Angela D. Dillard is the Chair of the Department of History at the University of Michigan, and the Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies, History and in the Residential College, where she is a member of the Social Theory & Practice program. Dillard is an interdisciplinary scholar trained in history and political theory with a PhD in American Studies, from the UM’s Department of American Culture. She specializes in American and African-American intellectual history, particularly around issues of race, religion and politics — on both the Left and the Right sides of the political spectrum.
Her first book, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Now?: Multicultural Conservatism in America (NYU Press, 2001) was among the first critical studies of conservative political thought among African Americans, Latinos, women and homosexuals. Her second book, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit (University of Michigan Press, 2007), focuses on the interconnections of religion and political radicalism in Detroit from the 1930s to the 1960s. Both books reflect Professor Dillard’s interests in the study of political ideologies — how they emerge, how they get deployed in the context of political movements, and how they change over the course of time. She is currently at work on a new book on, tentatively Titled, A Different Shade of Freedom, which explores the (sometimes surprising) intersections between the civil rights movement and the rise of the New Right from the 1960s to the present. Part of this work has appeared under the banner of Civil Rights Conservatism.
Dillard maintains an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, including courses in African-American intellectual and religious history, on conservative thought, urban studies, the history of Detroit, and the use of science fiction as a form of social analysis. Most recently she has offered courses on “Race and Democracy” as a First Year Seminar in DAAS; on “Egalitarian Metropolis: Urban Studies, Urban Design and Social Justice in Detroit” in the Residential College; and a graduate level HistoryLab Seminar exploring the racist institutional past of the American Historical Association as part of a joint initiative between the AHA and the Department of History. Dillard also designed a mini-course on “Democracy & Debate Across LSA” in conjunction with the 2020-2021 Democracy & Debate theme semester for which she served as chair of the academic advisory committee. An online version of the course can be accessed via the Democracy & Debate Collection supported by Michigan Online. You can hear more about her work building the curriculum and events for the theme semester here, and check out her work as a co-editor on one of the final projects for the theme semester: The Kamala Harris Syllabus.
She is a faculty advisor of the Detroit School of Urban Studies and Co-PI on the Egalitarian Metropolis project, jointly sponsored by LSA and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. In addition Dillard serves on the Executive Committee for the Bentley Historical Library and on the Advisory Board for for the Mellon Foundation’s College & Beyond, II study, and on the American Council of Learned Societies’ Strategic Planning Group. As a native Detroiter, the city (and the state) is a site for much of her public history and community engagement work. She is a member of the State of Michigan’s Freedom Trail Commission, dedicated to preserving the histories of freedom seeking, abolition and the underground railroad in Michigan, and is part of the faculty team leading the Detroit River Story Lab. The Lab cultivates local partnerships to co-produce and elevate historically nuanced and contextually aware stories that center the Detroit River in the lives and struggles of its adjacent communities, with the ultimate goal of fostering a robust, place-based narrative infrastructure as a vital component to sustaining social and environmental justice efforts at the community level. You can read more about it at https://record.umich.edu/articles/u-ms-detroit-river-story-lab-to-amplify-waterways-narratives/ and under the “Public History/Civic Engagement” tab on this website.