Victor Bailey
Hall Center for the Humanities

History professor wins Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award

Mon, 07/15/2013

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities has announced the winner of the 2013 Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award. Jacob Dorman, assistant professor of history at the University of Kansas, won the award for his book, "Chosen People: The Rise of Black Israelite Religions," published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

Jacob DormanDorman will receive his award and deliver a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Hall Center. The event will be open to the public, and a book-signing and reception will follow.

Focusing on the rise of American Black Israelite religions following the Civil War, Dorman carefully documents the influence of Israelite practices and philosophies in the Holiness Christianity movement of the 1890s, the emergence of the Pentecostal movement in 1906 and later the rise of black Israelite synagogues in the northern cities of America. This intellectual journey continues with the black nationalist movement that led a group of African-Americans to migrate to Ethiopia in 1930, and moves to Jamaica with the rise of Rastafarianism.

The committee unanimously agreed that Dorman’s “impressive and extensive research” made the work the best in a year of strong applicants. “The scholarship, originality and execution of this work propelled it to the forefront of an outstanding field of entries in this year’s Smith competition. Even the casual reader will be compelled to read on, to understand the next incarnation of faith, the vision of the next prophet.”

Dorman received his doctorate in history from UCLA in 2004 and has held the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wesleyan University Center for the Humanities. His research interests include race, music, Rastafarianism, whiteness and contemporary black and Jewish identities.

The Byron Caldwell Smith Award was established at the bequest of Kate Stephens, a former KU student and one of KU’s first women professors. As an undergraduate, Stephens learned to love the study of Greek language and literature from Professor Byron Caldwell Smith. In his name, she established this award, given biennially to an individual who lives or is employed in Kansas and who has written an outstanding book published in the previous two years.

For more information, please contact the Hall Center by email or call (785) 864-4798.

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