Mondays, 2.30 pm - 3.30 pm (room 214)
10/2015 – present
Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
10/2012 – 09/2014
M.A. in American History, Culture and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
08/2001 – 05/2005
B.A. in American Studies, University of Virginia
04/2013 – 04/2014
Tutor, Amerika-Institut Writing Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Grants and Awards
10/2015 – 09/2018
Doctoral Fellowship, German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)
Conferences and Colloquia Co-Organized
09/2016 - present
2017 Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
05/2016 - present
"From Canada to Mexico: Doctoral Lab in North American History," Freie Universität Berlin
10/2015 - 06/2016
“Flows and Undercurrents: Dimensions of (Im)mobility in North America,” GSNAS Graduate Conference 2016, Freie Universität Berlin
“NYLON Mixtapes: A Workshop on Critical Social Research.” Workshop co-conducted at the 15th Annual NYLON Graduate Student Conference, New York University, NYU Institute for Public Knowledge, March 31-April 2, 2017.
"Social Reform and Control," Fictions of Management International Conference, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, December 8-10, 2016.
"The Risk of Resistance," Uncertainty and Risk: (Un)stable Histories in America from the Late Colonial Period to the Gilded Age, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, June 30-July 2, 2016.
German Association for American Studies
The History of Felon Disenfranchisement and Race in the United States Pre-1877, Mondays 12:00-14:00
Helen's research interests include the intersection of the histories of citizenship and incarceration in the United States and the limits of consumption-as-citizenship in American society. She is currently researching the historical relationship between civil rights and automotivity within the intersecting arenas of consumer capitalism, the American legal system, and race relations. In her dissertation project entitled “Joyriding across the Color Line: Automotivity and Citizenship in the United States, 1895-1939,” she explores the unique circumstances faced by Black Americans in the twentieth-century American pursuit of freedom through driving.
"The History of Felon Disenfranchisement and Race in the United States Pre-1877" (WiSe 2017/18)
The institution of American chattel slavery and laws governing felony convictions evolved in tandem from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, influencing and influenced by notions of racial difference. Students will examine the development of citizenship rights in the United States with particular emphasis on the advent of the carceral state. Questions to be explored over the course of the semester include: What are the origins of U.S. common law? What roles did the free Black populations of the United States play in the antebellum expansion and suppression of voting rights? And, what is the semantic relationship between such famous sentiments as “Give me liberty, or give me death!” and “What, to an American slave, is your Fourth of July?”
Helen Gibson: Rezension zu: Michael, Butter; Franke, Astrid; Tonn, Horst (Hrsg.): Von Selma bis Ferguson. Rasse und Rassismus in den USA. Bielefeld 2016 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 27.04.2017, www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-26577.
"Felons and the Right to Vote in Virginia: a Historical Overview" in The Virginia News Letter 91, no. 1 (January 2015): 1-9. (Link to article)
Contributions in the News
“Virginia’s History of Taking Away Civil Rights” in The Virginian-Pilot, February 1, 2015. (Link to guest column)
“A Ford Car for the NAACP: Automotivity and Anti-Lynching Campaigns, 1934-1937." Paper prepared for the Interdisciplinary Forum of the John. F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, June 13, 2017.
“Chauffeur Blues: Cars as Spaces of Social Transgression, 1895-1939.” Paper prepared for the Heidelberg Spring Academy, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, March 20-24, 2017.
“Joyriding across the Color Line: Chauffeuring and Citizenship in the United States, 1895-1918.” Paper prepared for the Young Scholars Forum of the 39th Annual Conference of the Historians in the DGfA/GAAS, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, February 11, 2017.
“Before #DeleteUber: Black Chauffeurs’ Clubs during World War I.” Paper prepared for the Interdisciplinary Forum of the John. F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, February 7, 2017.
“'Adventures on Highways and Byways’: the Multifarious Automotive Life of Jack Johnson." Paper prepared for the Interdisciplinary Forum of the John. F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, July 5, 2016.
“Joyriding in the Early Twentieth-Century United States: Race, Mobility, and the Right to Consume.” Paper prepared for the Futures of American Studies Institute, Dartmouth College, June 20-26, 2016.
“Joyriding Along the Color Line: Race and Automotivity in the Early Twentieth-Century United States.” Paper prepared for From Canada to Mexico: Doctoral Lab in North American History, Freie Universität Berlin, June 9, 2016.
“Chauffeurs’ Clubs and the Color Line: Automotivity and Race in Early Twentieth-Century America.” Paper prepared for the Interdisciplinary Forum of the John. F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, February 9, 2016.
"Hog Stealing in Virginia's Colonial Statutes: Racially Discriminatory Seeds of Felon Disenfranchisement Sown in the Colonial Capital." Paper prepared for the 5th annual Lemon Project Spring Symposium, College of William & Mary, April 10-11, 2015.