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Lisa Goff

Associate Professor of English and American Studies, Director of Institute for Public History
Office Address: 102B Bryan Hall | Virtual Office Hours: Fridays 2:00pm-5:00pm | Zoom:


BA with Honors, College of William and Mary, English Literature
MSJ, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
Ph.D. University of Virginia, History

Fields and Specialties:

Cultural history and landscapes, migration, public history, point-of-view journalism.

Lisa Goff joined the American Studies faculty in the fall of 2012 and has a joint appointment with the Department of English. A cultural historian who studies the American landscape, she teaches classes in cultural landscapes, material culture, public history, and the history of journalism. She is also the director of UVA's Institute for Public History. Her first book, Shantytown, USA: Forgotten Landscapes of the Working Poor (Harvard UP) was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2016. The book argues that shantytowns constitute an alternative vision of American urban space between 1820 and 1940, and that conflicts over shantytowns as places and symbols of working-poor culture were an essential element in the formation of twentieth-century class difference in the United States. She is currently writing a book on the material culture of the free and enslaved at Montpelier, the home of Pres. James Madison. Dr. Goff has developed two digital history projects at UVA: “TakeBack the Archive,” dedicated to the history of sexual violence at the university; and “Finding Virginia’s Freetowns,” which seeks to digitally map and narrate the histories of dozens of Reconstruction-era Black settlements in central Virginia. Community engagement is a key aspect of her pedagogy. In 2023, she was honored with a Public Service Award from the university for her innovations in community-engaged curricula. 



Digital Projects:


  • “Under cover: clandestine removals of Confederate statues thwart opportunities for anti-racist public,” PLATFORM, September 2021

  • “In path of pipeline, descendants of freedmen fight to preserve historic Virginia landscape,” PLATFORM, June 27, 2019 

  • “‘Something pretty out of very little’: Graniteville Mill Village, 1848,” March 2019, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Forthcoming Works:

  • Montpelier: Objects of Memory, University Of Virginia Press, 2024

  • “Empire of Ice Cream: Porcelain Dessert Services 1720-1840,” chapter in forthcoming 2023 Routledge Handbook of American Material Culture

Recent Lectures and Conference Panels:

  • C19 The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists annual meeting, Coral Gables, FL, March 2022, individual paper: “Making space for a free Black public: “freetowns” in Orange County, Virginia, 1850-1920” 

  • “Public Memory and the Daughters Of Zion Cemetery,” on “Cemeteries, Slavery And History” panel, President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, 2017 symposium, “Universities, Slavery, Public Memory, and the Built Landscape,” Charlottesville, 10/19/17

  • Conference panel, C19 – The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Annual Meeting, University Park, Pa, March 2016, individual paper: “Shantytown, NYC: Forgotten Landscapes Of The Urban Working Poor”

  • Conference panel, National Women’s Studies Association annual meeting, Milwaukee, November 2015, panel “Feminism & Archives: Negotiating Precarity”: “#Takebackthearchive”

  • Vernacular Architecture Forum annual conference, Chicago, June 3-7, 2015:  “Housing and Identity” panel, “Racial Refuge: African-American Shantytowns Before and After Reconstruction”

  • Invited lecture, University of Alabama, English and AMST departments, April 2014:  “Shantytowns, Forgotten Landscapes of the American Working Classes”

  • Conference panel, American Society of Environmental Historians annual meeting, panel “Shantytowns,” San Francisco, March 2014: “ ‘Calling Me Back’: Shantytowns in 1930s Popular Culture”

Grants and Fellowships:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Grants 2023-2024, 2022-2023, College of Arts and Sciences
  • 3 Cavaliers research awards, Office of the VP for Research, UVA, 2021-2023, 2018-2019
  • UVA’s Nominee, Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellowship, 2018
  • Diversity and Inclusion Grant 2018-2019, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Mead Foundation, Mead Honored Faculty 2015-2016, Dream Idea award
  • Karsh Institute of Democracy, Working Group Grant,“Home Places: Mapping Black Virginia,” 2023-2024

Awards and Honors:

  • Public Service Award, UVA, 2023
  • Monticello Dinner Series Participant, Seven Society, UVA, 2023

Courses Taught:

Mapping Black Landscapes, AMST 3710/5710

Hands-On Public History, AMST 3221 

Moving On: Migration in/to the U.S., AMST 3790

Point of View Journalism, ENGL 2910/AMST 2422