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Sally McKee


  • Ph.D. and M.A. Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 1993
  • B.A., French Literature, San Francisco State University, 1982


Sally McKee received her doctorate in 1993 at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Trained as a medievalist, she now focuses on African- and European-Americans’ engagement with intellectual and cultural movements of the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. Her teaching introduces students to the convergence of cultures in the history of politics, art, religion, and food. She is active in UC Davis’s efforts to enhance the diversity and inclusion of its students and faculty.

Research Focus

My research has ranged across centuries. Originally a medievalist with a specialty in late medieval Venetian colonization, I now concentrate on the cultural history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on jazz, modernism, and "primitivism." My book, The Exile's Song: Edmond Dédé and the Unfinished Revolutions of the Atlantic World (Yale, 2017), recovered the lost story of an African American composer from New Orleans, who spent much of his adult life in France. Currently, I am exploring the tensions between jazz traditionalists and progressivists, as expressed in the styles associated with New Orleans, on the traditionalist side, and Chicago and New York, where the avant-garde musicians flourished. 

Selected Publications

  • McKee, S. (Forthcoming) The Exile’s Song” Édmond Dédé and the Unfinished Revolutions of the Atlantic World, Yale University Press, 2016.
  • Kidner, Bucur, Mathisen, McKee, Weeks (2014) Making Europe: The Story of the West, Volume 1 to 1790, 2nd Edition, Cengage.
  • McKee, S. (2014) “The familiarity of slaves in medieval and early modern households,” in Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500-1800), Juliane Schiel and Stefan Hanss (Eds.) Zurich: Chronos
  • McKee, S. (2008) “Domestic slavery in Renaissance Italy,” Slavery and Abolition 29/3 (2008), 1-21.
  • McKee, S. (2004) “Inherited status and slavery in Renaissance Italy and Venetian Crete,” Past & Present 182.  


In addition to offering the introductory course in Western Civilization (HIS 4A), Professor McKee also teaches the upper division survey courses in medieval history. She also teaches a popular course on the world history of food (HIS 12). Recently, she stepped down as leader of the year-long graduate research seminar for the second-year students in the Department of History’s graduate program.


  • Co-winner, the 2004 Berkshire Conference for Women Historians Article Prize for “Inherited Status and Slavery in Renaissance Italy and Venetian Crete,” Past & Present 182 (February, 2004).