History Alumnus Jefferson Cowie wins 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship

UC Berkeley History Alumnus Jefferson Cowie

Photo courtesy of Jefferson Cowie

April 25, 2024

UC Berkeley History Alumnus Jefferson Cowie, who is a history professor at Vanderbilt University, was awarded a prestigious 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship

Cowie, who graduated with a history degree in 1987, is one of the country’s preeminent historians, and his body of work — including three previous, celebrated monographs, edited volumes, journal articles, essays and popular writing — excavates the interplay of class, race, labor, capital and inequality in U.S. history.

Over the past 20 years, Cowie’s work has consistently drawn critical praise for his astute exploration of American politics, culture and capitalism. In a review of Cowie’s book Stayin’ Alive, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote, “[Stayin’ Alive] will long stand as the finest and most sophisticated portrait of politics and culture in the American 1970s, and also as a model for how to talk about both political and cultural transformations without shortchanging either. … Cowie makes understanding his goal and condescension the enemy.” The Nation described Cowie as “one of our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience.”

Cowie was awarded the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for his book Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power.

Prior to teaching at Vanderbilt University, Cowie taught at Cornell University for 18 years, where he also served as chair of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. After graduating from Berkeley, Cowie earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Today, he remains a self-described “passionate and dedicated educator,” who asserts that above all, raising his kids is the most important experience of his life.