior Lecturer in American History; Director of Postgraduate Research

+44 (0)113 34 33288

Summary: Women and Gender History; U.S. History; African American History; The Harlem Renaissance; Black Theatre; Feminist Archives

Location: School of History, Michael Sadler


Research Interests

Kate Dossett joined the University of Leeds in 2003. Her research focuses on race and gender in the nineteenth and twentieth century United States. Her two main areas of interest are women and gender history, in particular the construction of feminist knowledge through Feminist Archives and Women's Libraries, and histories of the African Diaspora including black nationalism, the international black left, the Harlem Renaissance and black feminism. 

Current Projects

Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures (FAFF)

An international and collaborative project, Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures is concerned with gendered histories of archives and their relationship to history making and feminist activism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In particular it is interested in the histories of Women’s Libraries and Feminist Archives in shaping women’s lives both in the past and in the future. Recent projects and events include:

Archiving Women in Film & TV

The Future of Women’s Pasts

Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal

This British Academy funded project explores how and why black theatre became such an important forum for black political debate in the 1930s. It examines black theatre manuscripts as they were written, debated and performed by black theatre troupes in the 1930 and includes both black authored manuscripts written for and performed by Negro Units of the Federal Theatre such as Theodore Ward’s Big White Fog, as well as white-authored race dramas such as Haiti which were remodelled and produced by black troupes and communities.


Dossett, Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism and Integration 1896-1935 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008) winner of the 2009 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize awarded by the Southern Association for Women Historians for best book in southern women's history.

Dossett, "Gender and the Dies Committee Hearings on the Federal Theatre Project," Journal of American Studies, Vol. 47:4. November 2013.

Dossett, "Black Women and Work: A'Lelia Walker and the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company," in Major Problems in U.S. Women's History 5th edition (2014).

Dossett, “Commemorating Haiti on the Harlem Stage,” Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Volume 22:1, (2010).

Dossett: “Staging the Garveyite Home: Black Masculinity, Failure and Redemption in Theodore Ward’s Big White Fog.African American Review Volume 43:4,(2009).

Dossett, ‘“I try to live somewhat in keeping with my reputation as a wealthy woman”: A’Lelia Walker and the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company,’ Journal of Women’s History, Volume 21.2, (2009).

Dossett, "Black Women and Work: A'Lelia Walker and the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company," in Major Problems in U.S. Women's History 5th edition (2014).

Dossett, “Black Women, Work and Freedom,” in J. Campbell and R. Fraser eds., Reconstruction: Perspectives in American Social History (ABC-CLIO, 2008): 135-159.

Dossett, “Amy Jacques Garvey” and “Jessie Fauset,” in Richard M. Juang and Noelle Morrissette eds., Africa and the Americas, (ABC-CLIO, 2008).

Recent and Forthcoming Talks and Conferences

March 2016: “ Making Women’s History: Activism and Archives in the Twentieth Century” Leeds City Museum.

February 2016: “The Radical Roots of Respectability: Black Women’s Activism and the Long Freedom Struggle.” Keynote Lecture HOTCUS Winter Symposium, University of Dundee.

June 2015: “Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures,” The Future of Women’s Pasts Conference, University of Leeds.

May 2015: “Why the History of Women’s Archives Matters,” Archiving Women in Film & TV workshop, University of Leeds.

April 2015: “Why U.S. History is so often a History of Men.” 60th Annual Conference of the British Association of American Studies, Northumbria University. “

November 2014: "“A Chance to Be Myself:” Race and Realism  in 1930s Political Theatre," University of East Anglia.

October 2014: "Women, Gender & Sexuality in the Archive," Engaging Archives Workshop, University of Leeds.

September 2014: "Whose Archive Is it?: Why we need a history of Feminist Archives," Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. http://womenslibrary.org.uk/event/feminist-ethics-in-the-archive/

April 2014; "Radical New Deal Theatre," Boston-Cambridge-Princeton Race and Politics Conference, Cambridge, U.K.

October 2013: " 'Qualified Women': Women, Performance and Political Labor in the New Deal," Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

June 2013: "Women, Performance and Political Culture in the New Deal." Queen Mary American History Symposium.

May 2013: "Our Actors May Become Our Emancipators": Race and Realism in 1930s American Political Theatre," University of Nottingham, American Studies Seminar.

December 2012: "John Henry and Bigger Thomas on the American Stage" Birmingham University American Studies Seminar.

April 2012: “Un-American Performances: Gender and the Dies Committee Hearings on the Federal Theatre Project” British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, Manchester University

October 2012: “Black Theatres for Black Heroes,” Alain Locke Conference, Rothermere Institute, Oxford University.

March 2012 “Un-American Women: Gender, Performance and the Dies Committee Hearings on the Federal Theatre Project” History of Women in the Americas Annual Conference, Brunel University

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome research students interested in any aspect of gender and race in nineteenth and twentieth century U.S. history and American studies including: Women and Gender History, Black Internationalism; Black Radicalism; the Harlem Renaissance; American Communism, the New Deal and Black Theatre history.

Research students

Lauren McCarthy: Recovering a Black American Tradition of Animal Advocacy

Sabina Peck: Multiracial Activism around Reproductive Rights in America from the Second Wave of Feminism

Claire Martin, Constructing woman: medical discourse, popular culture and society in Britain 1870-1930

Danielle Sprecher: Fashion for the High Street: The Design and Making of Menswear in Leeds 1945-1980

Gina Denton: Motherhood and Protest in the United States, 1960-1989 (Completed 2015)

 Jonathan Wright: Farmers to the Front: Benjamin Tillman and the South Carolina Farmers' Movement (Completed 2014)

Tom Davies: Black and White Politics -The Federal Government and Black Power, 1960-1972

Say Burgin: White Anti-Racism Organising in 1960s and 70s U.S. Social Movements   (completed 2013)

Julio Decker: The Immigration Restriction League and the Political Regulation of Immigration, 1894-1924 (completed 2012  )   

Nicholas Grant: African Americans, Gender and the Global networks of Black Self-Determination, 1940-1960 (completed  2012)  

Daylin Myers: Women, Religion and Conversion (completed 2013)


Undergraduate Modules

Level 2

HIST 2442: Black Politics from Emancipation to Obama
HIST 2441: Race, Gender & Cultural Protest Since 1865

Level 3 Special Subject:

HIST 3240: The Harlem Renaissance: Black Culture and Politics 1919-1940:

Postgraduate Modules

Kate Dossett teaches on the MA in Race & Resistance.  Race and Resistance is a unique interdisciplinary programme that crosses geographical boundaries and offers students a conceptual and thematic education in approaches to race and resistance. She teaches on the core course for Race and Resistance 'Approaches to Race' and offers an option module Women, Gender & Sexuality: Archives and Approaches 

Community Engagement

Kate Dossett regularly hosts Widening Participation workshops and gives public talks on black history. These range from Black History Month workshops on campus for local school pupils, to public lectures at institutions such as the National Maritime Museum and consultant work for the U.S. National Park Service.

She is currently working with Feminist Archives and Women’s Libraries to explore the relationship between women’s archives, activism and history. For more information see http://www.feminist-archives.leeds.ac.uk/events/