David Gilbert (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011) is a social and cultural historian of the United States, with emphasis on African-American history, commercial culture, and popular music. His first book manuscript, The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace(University of North Carolina Press, 2015) won the American Library Association’s Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title (2015), and his dissertation on the same topic was a finalist for the Society for American Music’s Housewright Dissertation Award (2012). The book explores African-American musicians and stage entertainers in New York City in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century and shows how black entertainers made Broadway Avenue and Tin Pan Alley song publishers in New York synonymous with American popular culture. The book focuses on under-studied figures such as James Reese Europe, Will Marion Cook, Bert Williams, and George Walker to illuminate an exciting cultural era prior to the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro era of the Jazz Age.
Gilbert teaches the post-Civil War survey course and a variety of upper-level classes in American intellectual, social, and cultural history and focuses on topics such as civil rights, consumer culture, the history of capitalism, and the histories of jazz, blues, R&B, and hip-hop as often as he can. He has published one article, “James Reese Europe and the Clef Club: Composing Black Music and Selling Authenticity in Black Manhattan, 1910-1915,” in the Journal of Popular Music Studies (December, 2012) and is currently in search of stories about the interracial and transnational roots of Appalachian music in the local regions and counties near Mars Hill.