SpecialtyU.S. South, African American History, the built environment, prison studies.
PhD in History, Columbia University, 2007
BA in Political Science, Yale University, 1991
My research is related to and informed by my teaching. My first book, Designing Dixie: Tourism, Memory and Urban Space in the New South (University of Virginia Press, 2014), explores how tourism to the American South after the Civil War helped to foster a public memory of the war that would help smooth sectional reconciliation, usher industrial capitalism, and legitimate Jim Crow. I have published scholarly work on the civil rights movement and public memory, community policing in New York City, and prison litigation in Virginia for journals such as the Journal of Southern History, The Journal of Urban History, and the Journal of Civil and Human Rights. Influenced by my work teaching in the Inside-Out program, I am currently completing a book manuscript tentatively titled: “A Wall is Just a Wall”: The Permeability of the Prison in 20th Century America, which traces the decline of practices that used to connect incarcerated people more regularly to the free world. My research has been supported by the American Philosophical Society, The Vital Projects Fund, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Research and teaching interests:
I am a social and cultural historian of the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries, with specialties in the American South, African American history, the history of public memory, the built environment, and mass incarceration. A methodological commitment that runs throughout my work is the history of the built environment, which means looking at physical space—from factories to theme parks—as a way of understanding historical processes. The first course I created at Lewis & Clark when I arrived as a teaching fellow in 2004—called “Constructing the American Landscape”—came out of those interests, and I have been offering it ever since. Related to this theme is my course called “From Stumptown to Portlandia: The History of Portland,” for which students design and deliver historical walking tours of Portland neighborhoods.
I also teach courses on African American history, Race and Ethnicity in the United States, and US Women’s History. My proudest accomplishment is bringing the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program to Lewis & Clark, which is a program that began at Temple University and whose mission is to bring undergraduates inside prisons to learn alongside people who are incarcerated. My course, “Crime and Punishment in US History” is taught at Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) in North Portland to an integrated group of Lewis & Clark and incarcerated students. In 2019, I won a Public Humanities Seed Grant from the Whiting Foundation to produce a piece of devised theater at CRCI as the culmination of this class. In 2021, the Oregon Community Foundation awarded me $75,000 to produce a second devised theater piece, generated by incarcerated and free students, at an acclaimed local theater with professional actors. I will be collaborating on this project with Rebecca Lingafelter in the Theater Department and will mount the theater piece in summer 2023. An article about our work at CRCI can be found here.