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Harvey J. Graff

Professor Emeritus of English and History and Ohio Eminent Scholar in Literacy Studies, Ohio State University - Main Campus

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About Harvey

Graff contributed to what is called public and applied history since graduate school. Graff's work ranges widely from writing OpEds, letters to editors, articles and books for non-academic audiences, especially in his areas of expertise (literacy, history of literacy, education); children, youth, and families; history and current urban issues; interdisciplinarity, and also social, cultural, and political issues more generally). Graff has worked with newspapers, PBS, and NPR for decades from assisting reporters with interviews and talk show panels, and advising on special program productions. He is a regular contributor to Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Academe Blog, Washington Monthly, Publishers Weekly, and Against the Current, among others. He writes the regular Busting Myths column for the Columbus Free Press. His autobiography, My Life with Literacy: The Continuing Education of a Historian. The Intersections of the Personal, the Political, the Academic, and Place is forthcoming.


The Rights to Read and Write and to Organize

In the News

Opinion: "Lessons for Becoming a Public Scholar," Harvey J. Graff, Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2023.
Opinion: "Universities are Not Giving Students the Classes or Support They Need," Harvey J. Graff, Times Higher Education, May 17, 2022.
Opinion: "America First: An Excavation of Trumpism and the Trump Agenda," Harvey J. Graff, Columbus Free Press, May 7, 2022.
Opinion: "The Banality of University Slogans," Harvey J. Graff, Washington Monthly, January 10, 2022.
Opinion: "Mike DeWine Seemed Like One of the Few Republicans Serious about Fighting COVID. He’s Not.," Harvey J. Graff, Washington Monthly, December 31, 2021.
Opinion: "Attacks on Critical Race Theory Threaten Democracy," Harvey J. Graff, Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2021.
Opinion: "Columbus’ Identity Crisis and Its Media," Harvey J. Graff, Columbus Underground, July 23, 2021.
Opinion: "DeWine’s Blundered Coronavirus Response. Vax-a-Million Didn’t Help.," Harvey J. Graff, The Columbus Dispatch, June 25, 2021.
Opinion: "Attacks on ‘Critical Race Theory’ a Dangerous Assault on Democracy and Education," Harvey J. Graff, The Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2021.


"Searching for Literacy: The Social and Intellectual Origins of Literacy Studies" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).

Critically reevaluates literacy and literacy studies across fields and disciplines. Clarifies and proposes new, confirmed ways to conceptualize, understand, teach, and practice literacy.

"Undisciplining Knowledge: Interdisciplinarity in the Twentieth Century" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

Offers a critical history of interdisciplinarity that shows that it is not new to the late twentieth century, has a long history of successes and failures, and that there are many ways to understand and practice the interdisciplinarity that our needs and opportunities demand.

"The Dallas Myth: The Making and Unmaking of an American City" (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

Gives the most complete documented history of a major U.S. city that proudly claims that its has no history and no reason to exist. The Dallas Myth reveals the very real, complicated, and contradictory history, and demonstrates the intersecting power of both history and myth in the making and unmaking of the city.

"Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America" (Harvard University Press, 1995).

Provides the most complete and inclusive children- and youth-centered history.  Based on an innovative interdisciplinary reading of more than 500 first person sources of growing up from the 18th through mid-20th centuries, the book explores the shifting, diverse patterns of growing up and the distinct paths that different young people took.