I’ve had the pleasure of teaching at several institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, The College of New Jersey, and UMBC in Baltimore. Whether teaching public history to graduate students, or introductory courses in American cultural history to undergraduates, I structure my classroom around shared inquiry and engagement with important questions. When looking at the history of the 1960s, for example, students may be asked to consider the tactics of different social movements and apply their insights to contemporary issues. Or, in a class on women in the 20th century U.S., we might together question how consumer culture has affected women–has advertising reduced feminism to a slogan or has the rise of the consumer-citizen, to use Lizabeth Cohen’s phrase, created a space for women to become social activists? See below for syllabi from some recent classes.
Hon Fest and History
(Graduate class in Public History at UMBC)
This graduate level practicum course provided an opportunity for students to explore the viability of “social entrepreneurship” as a model for public historians. Using the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden as a case study, students used public history to help address recent debates in Hampden around the figure of the “Hon,” a white working-class woman who has become an icon of the neighborhood and the center of a local festival, though the image has been critiqued repeatedly for being sexist and racist. Students began by delving deeply into the history of Hampden and Baltimore and then to use the tension around the Hon as a starting point to imagine a public history response that would historicize and complicate the image. In the end, the class created a series of public panels that connected Hampden’s past to its present.
This class was co-taught by Dr. Denise Meringolo, UMBC, and me. I taught through online discussions and a class blog, which allowed for a fluid exchange of materials and ideas, while Dr. Meringolo led classroom discussions and field research.
You can access the Fall 2010 711 Course Syllabus.
Women in the 20th Century U.S.
(history and women’s and gender studies upper-level course, The College of New Jersey)
Most people would argue that the narrative of the twentieth century has been one of increasing equality for women. After all, in 1900 women could not vote nationally, while ninety women currently serve in the U.S. Congress. However, when one begins to look into the historical record, it becomes clear that the reality is more complicated. While gains have absolutely been made, women’s experience in the 20th century has always intersected profoundly with issues of race, class, sexuality, and region. Instead of a clear line from a murky, biased past to a benighted, equal present, what we find is an up-and-down course that varies by historical era and demographics.
In this class we will examine the experience of women in the 20th century through three interrelated themes:
Making do—women and work
Making culture—women making art, music, literature, photography and film
Making a difference—women and social movements
You can find the syllabus for Women in the Twentieth Century here. One of the major assignments for the course required students to choose a woman artist from this list and write a Wiki article for our course website about that woman and how her work and life connected with the class.