Professor Curtis earned an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, where she worked with such scholars as David Roediger, T. J. Jackson Lears, David P. Thelen, and Kerby Miller. Dr. Curtis is currently Professor of History and the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies. She teaches mostly graduate-level courses in U.S. cultural history, American Studies, and the history of religion in America. In recent years, her chief project in the classroom and in research has been to integrate the meaning of American culture in multiracial and multiethnic society. She seeks ways to understand cultural collaboration and conflict across racial boundaries and to expose the power of culture to delimit opportunities, expression, acceptance, and citizenship. Dr. Curtis has published three major works: A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture (1991), which demonstrated the interplay between sacred and secular realms in the reformulation of Protestant thought and practice between the 1880's and 1920's; Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin (1994), which used the life of Scott Joplin to examine the cross-racial collaboration at the turn of the century that resulted in ragtime, a quintessentially American popular music; and The First Black Actors on the Great White Way (1998), which places the landmark event noted in the title in the cultural context of the United States on the eve of World War I.
List of Publications