My Courses

Please drop me an email if you have any questions about these courses! I'm always glad to answer your questions.
Spring 2015 - Check back for syllabi!

History 152 U.S. History II (1865 to Present)

History 492 Young America (Spring 2015) Americans in 1787 could agree on one thing: this was a nation founded on the principles of liberty and equality. But what did that look like? How should it be achieved? And whose vision of liberty, equality, and opportunity should dominate?

The founding of the American republic occurred during a period of dramatic social and economic change. And as a new century dawned, different groups struggled over their vision of the nation and its future. This class will explore the ways Americans between 1787 and 1848 experienced, understood, fueled, and resisted the growth and transformation of their new nation. How did Americans see themselves, their society, their government, the future of their nation? Whose vision would dominate and on what terms? 

In August 2013, Miley Cyrus shocked fans and critics with her performance of “We Can’t Stop” at the MTV VMAs.  The next morning, news media was abuzz with what amounted to a national debate about Cyrus’ performance, which seemed to push new boundaries for both the former child star and the music industry. But did it? What exactly was new here? To many observers, this seemed yet another chapter in a longstanding debate over the appropriate expression of female sexuality in popular culture. When did popular culture become so consumed with sexuality? Well, if you take the long view, when wasn’t it?

This course will examine the intersection of debates about sex and sexuality with the emergence and transformation of American popular culture, looking at patterns and changes from the 1780s through today. We’ll explore how different cultural forms—from the novel to blues music—introduced new ideas about sexuality and gender, challenged existing social mores, and gave voice to different groups within American society and culture.  Examining these moments can give us a unique window into the past, while providing us with tools for examining our own culture.  In this class we will do both – examine past struggles over sexuality and popular culture and learn to think more critically about struggles over sexuality today.

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Other Courses That I Teach
History 151 United States History I (to 1865)
History 450 Colonial America (Fall 2013)

History 392/Religious Studies 492 Religion in American History (Spring 2014)

From the travels (travails?) of the Mayflower to the first broadcasts of Billy Graham, religion has been a major vehicle of change throughout American history. People developed new forms of identity and created new communities; claimed authority and challenged authority; both accelerated and resisted change. This course will study religion as a force in American history from the Protestant Reformation in Europe through to the present.  We will examine a wide range of beliefs, practices, events, and historical figures—from Anne Hutchinson to Malcolm X, Methodist circuit riders to Orthodox Jewish immigrants.

1886 poster for a 
theatrical production

(Spring 2014)

“READER, be assured this narrative is no fiction. I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible; but they are, nevertheless, strictly true. I have not exaggerated the wrongs inflicted by Slavery; on the contrary, my descriptions fall far short of the facts.” 

So begins Harriet Jacobs’ harrowing account of her struggles to free herself and her children from slavery. Slave narratives like this are a key part of the history of slavery in America—and the impact of slavery on American culture. This course will explore two questions: How did slavery develop as an institution? How has slavery shaped American society and culture? We will chart the changing nature of slavery itself, tackle the challenge of uncovering the perspectives of the enslaved, explore debates about slavery, and follow popular portrayals of slavery into the 21st century. 

Hist/Eng/Wmst 492 Women's American to 1865 - Click for Syllabus!

History 772 Graduate Seminar in American History (Fall 2014)

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