Sussex Center for American Studies

photo of Richard Follett

Prof Richard Follett

Post:Professor of American History (American Studies, History, Documenting Louisiana Sugar 1845-1917)
Location:ARTS A A149

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 877365
International:+44 1273 877365

Research expertise:
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Richard Follett is a historian of slavery and emancipation. Brought up in North Wales and Bristol, England, Follett attended the University of Wales, Swansea and the University of Illinois for his BA degree. He obtained an MA from the University of London in 1991 before receiving a Fulbright scholarship to support his doctoral work on American slavery at Louisiana State University. Before moving to Sussex in 1999, he taught at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Professor of American History at Sussex, Follett has additionally held the following posts: Deputy Head of the School of History, Art History, and Philosophy (HAHP), University of Sussex; Director of Teaching and Learning, School of HAHP; Head of Department (American Studies).


Professor of American History

Community and Business

White Fright: Slave Revolts in American Memory

Richard Follett will deliver a series of public lectures on his current book project, White Fright: Slave Revolts in American Memory (Johns Hopkins University Press) at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (November 17); University of Mississippi (November 19), Memphis Cotton Museum (November 20). The Memphis Commercial Appeal -- that city's primary daily newspaper -- advertised the talk.

As a 2013-2014 Gilder Lehrman Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City, Richard Follett was interviewed about the book project White Fright and the research he conducted as Gilder Lehrman Fellow on the 1741 New York Slave Insurrection Conspiracy.


 Sky News: Should Slavery Be Made Essential Reading?

12 Years a Slave opened in the UK on Friday 10th January with media coverage in print, radio and screen. Both director Steve McQueen and lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor were quoted as saying that Solomon Northup's autobiography (first published in New York in 1853) should be on the National Curriculum for British school-children.

Sky News covered the story with a special report, aired on Saturday 11th January, which is available here: Slavery 'Should Be Made Essential Reading', which they followed up by interviewing Richard Follett of Sussex University and then Miranda Kaufmann, historian and freelance journalist.


Narratives of Slavery
Follett has also produced short films on Twelve Years a Slave and other Narratives of Slavery for, a high-traffic site for U.S. high-school teachers, 5,000 of whom have downloaded Follett's videos on how to teach American slavery.
Solomon Northup was an exceptional man, not just in his life history, but also in his literacy. A recent review by Follett on slavery and the power of literacy is available in Times Higher Education.

Cultural Heritage of Slavery

Follett delivers public lectures on slavery and emancipation, the next one is scheduled for Thursday 20 November, 2014 at the Memphis Cotton Museum.
His work has been published in a range of popular periodicals, ranging from Louisiana Cultural Vistas to BBC History Magazine.
His research has also contributed to the cultural heritage of slavery and is used to promote public education and tourism in Louisiana, His book, the award-winning Sugar Masters bridges the divide between scholarship and public knowledge and is sold widely at plantation homes and tourist sites across the state.
On various plantation tours, it is employed by guides and serves as "a perfect complement to the tour and interpretive programming." It has even be used to provide historical context for visitors planning motorhome tours of the state.

Attica Locke, award-winning novelist, and author of The Cutting Season: A Novel wrote:
"I could not have written my novel, The Cutting Season, without books like Richard Follett's astoundingly well-researched, Sugar Masters.  For me, writing believable fiction that can emotionally reach readers and also teach them about different eras in our shared history requires reading texts like these."