They’ve had numerous op-eds in The New York Times, are publishing a book together and just got back from a conference where they joined scholars from Yale, Harvard and Columbia.
Fresno State’s husband-wife team of U.S. history professors, Drs. Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts, are superstars in the world of academia, and they’re elevating Fresno State’s reputation in the process.
Kytle did his undergraduate work at Haverford College. Roberts got her bachelor’s at Princeton University. The couple met in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they both received master’s and doctoral degrees in history.
Now, they’re answering a few questions for Fresno State News.
In the last year, we each published our first book. Ethan’s book, “Romantic Reformers and the Antislavery Struggle in the Civil War Era,” was released in August. It focuses on the ideas and actions of five abolitionists — Theodore Parker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Robison Delany and Thomas Wentworth Higginson — who became leading figures in the final years of the crusade against slavery in the United States.
Blain’s first book, “Pageants, Parlors and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South,” was published in March 2014. It became a 2014 Publishers Weekly Notable African-American title. Her book explores how the pursuit of beauty in the South was linked to the tumultuous racial divides of the region.
Together, we have published 15 works of scholarship, including two articles and a book chapter in “Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History,” which was awarded the 2013 Allen Noble Book Award by the Pioneer America Society.
To reach a broader audience, we co-authored 10 op-eds over the past five years. The most recent, “Birth of a Freedom Anthem,” traced the origins of the protest song “We Shall Overcome” to its slave roots. It was featured in the Sunday Review of The New York Times on March 15.
Given our successful track record at The New York Times, last year the editorial board asked us to write an op-ed about a topic not related to our work on slavery — the Central Valley drought. The Times published this essay in the print edition in February 2014.
What did it mean to you to be published in such high-profile outlets?
It is, of course, very exciting. Publishing with a university press is sort of the gold standard for academic historians, and so to have our books come out with top university presses