History Prof. Leslie Harris announced as One Book One Northwestern faculty chair


Daily file illustration by Laya Neelakandan

As the faculty chair, History Prof. Leslie Harris will organize content for the new One Book selection “How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

Northwestern announced history Prof. Leslie Harris as the One Book One Northwestern faculty chair for the 2022-23 academic year, according to a Monday newsletter. 

Harris is a slavery historian and will organize content for next year’s One Book selection, “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with The History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith. The book, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction in 2021, covers the history of slavery in America. 

“Smith presents both historical research and interviews with ordinary people at historic sites, thus painting a picture both of history and a variety of people’s contemporary — and often inaccurate — understandings of it,” the newsletter said. 

Harris edited one of the book’s chapters about slavery in New York City. In the newsletter, she said she is looking forward to seeing the community engage with the ways local and national histories are portrayed, particularly the histories of Native American people and women in the U.S.

With her award-winning research, Harris has focused on challenging dominant ideas surrounding race and history. Her fields of interest include American history, gender and sexuality history and African diaspora and African American history.

“I see the book as important for its content, but also as modeling a kind of inquiry into the very geography around us — including at Northwestern, in Evanston and in the Chicago area,” Harris said in the newsletter. 

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