Photo of Renee Romano
  • Professor of History, Comparative American Studies, and Africana Studies
  • Chair of History
  • Affiliate of the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies


  • PhD, Stanford University, 1996
  • BA, Yale University, 1990


Renee Romano specializes in modern American history, with research interests in the racial politics of the post-WWII United States, African American history, civil rights, and historical memory.

She is the author or coeditor of five books: 
Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America (Harvard University Press, 2003); 
The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006); 
Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History that Talks Back (University of Georgia Press, 2012);
Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America's Civil Rights Murders (Harvard University Press, 2014); and
Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past (Rutgers University Press, 2018).

Professor Romano teaches courses on a wide range of subjects, including the United States in World War II, American historical memory, race and sexuality, the history of whiteness, U.S. foreign policy, public history, and historical justice. 

At Oberlin, she has served as the codirector of the traveling exhibit, “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience.” She also has been a historical advisor for the Kent State May 4th Walking Tour and Visitor’s Center, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Radio Diaries.

Romano currently sits on the executive board of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer.



  • Renee Romano Gives Interviews, Presentations

    August 6, 2018

    Renee Romano, the Robert S. Danforth Professor of history, gave interviews and presentations about her new co-edited collection, Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past. The book explores the musical’s historical accuracy, whether it’s revolutionary, and why it has been so incredibly popular. Romano did an interview about Hamilton for WCPN Ideastream’s The Sound of Applause on July 16, a day before the touring show of Hamilton opened in Cleveland. The collection has been featured in stories on and in the podcast, In the Past Lane. Romano and several of the volume’s contributors conducted a panel discussion at the Society of Cincinnati in Washington, D.C. on August 2, 2018.

  • Renee Romano Writes Editorial

    July 30, 2018

    Robert S. Danforth Professor of History Renee Romano’s editorial, “The Trauma of Internment,” appeared in the June 25, 2018 Washington Post. The editorial compares the impact of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans to the practice of separating migrant families at the U.S. border. Romano recounts the story of Alice, a Japanese-American teenager whose parents were arrested after Pearl Harbor, who is still now affected by the legacy of her separation from them and her imprisonment in the Jerome incarceration camp. Romano learned about Alice’s story while working on “Courage and Compassion,” a public history exhibit that focused on the Japanese American World War II experience and the stories of Japanese American students who studied at Oberlin during the war.

  • Renee Romano Appointed as Distinguished Lecturer

    February 1, 2017

    Renee Romano, Robert S. Danforth professor of history and professor of comparative American studies and Africana studies, has been appointed a distinguished lecturer by the Organization of American Historians (OAH). The OAH distinguished lecturer program operates as a speakers bureau dedicated to American history.

  • Renee Romano Interviewed on NPR

    February 22, 2016

    Renee Romano, professor of history, comparative American studies, and Africana studies, was featured in an interview on the National Public Radio program The Takeaway on Monday, February 22. In the interview, Romano discussed ongoing battles over how the past should be remembered and what should be done with memorials and monuments to controversial figures such as Woodrow Wilson and Robert E. Lee. Visit this webpage to listen to the interview.

  • Renee Romano Gives Lecture

    October 22, 2015

    Renee Romano, professor and chair of history and professor of comparative American studies and Africana studies, delivered the 14th Annual American Studies Lecture at the University of Leicester in Leicester, England, on October 19. The title of her lecture was “‘The Great Force of History’: Collective Memory, White Innocence, and Making Black Lives Matter."

  • Renee Romano Gives Plenary Address

    July 9, 2015

    Renee Romano, professor of history, comparative American studies, and Africana studies, gave the opening plenary address at the Southern Association of Women Historians Conference, which was held in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. Her address, “The Limits of Commemoration: Civil Rights Memory and the Enduring Challenge of Innocence,” explored the seeming disjuncture between the extensive commemoration of the civil rights movement and our contemporary moment of pervasive inequality and racial violence.

  • Renee Romano's Article Appears in the American Historian

    December 9, 2014

    The article "Beyond 'Self-Congratulatory Celebration': Complicating Civil Rights Anniversaries" by Renee Romano, Professor of History, Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies, appears in the November 2014 issue of the American Historian, the new magazine of the Organization of American Historians. Romano discussed Ferguson and the Eric Garner cases on the NPR program the Takeaway December 5. She was also quoted in a December 2 New York Times article about the "Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations" oral history project at the Brooklyn Historical Society, for which she serves as a consultant.

  • Renee Romano Publishes Book, Presents

    November 21, 2014

    Renee Romano, professor of history, comparative American studies, and africana studies, has published a new book with Harvard University Press. “Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America's Civil Rights Murders” examines the phenomenon of the reopening and contemporary prosecutions of civil rights era killings.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, few whites who turned to violence to try to impede the struggle for black civil rights were even charged with the murders they committed in the effort to uphold white supremacy. But in recent decades, state and federal authorities—often facing intense lobbying from families of victims—have reopened cold cases and tried now-elderly men in many of the most infamous racially motivated murders of the civil rights era. Drawing on sources ranging from trial transcripts to made-for-TV movies, Romano explores the political pressures and cultural developments that drove the legal system to revisit these decades-old murders, what happened in the courtroom when cases came before a jury, how trials have been represented in popular culture, and how different groups—from progressive activists to conservative politicians—have sought to use contemporary prosecutions to further their political agendas.

    In addition, she recently gave a talk about the book at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as giving a paper entitled “Historical Memory and the Contemporary Prosecution of Civil Rights-Era Crimes” at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

  • Renee Romano Discusses Her New Book Racial Reckoning on The Takeaway

    October 21, 2014

    Professor of History, Comparative American Studies, and Africana Studies Renee Romano spoke with host John Hockenberry about her new book, Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America's Civil Rights Murders (Harvard University Press) on the National Public Radio program The Takeaway on Wednesday, October 15. Racial Reckoning explores the reopenings and recent prosecutions of unresolved murder cases from the civil rights era, such as the 1963 Birmingham church bombing and the 1964 murders of Freedom Summer activists Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. On The Takeaway, Romano discussed what these murders reveal about America's racial past and what the contemporary trials illustrate about racial politics today.