Jane Rhodes

Department Head, Professor of African American Studies


Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1992
M.A., Syracuse University, 1984
B.S., Syracuse University, 1977

Research Interests

Rhodes is trained as a mass media historian with specialization in African American history and culture. She focuses on the study of race, gender and mass media; the history of the black press; media and social movements; and African American women’s history. She is particularly interested in how aggrieved communities have used print culture, film, electronic media, music, and other expressive cultures as modes of resistance and empowerment. Her work also explores the gender politics of African American communities and the experiences of transnational black subjects .

Rhodes’ first book Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century (Indiana University Press, 1998), was named the best book in mass communication history by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Her second book, Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon (The New Press) was published in Fall 2007. Rhodes was featured in the award-winning documentary The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (California Newsreel, 1999). Most recently she was the Joy Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge (U.K.)., both in 2012-13.

A current research project continues Rhodes’ long-standing interest in how African Americans use media to carve out spaces for political, intellectual and cultural exchange. Rebel Media: Adventures in the History of the Black Public Sphere presents critical essays on black American media from the 1920s to the present. Rhodes is also researching a biography of a black American expatriate and psychoanalyst tentatively titled Transatlantic Blackness in the Era of Jim Crow: The Life of Marie Battle Singer.

For an excerpt of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, please click on the image below:


On Independence Day1856, Frederick Douglass took time out from his agonizing over the violence in “Bleeding Kansas” to praise Mary Ann Shadd Cary as an exemplar. “We do not know her equal among the colored ladies of the United States, Douglass proclaimed in the pages of his newspaper. Shadd Cary, founder and publisher of the Provincial Freeman, had toiled away in relative obscurity in the black expatriate communities of Canada. Douglass wanted his readers to know something of her “unceasing industry…unconquerable zeal and commendable ability.” Paradoxically, Douglass also saw fit to note in his tribute that “The tone of her paper has been at times harsh and complaining.”

This seeming contradiction—that Shadd Cary would be viewed as simultaneously as an object of respect and leadership, and as an object of derision—is central to the story of this African American woman…

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Contact Information

Office: 1231 UH
Phone: (312)-996-2981
Fax: (312)-996-5799
Email: rhodesj@uic.edu
Curriculum Vitae
Photo by Tony Rinaldo