Robert Hawkins

Assistant Professor and Interim Director of African American Studies

Bradley Hall 331
(309) 677-4171

Ph.D., American Studies, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
M.A., Southern Studies, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS
B.A., English and Biology, Westminster College, Fulton, MO


Robert Hawkins joined the Department of History in 2011 after earning his PhD from Saint Louis University. His research interests focus on the cultural and social history of the Jim Crow era United States, African American studies, masculinity, intersections of race and gender, and sonic culture.  He was the recipient of the 2011 Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize of the American Studies Association and of the 2011 Journal of Social History Award.  As a doctoral student, he was an active researcher and taught courses in American Culture and Women’s Studies at Saint Louis University and Fontbonne University.  While pursuing his M.A. at the University of Mississippi, he served as a documentary fieldworker for the Strawberry Plains Oral History Project, an effort to compile an environmental and cultural history of the Strawberry Plains plantation near Holly Springs, Mississippi.  He has previously worked at a wide variety of occupations, including: graduate assistant, census enumerator, bartender, delivery driver, forklift operator and warehouse worker.  He enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, cooking, pretending to know how to play the guitar, and sitting on his porch listening to trains in the distance.


  • HIS 317: American Masculinities
  • HIS 316: African-American History Since 1877
  • HIS 450: Senior Research Seminar in U.S. History (themes: race & masculinity in the early 20th century, W.E.B.                                 Du Bois and American Cultural History)
  • HIS 203: American History to 1877
  • HIS 204: American History Since 1877


Areas of research interest:

20th century United States, social and cultural history, African American studies, masculinity, labor and working-class studies, the Jim Crow era, and sonic culture

Selected publications, awards, and works in progress:

  • Working the Black Musician: Race, Masculinity, and the Definition of Work  in the Jim Crow Era (book manuscript, in progress)

  • “Brotherhood Men and Singing Slackers: A. Philip Randolph’s Rhetoric of Music and Manhood” in ReframingRandolph, Clarence Lang and Andrew Kersten, ed. ( New York University Press, 2015)

  • “The City as Stage: Performance, Identity, and Cultural Democracy” review essay, Journal of Urban History 41, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 157-164.

  • “’Industry Cannot Go on Without the Production of Some Noise’: New York City’s Street Music Ban and the Sound of Work in the New Deal-Era” Journal of Social History 46, no. 1 (Fall 2012): 106-123.

  • “Natural Born Ease Man?: Masculinity, Vagrancy Law, and Furry Lewis’s ‘Kassie Jones’” Callaloo 31, no. 4 (Fall 2008): 1128-1147.

  • Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, American Studies Association, 2011

  • Journal of Social History Award, Journal of Social History, 2011

  • Notable Publication Award, Bradley University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2015


  • Interim Director, African American Studies Program
  • Women’s and Gender Studies Committee
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Advisory Committee
  • Civil Rights Celebration Steering Committee (2013-2014)