Director – Center for Public History
Memory, Material Culture, Public History, U.S. Cultural History
I am a public historian who specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States cultural history. My research typically cuts across three fields: material culture studies, memory studies, and Public History. Simply put, I study how Americans have used objects over time—in museums, historical preservation, monument building, and in other contexts—to exert control over how all of us understand the past.
Moreover, like other public historians working within universities, I study how historical meaning is made in public contexts by participating in history projects alongside community stakeholders. In all cases, my research seeks to answer questions such as: Why do we choose to remember some pasts and not others? Who decides what is remembered? How do those decisions influence our beliefs about nation and democracy? How are they reinforced over time? How are they challenged?
- Born in the USA: Birth and Commemoration in American Public Memory* (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), an edited volume in the Public History in Historical Perspective series.
- “Reforming the Carceral Past: Eastern State Penitentiary and the Challenge of Twenty-First-Century Prison Museums,” *Radical History Review* 113 (Spring 2012): 171-86.
- Here, George Washington was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument* (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
- Managing History: Introduction to Public History (HIST 8152)
- Studies in Material Culture (HIST 8151)
- Museums and American Culture (AmSt 2022)