My goals as a teacher are both practical and idealistic. First, I strive to present topics and texts that will engage students, and create a classroom environment that encourages them to participate in group discussions. By doing so, I hope to help them discover that the study of history can be a vehicle for developing vital critical thinking, writing and speaking skills. Additionally, I hope they will learn that history can free them to step outside their own worldview and grapple with and develop tolerance for perspectives foreign to their own experiences. Through this process, they can become more sophisticated and empathetic global citizens.
In 2014-2015, I was named Service Learning Professor of the Year at High Point University for my work teaching the History Detectives course and supervising the William Penn Project.
From Brooklyn to the Babe: Baseball and the American City, 1850-1929
Beginning with the Elysian Fields of Brooklyn and culminating with the cultural phenomenon of Babe Ruth, this first-year seminar introduces students to basic methods of historical thinking and writing as well as analytical concepts such as gender, class, and historical memory. [SYLLABUS]
American Expansions: Law and Justice in United States History 1800-1918
This introductory-level course uses six murder cases as a vehicle to familiarize students with some of the tensions created in American society by the expansions (territorial, population, industrial, urban, technological) of the nineteenth century. This case-study method helps to engage students and facilitate the development of their critical thinking and writing skills. [SYLLABUS]
The Long Civil Rights Movement in the United States
Beginning with the emancipation of slaves and continuing through 21st-century racial conflicts in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore, this general education course examines African-American efforts to gain civil rights and the systemic forms of resistance that confronted these efforts. Students engage with these issues through discussion-based classes and assignments that cultivate their critical thinking and writing skills. [SYLLABUS]
Hollywood in American History
From The Birth of a Nation through Jaws and Star Wars, Hollywood films deeply influenced many popular American ideas about gender, class, race and nationalism. By learning to examine films critically as historical artifacts, students in this general-education class gain exposure to cultural traditions that they have rarely examined and consider how those traditions have filtered into American society. [SYLLABUS]
In this required course for sophomore history majors, students learn the concept of historiography and consider why historical interpretations change over time. Using the historiography of slavery as its focus, this course encourages majors to critically situate primary and secondary sources within their particular historical contexts. [SYLLABUS]
American Legal History
This advanced undergraduate class introduces history majors and pre-law students to case-study methods and Socratic forms of discussion in an overview of the history of American law. The course primarily focuses on constitutional history, but also offers students exposure to other ways that law has shaped and reflected American society. It requires students to refine their critical thinking skills through independent research that they present in both written and oral forms, the latter in front of a public audience outside the classroom setting. [SYLLABUS]
Creating the American Consumer
This advanced undergraduate course examines the rise of consumer cultures as a primary source of identity over the duration of American history. Integrating the study of capitalism, media, and intellectual movements with the analytical lenses of race, class, and gender, this course pushes students to adopt more sophisticated approaches to critical thinking and presentation. Students undertake independent research on the history of a consumer object, and present their findings in both written and oral form, the latter in front of a public audience outside the classroom setting. [SYLLABUS]
The History Detectives: Advanced Methods in American History
In this advanced undergraduate course, students spend the semester collaborating on a local history research project from its beginning (asking good questions and locating possible source materials) to its end (presenting their findings in front of a public audience). Through this process, students learn about the contingency of historical research and about the important roles that collective memories of the past assume within a community. Past projects have included a study of the Civil War in Guilford County, North Carolina and the William Penn Project, a study of the African-American high school in High Point before desegregation. [SYLLABUS]
A Lens on History: Presidential Elections and American Politics
In this advanced undergraduate course taught during fall semesters in a presidential election year, students examine the history of this American political ritual through case studies of five pivotal elections. Students also undertake independent research on an election of their choice and present their findings to a public audience. The last time this course was taught, they also collaborated with a stop-motion animation class to produce short animated films on presidential elections that they shared with elementary school students. [SYLLABUS]
mark twain and the mississippi river in american culture
This course, co-taught with a professor from the English department, examines the legacy of one of the United States' most famous authors and its connection to our understanding of the river that has served as a national artery for over two hundred years. In addition to a traditional classroom component, this course includes a nine-day trip along the banks of the Mississippi to explore the river's history and its role in contemporary American life. [SYLLABUS]
In addition to teaching these courses, I also have extensive experience advising masters and undergraduate theses at both High Point and Harvard Universities. Topics of these theses have ranged from young debutantes’ lives in Front Royal, Virginia during the Civil War to the desegregation process in the schools of Forsyth County, North Carolina, from tobacco advertising in the early twentieth century to representations of masculinity in Hollywood sports movies of the 1970s.