Jim Ralph
Office
Old Chapel 207
Tel
(802) 443-5320
Email
ralph@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: Mondays, 1 to 2 p.m., Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to noon, and by appointment.

Jim Ralph is the Rehnquist Professor of American History and Culture and has taught in the History Department since 1989.  He specializes in American History, particularly the Civil Rights Movement.  Jim is also the Dean for Faculty Development and Research and the director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.

Jim is the author of Northern Protest:  Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement (1993). 

He is a co-editor of, and contributor to The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2016).  This book has recently been released in paperback.  For an excerpt from this book in The Chicago Reporter see http://chicagoreporter.com/the-roots-of-the-chicago-freedom-movement/.  And for a recent story about the Chicago Freedom Movement and this book, see http://time.com/5096937/martin-luther-king-jr-picture-chicago/?iid=sr-link1.

Jim is also at work on a history of the struggle for racial equality from the 1840s to the present in Peoria, Illinois.  For a story on this project, see https://www.pjstar.com/story/news/2015/09/22/vermont-professor-digging-into-history/33505520007/

His most recent publications include a foreword to Robert McKersie’s memoir of his involvement in the Chicago civil rights movement, A Decisive Decade: An Insider’s View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s (2013), a chapter  “Black Church Divisions and Civil Rights Activism in Chicago,” in R. Drew Smith, ed.,  From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and the Broad Terrain of Civil Rights (2013), and a foreword to Martin Deppe’s Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966-1971 (2017).

Courses Taught

Course Description

Chicagoland
In this course we will explore Chicago’s significance by focusing on its physical and spatial character. Moving from the 19th to the 21st century, we will examine the 1871 fire; the 1893 World’s Fair; the settlement house movement; the rise of modern architecture; the emergence of Black Chicago and development of a multi-ethnic, multi-class metropolis spread across various neighborhoods and suburbs; and recent planning efforts to revitalize the city as a space for all Chicagoans. Interdisciplinary in scope, the course will draw on a range of texts and theoretical perspectives to show the generative importance of Chicago’s rich and varied landscape. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS

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Course Description

Cities in Crisis
“I imagine the American city to be a growing tree,” the historian Sam Bass Warner has written. “As it bursts forth each spring, it is set upon by clouds of parasites.” In this seminar we will expand upon Warner’s insight and explore how American cities have coped in the past with natural disaster, the flight of capital, racial and class tensions, injurious planning, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We will turn to case studies of individual cities in crisis, including New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit, in the quest for an understanding of patterns of vulnerabilities and resilience in urban American history. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Chicagoland
In this course we will explore Chicago’s significance by focusing on its physical and spatial character. Moving from the 19th to the 21st century, we will examine the 1871 fire; the 1893 World’s Fair; the settlement house movement; the rise of modern architecture; the emergence of Black Chicago and development of a multi-ethnic, multi-class metropolis spread across various neighborhoods and suburbs; and recent planning efforts to revitalize the city as a space for all Chicagoans. Interdisciplinary in scope, the course will draw on a range of texts and theoretical perspectives to show the generative importance of Chicago’s rich and varied landscape. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, HIS

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Course Description

The Long Struggle for Civil Rights and Black Freedom
The modern civil rights movement is the central focus of this course, but it offers more than a survey of events from Montgomery to Memphis. It explores the pre-World War II roots of the modern black freedom struggle, the complex array of local, regional, and national initiatives in the 1950s and 1960s, the competing strategies for empowerment offered by Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, and developments since the 1970s, including the rise of Black Lives Matter. This course employs a "race relations" perspective, stressing the linkages among the experiences of African Americans, whites, and other groups. 2. Hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, HIS, NOR

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Course Description

Special research projects may only be taken during the Junior or Senior year, preferable after taking HIST 0600. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study I
The optional History Senior Thesis is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. Approval is required. Students submit thesis proposals in the spring before the year that they choose to write their thesis. Students generally begin their thesis in the fall and complete it during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring. All students must attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops in fall and winter semesters and work with a faculty advisor to complete a 55-70 page paper. Please see detailed guidelines under history requirements.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Study II
With departmental approval, senior history majors may write a two-term thesis under an advisor in the area of their choosing. The final grade is applied to both terms. Students must submit thesis proposals in the spring before the academic year that they choose to write their thesis. They must attend the Thesis Writers' Workshops held in the fall and winter of the academic year in which they begin the thesis. The department encourages students to write theses during the fall (0700) and winter terms (0701), but with the permission of the chair, fall/spring and winter/spring theses are also acceptable. Under exceptional circumstances, the department may approve a thesis initiated in the spring of an academic year and finished in the fall of the following year. Further information about the thesis is available from the department.

Terms Taught

Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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