Micki McElya

Professor, History

Ph.D., New York University
Professor of History
Affiliated faculty: Africana Studies Institute, American Studies, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Areas of Specialty

Histories of Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Racial Formation in the United States from the Civil War to the present, with an emphasis on Political Culture and Memory; Cultural History; Political History; Feminist & Queer Theories

Current Research

Micki McElya’s current book project is No More Miss America! How Protesting the 1968 Pageant Changed a Nation, forthcoming from Avid Reader Press (Simon & Schuster). This work is supported by a UConn Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship, 2021-2022, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars Award, 2022-2023.


Micki McElya received her B.A. in history from Bryn Mawr College in 1994 and a Ph.D. from New York University in 2003. Before joining the faculty of the University of Connecticut, she was an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama (2003-2008).

McElya is currently an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer.

Her recently published book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2017 and a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. It was a co-winner of the 2018 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies, winner of the inaugural Sharon Harris Book Prize from UConn’s Humanities Institute, and finalist for the 2016 Jefferson Davis Book Award from the American Civil War Museum.

McElya’s first book, Clinging to Mammy, won a 2007 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. She was named a “Top Young Historian” by the History News Network in 2008.


“Almost 90,000 dead and no hint of national mourning. Are these deaths not ‘ours’?, Washington Post, Sunday, May 17, 2020: B1 (Online May 15, 2020).

“A Short History of the Social Justice Ally,” in Adam McGee, Laden Osman, Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, Ed Pavlíc, and Evie Shockley, eds., Allies: Boston Review/Forum 12 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019): 123-132 (Online December 30, 2019).

Is Pete Buttigieg the Face of Stonewall?, Boston Review, June 21, 2019.

“The Education of an Ambivalent Feminist: Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir, Boston Review, June 29, 2018.

“The Faithful Slave: How Alex Tizon’s Essay Echoes a Trope with Deep Roots in American History,” The Atlantic, May 31, 2017.


The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016, pbk. 2019)

Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).

Articles & Essays

The White Slave: American Girlhood, Race, and Memory at the Turn of the Century,  in  Child Slavery Before and After Emancipation: An Argument for Child-Centered Slavery Studies, Anna Mae Duane, ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017): 80-102.

Unknowns: Commemorating Black Women’s Civil War Heroism, in Kirk Savage, ed., The Civil War in Art and Memory (Washington, DC: Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, distributed by Yale University Press, 2016): 213-226.

Remembering 9/11’s Pentagon Victims and Reframing History in Arlington National Cemetery, Radical History Review: Special Issue Historicizing 9/11 no. 111 (Fall 2011): 51-63.

A Response to Trevor Burnard’s America the Good, America the Brave, America the Free,  Journal of American Studies vol. 45, no. 3 (September 2011): 421-425.

To “Choose Our Better History”: Assessing the Obama Presidency in Real Time, American Quarterly vol. 63, no. 1 (March 2011): 179-189.

Painter of the Right: Thomas Kinkade’s Political Art, in Alexis L. Boylan, ed., Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall (Duke University Press, 2011): 54-80

Trashing the Presidency: Race, Class and the Clinton-Lewinsky Affair, in Lauren Berlant and Lisa Duggan, eds., Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the Public Interest (NYU Press, 2001).

Faculty Page

Micki McElya
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