Emily Prifogle is a social and legal historian of rural communities. In May 2019, Prifogle will defend her dissertation, “Cows, Cars, and Criminals: The Legal Landscape of the Rural Midwest, 1920-1975,” which argues that the legal remaking of rural communities was a central feature of twentieth-century America through a series of five case studies. Beginning in the fall of 2019, Prifogle will be a Faculty Fellow at the University of Michigan Law School where she will teach a seminar on law in rural communities. She is a former associate blogger for the Legal History Blog and current advisory board member and co-founder of WomenAlsoKnowHistory.com. Before completing her Ph.D. at Princeton, she received a M.Sc. in comparative social policy from Oxford and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She also clerked for Judge David Hamilton on the Seventh Circuit. Her interdisciplinary background continues to inform her scholarship and interest in public history.
Cows, Cars, and Criminals: Rural Communities, Law, and Nation in the Twentieth Century
Emily Prifogle’s dissertation, “Cows, Cars, and Criminals: Rural Communities, Law, and Nation in the Twentieth Century,” applies the methods of urban history to investigate rural communities as unique social and legal spaces. Using a series of case studies from several Midwestern states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, the dissertation argues that while national legal and political culture shifted away from rural communities in the twentieth century, rural Americans continued to express rural-based values and social norms through their use, manipulation, resistance, and understanding of the law, making the process of legally constituting the rural a central feature of twentieth-century America.