Katherine Sorrels

Katherine E Sorrels

Associate Professor

Associate Professor of History
Affiliate Faculty, Judaic Studies

Professional Summary

Personal Website

Katherine Sorrels is an Associate Professor of History, Affiliate Faculty in Judaic Studies, and Chair of the Taft Health Humanities Research Group at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests are in modern European and North American history of medicine, disability, and the Jewish experience. She is also involved in a number of digital and public humanities projects. She teaches on the history of health and medicine, eugenics and Nazi medical abuses, scientific racism, and disability history, as well as several courses on the Holocaust, migration, and the refugee experience. 

Her current book project is On the Spectrum: Refugees from Nazi Austria and the Politics of Disability and Belonging in the Britain and North America. Her focus is on the Camphill movement, an international network of intentional communities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that was founded in Scotland during WWII by Austrian Jewish refugees. Through Camphill, she reconstructs the larger story of how Austrian refugees transformed British and North American approaches to disability after the Holocaust. Her research is based on archival work and oral histories in Austria, Britain, the United States, and Canada. She was interviewed on this project for two Botstiber Foundation podcasts, which can be found here: Episode 1Episode 2.

On the Spectrum extends work on antisemitism, scientific racism, and internationalism in 20th century Central and Eastern European Jewish history that she explored in her first book, Cosmopolitan Outsiders: Imperial Inclusion, National Exclusion, and the Pan-European Idea, 1900-1930 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). She has also published on Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jewry, Medical and Digital Humanities, and disability history and theory. This includes articles and two co-edited volumes: Disability in German-Speaking Europe: History, Memory, Culture (Camden House, 2022) and Ohio under COVID: Lessons from America's Heartland in Crisis (University of Michigan Press, 2023). Ohio under COVID is also avialable in an open-access, digital edition here: https://www.press.umich.edu//12396322

When Sorrels is not working, she is usually gardening, listening to gardening podcasts, reading gardening books, and watching gardening shows. Her enthusiasm sometimes outpaces her talent (there have been casualties) but she continues to dig in the dirt.



Ph.D.: University of Pittsburgh 2009 (History; Concentrations: History of Ideas; Modern Europe; Jewish History)

M.A.: Central European University Budapest, 2000 (History)

B.A.: SUNY Binghamton 1998 (History)

Research Support

01-2025 -12-2025 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship

08-2021 -05-2022 Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati, Academic Year Writing Fellowship

08-2021 TOME Award (Toward an Open Access Monograph Ecosystem)

05-2021 -05-2024 A&S Dean's Office Dean's Innovation Award

05-2020 -07-2020 National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend

01-2020 -05-2020 Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Ivan and Nina Ross Family Fellowship

09-2019 -12-2019 German Academic Exchange Service Conference Grant

01-2019 -05-2019 Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati, Faculty Release Fellowship

09-2018 -08-2019 Dietrich W. Botstiber Foundation, Research Grant

05-2017 -04-2018 University Research Council, University of Cincinnati URC Interdisciplinary Award

09-2013 -05-2014 Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati, Academic Year Writing Fellowship

06-2012 -08-2012 Taft Research Center, Summer Research Fellowship

Honors and Awards

2019 Award for Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching, University of Cincinnati All-University Faculty Awards

2020 Public Humanities Award, Charles Phelps Taft Research Center

2021 Gene Lewis Faculty Teaching Prize, Department of History, University of Cincinnati