19th and 20th century American culture and politics
1960s and 70s social and political movements
Gender and sexuality
LGBTQ history and queer studies
Histories of race and ethnicity
Childhood and youth studies
Public history and digital humanities
Psychology and mental health
Social thought and social science
Theater, film, television, and performance studies
Feminist theory and queer theory
Making Public Queer History
As understandings of racial, gender, sexual, and class oppression and resistance evolve in the present, so do understandings of LGBTQ history—both the questions we ask and the answers we find. In this course we will examine how we have come to narrate LGBTQ history in the United States, investigating the ways archival, scholarly, curatorial, and creative practices shape conceptions of LGBTQ life, politics, and culture. Students will build skills in archival research and historical interpretation, and explore possibilities and challenges in building archives and presenting LGBTQ history in a variety of public contexts—museums, libraries, movies and television, and community-based history projects. For their final project, students will locate and research a selection of archival objects (periodicals, letters, pamphlets, songs, advertisements, etc.) at local or online archives to produce a digital exhibit, providing popularly accessible historical context and interpretation.
Food and the Transnational City: New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles
Cities have been crucial sites of cultural innovation, social interaction, and identity formation, often most visibly in food and foodways. Using three cities as case studies--New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles--"Food and the Transnational City" explores how transnational migration and urbanism have shaped and reshaped eating, shopping, and cooking patterns, and how cities and foodways together reshaped and reflected broader patterns of identity and belonging. How have food and foodways been mobilized in constructions of national, regional, ethnic, and racial heritage? How have cooking and eating patterns for various groups been transformed by migration and immigration? How have consumer spaces operated as sites of kinship, community, assimilation, and resistance? Students will draw on theory and historical scholarship to read a wide range of literary and cultural texts, including cookbooks, travel writing, print and television commercials, art and photography, documentaries, and short fiction.
Mental Illness in American Culture
This course examines the history of mental illness—its conception and treatment— in the United States, from the mid-1800s to the present, focusing on four major questions: (1) How have understandings of mental illness been developed and deployed by psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and social workers, and how have those understandings varied across time and place? (2) How have understandings and treatments of mental illness shaped, and been shaped by, conceptions of race, class, gender, and sexuality? (3) In what ways has treatment of mental illness and “social deviance” operated as a form of social control? (4) How do conceptions of mental illness come to circulate in popular culture and everyday life? Pairing primary and secondary sources, the course moves chronologically in order to track, and draw connections between, a wide range of movements within American psychological and social welfare history, including the creation of asylums, the emergence of homosexuality as a clinical category, the pathologization of racial and gender difference, social welfare movements, the Americanization of psychoanalysis, social psychiatry, humanistic psychology, psychopharmacology, and the politics of diagnosis.
A Transnational LGBT History, 1860 to the Present
This course draws on recent work in LGBT history to explore how understandings and experiences of same-sex sexuality and gender variance developed in a transnational context, from the 1860s to the present. Students will consider how movement of ideas and individuals within and across national borders shaped constructions of homosexual and transgender practices, identities, subcultures, and politics. The course will move chronologically, taking a global and comparative perspective on five major themes: (1) conceptualization of LGBT identities; (2) migration and citizenship; (3) empire and travel; (4) community formation; and (5) LGBT political activism.Some questions we will consider include: What role did medical experts play in the construction of sexuality, how and where did their ideas circulate, and how did those ideas impact regulation of non-reproductive sexual practices in different nations? How did ideas about race and empire inflect American and European understandings of same-sex sexual practices and identities? What historical factors led to the emergence of homosexual and transgender subcultures in various cities, and how were they shaped by local beliefs about gender and sexuality? How did gay activists communicate with activists overseas? And how can a transnational perspective on LGBT history help us to make sense of current debates about globalization, terrorism, nationalism, and human rights?
Twentieth Century U.S. History
This survey of American culture and politics will examine political, social, economic, and cultural shifts in the twentieth century, with a focus on five areas: (1) immigration and migration; (2) politics of race and ethnicity; (3) changing conceptions of gender and sexuality; (4) industrialization and consumer capitalism; and (5) the welfare state and the rise of neoliberalism. Course readings, lectures, and assignments are organized through digital archives (some open-access examples are listed on my website), to guide students in thinking about major historical trends, and at the same time encouraging students to engage directly with primary sources themselves. These sources will be complemented with secondary source readings, a combination of books and articles. Together we will seek to understand how everyday social and cultural life connect to larger political movements, the changing role of government, and changing understandings of citizenship.