You don't know Jake?

San Franciso, California, 2013.


about jake

Jacob S. Dorman is an award-winning historian and professor who was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and whose experience in racially diverse public schools, as a musician, and as a fan of jazz and hip hop drove him to attempt to understand race and racism in all their forms. In light of the Crown Heights Riots of 1991 and the Los Angeles Riots of the following year, he gravitated towards cultural studies and loved the rigor and surprising ironic twists of archival historical research, which constantly demonstrated that the past was not as one might expect it to be.

At Stanford University he was strongly influenced by professors such as cultural studies maven Sylvia Wynter, Martin Luther King Paper editor Clay Carson, religious studies professor Arnold Eisen, and the late George Fredrickson, an authority on the history of racism. He  graduated summa cum laude with a degree in history in 1996.

After living in Washington D.C. and New York City, he earned a Ph.D. in U.S. History focusing on African American history at UCLA in 2004, under the guidance of Brenda Stevenson, and was fortunate to study with such stellar professors as Stevenson, Carlo Ginzburg, Lynn Hunt, Gary Nash, Henry Yu, Donald Cosentino, and the late Joyce Appleby. A onetime employee of both the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Papers at UCLA and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers at Stanford University, Dorman won the Andrew J. Mellon Fellowship at Wesleyan University and was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Kansas from 2007 to 2017.

Dorman's scholarship has received fellowship support from many sources, including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as the libraries or research institutes of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Duke.

He is the author of nine scholarly articles and book chapters, forty-one conference presentations, and several op-eds. His 2013 Oxford University Press book won three book awards, including the prize for African and African Diaspora History from the American Historical Association, was tagged an "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice magazine and named an Oxford University Press bestseller and reprinted in 2016.

Dorman is at work on a sequel, The Princess and the Prophet: Magic, Race, and the Birth of Moorish Muslims in America, on the origins of Prophet Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish Science Temple of America, the forerunners of the Nation of Islam and the first mass Muslim organization in America of any kind. This book will be the first to document the prophet’s prior identity and life in show business, starting as the first child star on Broadway in 1893, and continuing on as a Hindu magician in the circus and a trumpeter in Chicago. He then became a root doctor in the New York area, a fact that has been documented by other scholars, but this book breaks new ground in showing the extent to which the prophet embedded himself in Chicago’s Black political machine between 1925 and his death in 1929— and also the extent to which powerful whites like utilities king Samuel Insull bought votes on the South Side in the era of corrupt and deadly reign of Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson and his backer, Al Capone.

As a professor, Dorman is committed to using humor, active learning, and various modalities including music and film to reach students and to undermine the elitist notion that education is supposed to sort the best from the rest. He instead concentrates on scaffolding skills throughout courses so that all students can thrive no matter how good or poor their previous academic training has been, since preparation is most often the residue of class background, not of intelligence or ability.

Students have rewarded his egalitarian approach with rave reviews: in a recent class, the most frequent student description of Dorman as a professor was "awesome," followed by "good," and "great." One student wrote: "You are a very kind and engaging teacher who cares about your students learning and being well-rounded informed individuals. Thank you for a great semester. You are a fantastic teacher, which is why I took another one of your classes...."

Since January 2018 he has been Associate Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno, and also teaches in the university’s Core Humanities Program.

When Jake is not working he can usually be found spending time with his family and enjoying the outdoors in the Sierra Nevada mountains.