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Faculty and Staff

Steven Deyle
Associate Professor

Professor Steven Deyle

Phone: (713) 743-3104
Office: 539 Agnes Arnold Hall

Professor Steven Deyle specializes in nineteenth-century U.S. social and political history, with a particular interest in slavery and the Old South.  He received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including, most recently, a Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the Fall 2011 semester from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University; and the 2009 Joyce Tracy Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA.


Professor Deyle has taught a variety of courses at the undergraduate level, including both halves of the U.S. survey, Jacksonian America, Civil War and Reconstruction, Nineteenth-Century Political History, Slavery and American Society, and Social Reform Movements in Antebellum America.  He also regularly offers two graduate-level seminars: Nineteenth-Century United States Historiography, and Slavery and American Society.

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Research Interests

Professor Deyle’s first book, Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life (2005), examines both the fundamentals of the domestic slave trade and the larger impact it had on American society.  It was the 2005 winner of Southern Historical Association’s Bennett H. Wall Award for the best book on southern business or economic history published within the previous two years.  It was also nominated by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition as one of three finalists for the society’s annual Frederick Douglass Prize.

Professor Deyle is currently working on a new book project entitled “Honorable Men: Isaac Bolton, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the Murder of James McMillan.”  This project revolves around a controversial 1857 murder case in Memphis, Tennessee.  He argues that this particular case adds greatly to our understanding of the cultural and social makeup of the antebellum South.

Because of his research expertise and professional reputation, Professor Deyle has been invited to participate in prominent historical films and documentaries.  Of particular note, Professor Deyle served as both a historical consultant and a member of the creative team for the Academy Award winning film, “12 Years a Slave” (2013).  For this project, he worked with Brad Pitt’s production company, “Plan B Entertainment."  Dr. Deyle also appeared in an episode of the 6-part Emmy winning PBS series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” (2013) hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  He was featured in the 2nd episode, “The Age of Slavery (1800-1860).”  A small portion of Dr. Deyle’s appearance with Dr. Gates can be seen online

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Selected Publications



  • “An ‘abominable’ New Trade: The Closing of the African Slave Trade and the Changing Patterns of U.S. Political Power, 1808-60,” William and Mary Quarterly, 66 (October 2009), 832-49.

  • "The Irony of Liberty: The Origins of the Domestic Slave Trade," Journal of the Early Republic, 12 (Spring 1992), 37-62.

  • "'By farr the most profitable trade': Slave Trading in British Colonial North America," Slavery & Abolition, 10 (September 1989), 107-25.

  • “The Domestic Slave Trade,” in Michael Perman and Amy Murrell Taylor, eds., Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction, 3rd ed. (Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2011), 50-65.

  • “Rethinking the Slave Trade: Slave Traders and the Market Revolution in the South,” in L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers, eds., The Old South’s Modern Worlds: Slavery, Region, and Nation in the Age of Progress (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 104-19.

  • “The Domestic Slave Trade in America: The Lifeblood of the Southern Slave System,” in Walter Johnson, ed., The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas (Yale University Press, 2005), 91-116.

  • “An Ambiguous Legacy: The Closing of the African Slave Trade and America’s Own Middle Passage,” in David T. Gleeson and Simon Lewis, eds., Ambiguous Anniversary: The Bicentennial of the International Slave Trade Bans (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012), 138-52.