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Kelly King-O’Brien

Senior Lecturer, Associate Director, Writing in the Majors

Kelly King-O’Brien

Mcgraw Hall, Room M101


Kelly King-O’Brien began teaching as a Lecturer at the Knight Institute in August 2012. Her courses include Writing 1370/1380, Expository Writing 2880/2890, and the Writing in the Majors course (WRIT 7101). She comes to Cornell after four years as an Assistant Director of the Writing Program at the University of Chicago, where she worked within the rubric of a well-respected and interdisciplinary approach to writing called the Little Red Schoolhouse. In this position, she helped to administer the first-year writing seminars, trained graduate student instructors how to teach writing to first-year students, and trained and supervised the Writing Tutors. King-O’Brien also taught first-year writing seminars and served as a Writing Tutor herself. In addition to teaching writing, King-O’Brien taught American history courses at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. After receiving her B.A. in Neuroscience from Oberlin College, King-O’Brien moved to Boston to pursue laboratory work. After a few years, she discovered her great love of history and pursued a M.A. in History from the Harvard Extension School, followed by graduate work at the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in June 2012. Her dissertation, “The Trials of Interracial Advocacy: White-collar Work, Race, and Inclusion in Post-World War II Chicago,” dissects a critical contest over opening up white-collar work to Jews and African Americans in the mid-twentieth century. Her scholarly work and her teaching explore changing perceptions about Jews and African Americans, shifting attitudes toward race and discrimination and their implications, and connections between ideologies of race and ethnicity, battles for civil rights, and the meaning of equality in postwar America.


  • John S. Knight Institute


Fall 2019

Spring 2020