As a historian and educator, I emphasize that though the past is irretrievable, the past is still incredibly relevant. Being able to draw connections or contrasts to past social, cultural, religious, economic, and political movements helps students understand both the ephemeral and lasting effects that even the most mundane actions have on history. I strive to teach students not only about a time period and society much different from their own (or perhaps more similar than they realized), but also about the practicality of history’s transferable skills.
In my classes, I aim to make my students, whether majors or non-majors, critical thinkers capable of effectively reading a variety of sources on a historical process, sagely analyzing those sources, and cogently articulating their responses both in written assignments and orally. To foster these practical skills my students engage with a variety of primary and secondary sources. In addition to printed primary sources, my students also examine digital primary sources, such at the Old Bailey Court records, documents from Fordham University’s Internet Medieval and Modern Sourcebooks, The John Carter Brown Library’s extensive digital map collection, and the Virginia Foundation’s Atlantic Slavery Collection. These digital collections allow students to immerse themselves in a particular theme or historical problem, exploring varied types of evidence such as manuscripts, legal cases, portraits, pamphlets, songs, and even pieces of material culture. Exposing students to various types of primary sources helps them understand how history is not simply a narrative written in documents, but is an interpretive field with many different types of evidence.
Digital sources are also excellent examples of how our current world is experiencing a digital revolution similar to the early modern world’s print revolution. Information can now be accessed and created more easily and faster than ever before. With the myriad advantages that come from open-access, there are also a number of disadvantages, namely digital illiteracy. Although digital tools can be helpful to students when applied correctly, students often do not know how to wield them. Therefore, in addition to using digital sources , I organize activities and assignments that foster digital literacy in every class that I teach.
Students in my “Global Early Modern Europe” course built their digital literacy through the creation of a collaborative map and database of the early modern world in Fall 2015. Using Google Maps and Google Docs, students charted the transmission and exchange of goods, people, ideologies, and cultures across the globe from 1400 to 1800. Every student was responsible for at least four entries, each at around 200 words, throughout the semester. Much like identification terms on examinations, these entries explained the historical significance of the subject, the date(s), and connections to the historical narrative and other entries in the map. Students were encouraged to check each other’s work and make revisions as necessary. Entries were added to the map as well as to an Excel file in Google Docs. Students used this Excel file as a study guide of sorts, helping them review important key terms and ideas. This exercise not only fostered digital literacy of mapping software, Microsoft Excel, and the Google Drive, it also taught them about collaborative projects, organization, and verification of online text. Furthermore, for visual learners, this map served as a visual representation of how interconnected Europe was with the rest of the world in the early modern era. To learn more about this assignment, class, and see the map in real time, visit the Global Early Modern Europe page. In Spring 2016, students in my “Witches, Workers, & Wives” course are building a digital timeline and class archive of witchcraft trials across early modern Europe and America. To learn more about this project, visit the “Witches, Workers, & Wives” page. As a digital humanist, I am committed to cultivating new digital techniques and resources in all of my classes.
As the mapping and timeline exercises demonstrate, I am a strong proponent for active learning in the classroom. In particular, I use Reacting to the Past role-play simulations in an upper division history course on the French Revolution and a first-year honor’s experiential learning course on comparative Atlantic Revolutions (American, French, and Haitian). These role-play games immerse students in the social, ideological, and political background of the Age of Revolutions. In each simulation, students adopt the identity of a particular revolutionary character. While in character, students conduct research, deliver oral arguments, write articles, and investigate the motivations of revolutionary actors. Assignments focus on the development of critical and conceptual thinking, analysis, writing, and oral presentation skills. Students are assigned different writing exercises depending upon their character in each simulation. Some may write newspaper editorials and others will write treatises justifying their vote or debate position. No matter their character, every student writes two 3-4 page papers. Each student will also be assigned at least one formal oral assignment (such as giving a speech) during one simulation. This class and assessment format engages students in a unique way. Students truly become active learners, each personally invested in research, debate, and discussion – key skills to their success not only as students but as well-informed citizens in the 21st century. Click Revolution!: Reacting to Atlantic Revolutions, 1763-1815 to learn more.
Whether in a survey course, upper division undergraduate course, or master’s level course, my overall goals are to provide students both with a solid education in a particular historical time period as well as with transferable skills to be well-rounded citizens of a global world. Although students need strong critical thinking, analytic, and oral skills to succeed in a history course, these skills can also be transferred to a wide variety of disciplines and to students’ eventual professional lives.
During my career at Utah State University as an Assistant Professor of History and a Distinguished Assistant Professor of Honors Education and during my graduate work at The University of Texas at Austin as a Lecturer, Graduate Mentor, Teaching Assistant, and Supplemental Instructor, I taught an ethnically, socio-economically, and religiously diverse student population in a variety of settings. I have experience teaching in one-on-one tutorials, undergraduate seminars, large (120+ people) lectures, and graduate courses. Through my role as a Supplemental Instruction Supervisor, I was formally trained in emerging and classical pedagogy in order to teach other Graduate Instructors about new teaching methods and best practices.
I offer a range of European, Atlantic, and comparative world history courses. In addition to teaching survey courses such as Foundations of Western Civilization: Modern and Global Early Modern Europe, I teach regularly teach Witches, Workers, & Wives, and Revolution!: Reacting to Atlantic Revolutions. I can teach upper-division courses on a variety of topics with a special focus on social history, especially childhood, gender, family history, education, and social reform. As my work touches on many fields of history, I am happy to teach other courses in economic, intellectual, political, cultural, religious, and legal history. Furthermore, I am able to supervise/mentor undergraduate and graduate students. Finally, I am a highly experienced organizer, leader, and teacher in study abroad programs due to my positions for the past seven years as Assistant Director in Southern Methodist University’s summer program in Paris, France.
- Click Courses for my current courses and a list of developed courses.
- Click Supplemental Instructor for my experience as a Supplemental Instructor & Supervisor
- Click Intellectual Entrepreneurship for my experience as a Graduate Mentor & Instructor.
- Click Resources for a number of handouts and teaching resources I created.