Associate Professor, History
I believe that history education is education for citizenship. By gaining proficiency in the tools of historical analysis—asking good questions, evaluating evidence, appreciating complexity and contingency, delaying judgment—students emerge better prepared to be critically-engaged members of their communities both on and beyond campus. In that spirit, I emphasize critical thinking, careful writing and the understanding that history is a process of interpretation from evidence. Students in my courses spend time working with primary documents (produced by the people and communities we study) as well as with the voices of scholars. We also regularly spend time in Muhlenberg library’s special collections, working directly with rare materials like 18th-century maps, 16th- through 19th-century books and the archives of the College’s student-run newspaper.
I also believe that community is central to liberal arts learning and so my courses emphasize discussion. Finally, education for citizenship means engaging with the diversity of the American experience. I am committed to teaching content that represents the breadth of that experience, across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age and religion.
I teach a wide range of courses: colonial and Revolutionary America, U.S. women’s history, legal and Constitutional history, and histories of immigration and of protest.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My primary research interests are in early American cultural history, with a particular focus on print culture (reading, writing and publication) and civic life in the early American republic. I examine reading as a public and communal activity. I ask what role institutions built around books played in the formation of local, regional, national and class identity in the decades before the American Revolution and during the first six decades of American independence. My research asks questions such as: what does it mean to think of reading as a public or communal activity, instead of a private one? What role did library societies play in the early modern city? How did late 18th- and early 19th-century Americans use reading to define their social identities?
I have published on early American libraries and am currently part of an international research group studying 18th-century libraries in the U.K., British North America, and the early United States.