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Speakers for Dixie's Great War: World War I and the American South

Speaker Biography

Dr. Jessica AdlerJessica Adler Headshot

Jessica L. Adler is an Assistant Professor of History and Health Policy & Management at Florida International University in Miami. Her first book, Burdens of War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), is about the origins and evolution of the U.S. veterans’ health system – now the nation’s largest integrated health care system. It traces changing expectations and perceptions of medical services and veterans’ benefits, and how politics and social circumstances shaped the structure, implementation, and experience of a federal health program. Adler’s research has appeared in The American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences and she has composed book chapters for edited volumes on military and medical history. She has also written about veterans’ issues for The Hill, the Miami Herald, and USA Today. Her current projects focus on the late twentieth century history of the veterans’ health program, and medical care in U.S. prisons. She has received support from the Florida Humanities Council, the FIU Office of the Provost Humanities Research Initiative, the Doris G. Quinn Foundation, the Institute for Political History, and the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Dr. Nancy BristowNancy Bristow Headshot

Nancy Bristow is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Puget Sound, where she also serves in the African American Studies Program and the Race and Pedagogy Institute. She is the author of two books, Making Men Moral: Social Engineering During the Great War (New York University Press, 1996), and American Pandemic: Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (Oxford University Press, 2012).  She is continuing her explorations of catastrophe and memory, while engaging the history of race more directly, in her current book project on the shooting of young African American students by law enforcement officers at Jackson State College in May 1970.  

Dr. Jonathan EbelDr. Jonathan Ebel

Jonathan Ebel is a professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in the religious history of the United States, and has written on the role religion plays in shaping American soldiers’ war experiences and the nation’s war memories. Ebel received his B.A. from Harvard in 1993 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2004. He served as a naval intelligence officer from 1993 – 1997, and continued in that capacity in the naval reserves until 2005.

 Ebel is the author of G.I. Messiahs: Soldiering, War, and American Civil Religion (Yale, 2015) and Faith in the Fight: Religion and the American Solider in the Great War (Princeton, 2010). He also co-edited From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America (California, 2012) with Professor John Carlson of Arizona State University.

 He is a Guggenheim Fellow for 2017-18 and is also candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 13th District. 

Dr. Jennifer Keene
Jennifer Keene Headshot

Jennifer D. Keene is a specialist in American military experience during World War I.  She is currently President of the Society of Military History. She has published three books on the American involvement in the First World War: Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America (2001), World War I: The American Soldier Experience (2011), and The United States and the First World War (2000).  She is also the lead author for an American history textbook, Visions of America: A History of the United States that uses a visual approach to teaching students U.S. history. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, including Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to France and Australia and Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship in International Studies.  She served as an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of War and American Society (2005) which won the Society of Military History's prize for best military history reference book.  She co-edited, along with Michael Neiberg of Finding Common Ground: New Directions in First World War Studies (2011).  In 2011 she won the Jack Miller Center Prize for the best military or diplomatic history essay published in Historically Speaking.  She has published numerous essays and journal articles on the war, served as an historical consultant for exhibits and films, and as an associate editor of the Journal of First World War Studies. She is currently working on several projects related to the upcoming centennial of World War I, including a book on African American soldiers and a new synthesis of the American experience during the war under contract with Oxford University Press. She is also a general editor for the “1914-1918-online,” peer-reviewed online encyclopedia, a major digital humanities project.  

Read the Happenings article featuring Dr. Keene and her Fulbright experience in Australia.

Dr. Ross Kennedy
Ross Kennedy Headshot

Ross A. Kennedy is the author of The Will to Believe: Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (Kent State, 2009), which won the Scott Bills Prize in Peace History.  He also edited A Companion to Woodrow Wilson (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) and has written extensively on American domestic politics and foreign policy during World War I.  Kennedy’s current project, entitled The United States and the Origins of World War II, analyzes how the policies of the United States contributed to the structure of Great Power politics from 1918 to 1939.

Dr. Derryn MotenDr. Derryn Moten

Dr. Derryn Moten was born in and grew up in Gary, IN. He received his BA English from Howard University, MS Library Science at Catholic University of America, MA American Studies from University of Iowa and PhD American Studies at University of Iowa. He serves as the Chair, History and Political Science at Alabama State University, Co-President, AFT Faculty-Staff Alliance, AFL-CIO, Alabama State University, Vice Chair, AFT Higher Education Policy and Planning Council and Southern Vice President, Alabama AFL-CIO.

Dr. Michael NeibergMichael Neigberg Headshot

Michael S. Neiberg is the inaugural Chair of War Studies in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. His published work specializes on the First and Second World Wars, notably the American and French experiences. The Wall Street Journal named his Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (Harvard University Press, 2011) one of the five best books ever written about the war. In October, 2012 Basic Books published his The Blood of Free Men, a history of the liberation of Paris in 1944. In May, 2015 Basic published his Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe, which won the Harry S Truman Prize. In October, 2016 Oxford University Press published his Path to War, a history of American responses to the Great War, 1914-1917.

Dr. Marty OlliffMarty Olliff Headshot

Marty Olliff received his PhD in US History from Auburn University in 1998.  He was assistant university archivist at Auburn, 1996-2002, then became director of The Wiregrass Archives at Troy University Dothan Campus in 2002.  He also serves as a professor of history at Troy University.

Olliff's research concerns the Progressive Era in Alabama. He edited The Great War in the Heart of Dixie:  Alabama During World War 1, University of Alabama Press, 2008, and his book Getting Out of the Mud: The Alabama Good Roads Movement and State Highway Administration, 1898-1930 was published by the University of Alabama Press in July 2017. 

Olliff is active in statewide organizations.  He served as president of the Alabama Historical Association, the Alabama Association of Historians, and the Society of Alabama Archivists, has sat on the board of directors of the Alabama Historical Commission and Alabama Humanities Foundation, and serves on the editorial board of The Alabama Review: A Quarterly Journal of Alabama History, and Provenance: The Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists.

See more at the website

Dr. Steve TroutDr. Steve Trout

Steven Trout is Chair of the Department of English and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of War and Memory at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. His books include On the Battlefield of Memory:  The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919-1941, Memorial Fictions:  Willa Cather and the First World War and World War I in American Fiction:  An Anthology of Short Stories (coedited with Scott D. Emmert). 

Dr. Ruth TrussRuth Truss Headshot

Dr. Ruth Truss is professor of history and chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Montevallo, Montevallo, Alabama. She received her Ph.D. from The University of Alabama with a focus on military history. Ruth is the author of several journal articles on the Alabama National Guard and of "The Alabama National Guard at Home and Abroad, 1914-1919" in Martin Olliff, ed., The Great War in the Heart of Dixie: Alabama in World War I (University of Alabama Press, 2008). She is also the co-editor with Dr. Sarah Wiggins of The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827-1835 (University of Alabama Press, 2013). 

Dr. Kara Dixon VuicKara Dixon Vuic Headshot

Kara Dixon Vuic is the LCpl Benjamin W. Schmidt Professor of War, Conflict, and Society in Twentieth-Century America at Texas Christian University. She is the author of Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War (Johns Hopkins University Press 2010), the editor of The Routledge Handbook on Gender, War, and the U.S. Military (2017), and co-editor of the University of Nebraska Press’s series “Studies in War, Society, and the Military.” Her current book project, “The Girls Next Door: American Women and Military Entertainment,” is under contract with Harvard University Press.

Dr. Chad WilliamsChad Williams Headshot

Chad Williams is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. Chad earned a BA in History and African American Studies from UCLA, and received both his MA and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. He specializes in African American and modern United States History, African American military history, the World War I era, and African American intellectual history. His first book, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era, was published in 2010 by the University of North Carolina Press. Torchbearers of Democracy won the 2011 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, the 2011 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and designation as a 2011 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. He is co-editor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2016) and Major Problems in African American History, Second Edition (Cengage Learning, 2016). Chad has published articles and book reviews in numerous leading journals and collections. He has earned fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. He is currently completing a study of W. E. B. Du Bois and World War I.



For more information, please contact Sea Talantis at or 205-348-3014 or Lauren Lewis at or 205-348-6222.