Matt Lassiter

Associate Professor, History Department

Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Contact Information



Publications (Books)

The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism (Oxford University Press, 2009), coedited with Joseph Crespino of Emory University.  Also view the Table of Contents.  We co-wrote the introduction, "The End of Southern History," and I also contributed chapter 1, "De Jure/De Facto Segregation: The Long Shadow of a National Myth."

**View C-Span interview about The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism

**This anthology began as a conference: "The End of Southern History?  Integrating the Modern South and the Nation", held March 23-24, 2006, at Emory University in Atlanta.

**"End of Southern History?" conference in the news: "The South Returns to America," Atlanta Constitution (March 26, 2006)

**"New Generation of Scholars Argues South Now Like Rest of U.S. on Race," Newhouse News Service (March 21, 2006)


The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton University Press, 2006), available from the PUP website and other sources.  The paperback version was released in August 2007.  The above link includes purchasing information, a brief description, blurbs, and the table of contents.  The PUP website also includes the complete Introduction to The Silent Majority.

**Winner of the 2007 Lillian Smith Book Award presented by the Southern Regional Council. 

**The Silent Majority—selected media features and book reviews:  "Interpreting Some Overlooked Stories from the South," New York Times (May 1, 2007)

**Journal of American History (Dec. 2006)

**"White Blight," In These Times (Sept. 12, 2006)

**"Politics as Usual: How the Republicans Came to Rule the South" Boston Review (May/June 2006)

**Review in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (April 30, 2006)

**"The State of Things," WUNC 91.5 FM (April 5, 2006)

**"St. Louis on the Air," NPR-KWMU (Oct. 1, 2007)

**"Author Uses City as Integration Model," Charlotte Observer (April 24, 2006)

**I also discuss how I came to write The Silent Majority in this History News Network feature.

**Video: "The Silent Majority," Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia (Nov. 17, 2006)


The Moderates' Dilemma: Massive Resistance to School Desegregation in Virginia (University Press of Virginia, 1998), coedited with Andrew B. Lewis. We also co-wrote the introductory essay to this volume, and I contributed a chapter on liberal journalist Benjamin Muse and the strategies of white moderates to chart a middle path in Virginia's response to the Brown decision.



Current Projects

Current Book Project: The Suburban Crisis: The Pursuit and Defense of the American Dream.  I am working on a new book, loosely based on the themes of my "History of American Suburbia" lecture course.  I spent the summer of 2008 conducting research in Los Angeles as a fellow at the Huntington Library, and during the 2008-09 academic year I was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Humanities at Oregon State University.  This year I am working on the project while at U-M’s Institute for the Humanities. 

The Suburban Crisis will offer a new synthesis of post-1945 American suburban and metropolitan history through the examination of four overlapping categories: popular culture, politics, planning, and public policies. Also view the working Table of Contents for this book project.

In the News: "History of American Suburbia" and The Suburban Crisis:

**"The Legacy of the Little Rock Nine," NPR Talk of the Nation (Sept. 25, 2007)

**"Popular Culture's Evolving View of the Suburbs," NPR Weekend Edition (Oct. 7, 2006)

**"Beyond the Picket Fence," Boston Globe (July 23, 2006)

**"Nation's Suburbs Gain Respect in Academia," Detroit News (April 19, 2006)

**"Backstory: Suburbia 101," Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 11, 2006)

**"Suburbia Redux," KUOW in Seattle (Feb. 27, 2006)


Select Essays and Articles

**"Big Government and Family Values: Political Culture in the Metropolitan Sunbelt," in Sunbelt Rising: The Politics of Place, Space, and Region in the American South and Southwest, ed. Darren Dochuk and Michelle Nickerson (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

**"Suburban Diversity and Economic Inequality: Can the Democrats Meet the Challenge?" (Dissent, Fall 2010)

**"The History of Racial Discrimination in Housing in the United States, 1866-1975," National Historic Landmarks Theme Study, National Parks Service, United States Department of the Interior (forthcoming).

**"Searching for Respect: From 'New South' to 'World Class' at the Crossroads of the Carolinas," in Charlotte, N.C.: The Global Evolution of a New South City, ed. Heather Anne Smith and Bill Graves (University of Georgia Press, 2010).

**"Beyond the Red-Blue Divide," The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, "Special Forum: The Sixties and the 2008 Presidential Election" (June 2009), 67-68.

**"The Bulldozer Revolution: Suburbs and Southern History since World War II," Journal of Southern History (August 2009), 691-706 [coauthored with Kevin M. Kruse].

**"Inventing Family Values," in Bruce Schulman and Julian Zelizer, eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Harvard University Press, 2008).

**"The New Suburban History II: Political Culture and Metropolitan Space," Journal of Planning History (Feb. 2005), 75-88.  This article is a review essay of six recent books in suburban and metropolitan history.

**"Does the Supreme Court Matter?  Civil Rights and the Inherent Politicization of Constitutional Law" (Michigan Law Review, May 2005).

**"The Suburban Origins of 'Color-Blind' Conservatism: Middle-Class Consciousness in the Charlotte Busing Crisis," Journal of Urban History (May 2004), 549-582. This article is extracted from The Silent Majority and is available on-line through ProQuest and the JUH website and other academic search engines.  It also has been republished by the Organization of American Historians in Joyce Appleby, ed., The Best American History Essays 2006 (Palgrave, 2006) 

**"'Socioeconomic Integration' in the Suburbs: From Reactionary Populism to Class Fairness in Metropolitan Charlotte," a chapter in the volume The New Suburban History (University of Chicago Press, 2006), edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue.  This collection includes proceedings from the conference CITY LIMITS: New Perspectives in the History of American Suburbs (hosted by the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, Feb. 20-21, 2004).

**"Suburban Strategies: The Volatile Center in Postwar Political Culture," in The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History (Princeton University Press, 2003), edited by Meg Jacobs, William J. Novak, and Julian E. Zelizer. Also read the Introduction to The Democratic Experiment on-line.


For the full list of publications and conference presentations see my curriculum vitae (pdf).



Most recent versions of undergraduate and graduate courses taught at the University of Michigan


"Apathy, Alienation, and Activism: American Culture and the Depoliticization of Youth" (Lecture delivered on January 28, 2004, as a recipient of the U-M Golden Apple Award)


For more teaching resources, see the American Political Development Electronic Classroom operated by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I am the webpage editor for the Primary Resources: Suburbia section of the Electronic Classroom, which also includes a very useful Selection of Syllabi in the broadly defined area of American Political Development.


Metropolitan History Workshop

I am the organizer of the Metropolitan History Workshop, along with Profs. Matthew Countryman and Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof.  We have received funding from the University of Michigan beginning in 2005 and extending through the 2013-2014 academic year.  For more information on past and future events sponsored by this series, follow the link above. The Metropolitan History Workshop brings scholars to campus for small book workshops or panels designed for graduate students along with public lectures open to the campus community.  It is in part an outgrowth of the Michigan Colloquium on Race and Twentieth-Century American Political Development that I co-organized along with Rob Mickey and Tony Chen during 2003-04.   


Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan

This is a list of the graduate students whom I am advising or co-advising who have reached the candidacy stage.

·       Aaron Cavin ("Global Metropolis: Race and Immigration in San Jose and Silicon Valley"

·       Joshua Coene ("The Politics of Punishment in Pennsylvania and New South Wales, 1970-2000"

·       David Schlitt ("Under the Dome: Enclosed Multi-Use Stadiums and the Metropolitan Landscape, 1965-2005"


This list includes former graduate students with whom I worked who have recently completed dissertations at the University of Michigan.

·       Lauren Hirshberg (2011)--"Targeting Kwajalein: U.S. Empire and Suburbanization in the Marshall Islands, 1944-1986" [currently Visiting Assistant Professor of History, University of California at Berkeley]


I also served as Director of Graduate Studies for the University of Michigan Department of History during 2006-08.  For more information on graduate studies at the University of Michigan, see the webpage for the History Graduate Program.


Smart Growth and Regional Planning

For additional resources about suburban sprawl, smart growth, and metropolitan planning in Ann Arbor, the state of Michigan, and beyond, please visit my webpage on Smart Growth and Regional Planning.