• Alison Kibler
Professor of American Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies



Office: STA317


I study the history of American popular culture, with particular focus on how social groups struggle for favorable representations on stage and screen and for equal access to public amusements.  My recent book, Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish and African American Struggles Over Race and Representation, 1890-1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), explores how racial and ethnic groups rose up against stereotypes of themselves. These groups often advocated race-based censorship (or what we refer to as hate speech codes today). This work was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Rockefeller Foundation.

My editorial for History News Network -- "The Long History of Hate Speech"-- captures the main themes of Censoring Racial Ridicule.

My first book, Rank Ladies: Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville (University of North Carolina Press, 1999) traced women's central roles in the audience, on stage and in the labor movement of the most popular live entertainment of the early twentieth century.

My current research project, "Media Rights," focuses on second-wave feminists and television reform, particularly their use of the Federal Communications Commission's "fairness doctrine" to pressure television stations to improve their representation of women and feminism.


Ph.D.           The University of Iowa, American Studies Program, 1994

M. A.            The University of Iowa, American Studies Program, 1991

B. A.             Brandeis University, American Studies Department, 1987

                        summa cum laude   Phi Beta Kappa

Grants & Awards

Rockefeller Fellowship, Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy, Bryn Mawr College, September 2004-September 2005 ($40,000).

American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, September 2000 - September 2001 ($25,000)

Scholar-in-Residence, Pennsylvania State Archives, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2005 ($1500)

Loewenstein-Wiener Fellowship, American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, 2002 ($2500)

Hibernian Research Award, CUSHWA Center for the Study of American Catholicism, 1999 ($2000)


Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish and African American Struggles Over Race and Representation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Rank Ladies:  Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), cloth and paper.

Co-winner, Emily Toth Prize in Feminism and Popular Culture, Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

“Paddy, Shylock and Sambo: Irish, Jewish and African American Efforts to Ban Racial Ridicule from Stage and Screen” In Cultural Contestation and the Symbolic Landscape: Politics by Other Means? ed. Marc Howard Ross, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

“Pigs, Green Whiskers, and Drunken Widows: Irish Nationalists and the ‘Practical Censorship of McFadden’s Row of Flats in 1902 and 1903.” Journal of American Studies 42.3 (December 2008): 489-514.

“The Stage Irishwoman,” Journal of American Ethnic History 24.3 (Spring 2005): 5-30. 

Student Collaborations


Students in my senior seminar in American Studies have produced two collaborative research projects about popular entertainment in Lancaster. The first was an exploration of racial division in the audience and the racial representation on stage a the Fulton Opera House; the second was an examination of the 100-year history of Lancaster's now-defunct amusement park, Rocky Springs. In the 1960s F&M professors and alumni were involved in the legal campaign to desegregate the swimming pool at this park.

Speaking Engagements Related to
'Censoring Racial Ridicule' 


September 15: Skidmore College, public lecture

October 17: Brandeis University, American Studies Conference

November 2: Penn State, public lecture

In the News

Lancaster County's Struggle for Desegregated Swimming

While the recent viral video of a white police officer waving his gun at black teenagers at a suburban Texas pool party might seem remote to Pennsylvanians, racial conflicts at swimming pools hit close to home. AMS Professor Alison Kibler discusses the history of segregation at Lancaster swimming pools in this article for Lancster Newspapers.  

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Story 3/18/2015

Censoring Racial Ridicule: A Century of Fighting Hate Speech

Early 20th-century entertainment that depicted the Irish as childlike drunks, Jewish people as greedy manipulators, and African-Americans as violent sexual predators spurred these groups to challenge...

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Return to Rocky Springs Protests

Protests against the segregation of Rocky Springs Pool in Lancaster, Pa., were one focus of an exhibit created by Alison Kibler's American Senior Seminar in 2005. Lancaster Newspapers reported on the exhibit.  

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