Dr Kate Dossett


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

I joined the University of Leeds in 2003. My research and teaching focuses on race and gender in the nineteenth and twentieth century United States.

My two main areas of interest are women's and gender history, in particular the construction of feminist knowledge through Feminist Archives and Women's Libraries, and cultural histories of the African Diaspora including black nationalism, the international black left, the Harlem Renaissance and black feminism. I am the author of the prize-winning book, Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism, and Integration in the United States, 1896-1935 (University of Florida Press, 2008). I have recently completed  a book on the history of radical black theatre in the United States Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal  (February 2020).

Current projects examine how ideas about race and gender shape knowledge production. My new project, Black Transnational Theatre, examines how black theatre manuscripts circulated around the Black Atlantic in the first half of the twentieth century. A second, ongoing project examines the making of feminist history and archives in Britain and the United States.You can follow this project on twitter @feministarchive and on the website Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures (FAFF)

I have supervised 10 PhD projects to completion on African American history, Motherhood and Protest, White Anti-Racism Activism, Women's Reproductive Health Activism, Black Internationalism, Black Power, Immigration Restriction, Working-class women's sexuality and fashion and masculinity. I currently supervise projects on Segregated Education in Washington, D.C. 1950-1954; Coloured Cosmopolitanism on the Pacific Coast, 1918-1941; Black and Latinx Activism in Los Angeles, 1978-1996 and Recovering a Black American Tradition of Animal Advocacy.

I am an active member of a number of professional associations including the British Association of American Studies for which I served as Deputy Chair until 2019.  I am also a founding member of the Women in American Studies Network.

Public engagement projects have included working with Leeds City Museums, Feminist Archive North and the Glasgow Women's Library on histories of women's archive activism and with the National Theatre, BBC Radio 4 (Great Lives "Shirley Chisholm" and Woman's Hour) on African American women's history and histories of women running for the U.S. presidency.

Research interests

Radical Black Theatre

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.  This research informed the National Theatre's workshop on African American Playwriting in the 20th century and is the subject of my new book entitled Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal  which will be published in February 2020. 

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

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • British Association of American Studies (Deputy Chair)
  • Women in American Studies Network
  • Historians of Twentieth Century United States
  • American Theater and Drama Society
  • African American Intellectual History Society

Student education

Undergradute teaching focuses primarily on the histories of race and gender in the United States from emanicipation in 1865 to the election of Barack Obama as President in 2008 and includes a women’s history course. I also teach a year long module on the Harlem Renaissance, which examines the flowering of Black Arts in the 1920s. I currently lead the brand new module Histories of Black Britain. 

At masters level I teach on the MA in Race and Resistance and lead research methods and theoretical core modules for the programme.

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, histories of feminism; Black Internationalism; Black Radicalism; the Harlem Renaissance; American Communism, the New Deal and Black Theatre history. I an also interested in supervising research projects on the histories of race, women, gender and sexuality in Britain and the history of feminist archives.


Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>