Associate Professor of History
His teaching and research interests include modern European history with an emphasis on cultural history from the 18th through the 20th centuries; the French Revolution; Central Europe; fascism and Nazism; and early modern Europe.
Particular research interests involve the history of intellectuals and literary life.
In a little more than a century, Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland have been transformed from provinces of multiethnic empires into a series of small successor states whose experience went from independence to Nazi occupation and communist dictatorship and back again. Today, they are members of NATO and the European Union. These three regions, with their dynamic and at times unstable population mixture of Germans, Slavs, Magyars, and Jews, embodied the tension between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, tolerance and intolerance, the persistence of tradition and the exuberance of modernity-issues also relevant to the study of other topics in the social sciences and humanities. Our course will treat the histories of the countries and cultures and the literature, music, and art that gave voice to those tensions. In addition, we will consider the appropriation of history through memory and memorialization in the present. Key words: history, European studies, German studies, Slavic studies, Jewish studies
The Shoah (Hebrew: catastrophe, devastation) or "Holocaust"-the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe-has entered popular consciousness and the curriculum. Museums and monuments are commonplace. And yet, knowledge is neither widespread nor deep. In 2020, a majority of Americans aged 18-39 do not know how many Jews were killed, and nearly half cannot name a concentration camp. Although many people find religious, philosophical, or political meaning in the genocide, it in fact contains no intrinsic, much less, consoling message. Because this course is anchored in the discipline of history, it proceeds from the belief that the losses cannot be understood unless we examine the world that was lost. It addresses the roles of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders. It locates the Shoah in the spectrum of interethnic relations without portraying it as inevitable. It explains the uniqueness of the Jewish tragedy, while examining similar cases and universal implications. Key words: history, European studies, German studies, Jewish studies
Time and Narrative: Pandemics: Main Question: How do people, communities, and cultures understand, make sense of, and react to pandemics, both historically and now, given COVID-19? Course Description: The shock of suffering and death from the COVID-19 pandemic prompts many to speak of it as unprecedented. In fact, there have been many instances of global pandemics, from the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages to the Great Influenza of 1918 to the AIDS pandemic beginning in the 1980s. This class will examine historical, social, cultural, and scientific perspectives on how humans have understood and reacted to infectious disease across cultures and centuries and will provide insight as we seek to reconstruct our lives and societies. We will also investigate how our own particular identity and positionality lead to different consequences for each of us.This transdisciplinary course will involve research, hands-on investigation, and creative expression. We will focus on pandemics from multiple perspectives - biology, epidemiology, and public health policy, as well as history, politics, ethnography, oral history, literature, and other expressive arts. Students will undertake individualized study-analyze scientific data, conduct research in archives and via social media, interview pandemic survivors, and other projects -- and reflect on their own experiences and collectively share their findings through public forums, media, scholarship, creative writing, and journalism. Approaches: #epidemiology, #publicHealth, #history, #journalism, #ethnography
What can the hopes and fears of a given society tell us about it and ourselves? Did the gravest "sins" in old Europe and the North American colonies involve food, money, or sex? Among the hallmarks of modernity were the rise of new social formations (classes) and the commercialization of daily activities and relations. Did traditional institutions and belief systems hamper or facilitate the changes? What roles did religious and national contexts play? Did the increase in the sheer number of "things" change the way people thought? What changes did the family and private life undergo? At the heart of the course is the concept of culture as a process through which individuals and groups struggle to shape and make sense of their social institutions and daily lives. A core course in history, the social sciences, and cultural studies.
Many people have learned and are accustomed to thinking of history as an authoritative account of the past, based on indisputable facts. Scholars of history, by contrast, understand history as a matter of contested and evolving interpretation: debate. And they argue not just over the interpretation of facts, but even over what constitutes a relevant fact. This course will use some representative debates to show how dynamic the historical field is. Topics may include: Did women have a Renaissance? How did people in early modern France understand identity? Why did eighteenth-century French artisans find the torture and slaughter of cats to be hilarious rather than cruel? Were Nazi killers who committed genocide motivated by hatred or peer pressure? Are European Jews descended from medieval Turks rather than biblical Hebrews? Students will come to understand how historians reason and work. In so doing, they themselves will learn to think historically.
It is fashionable today to speak of "sustainability," but how do we understand the term in its broadest sense? Historic preservation plays a key role in researching our history, building civic identity, and creating sustainable communities. Once associated primarily with saving the elegant buildings of the elite, historic preservation today involves vernacular as well as distinguished architecture, landscapes as well as the built environment, and the stories of all social groups. Preservation and adaptive reuse of old buildings play a key role in both economic and environmental policy. Students will study general preservation theory and practice and in particular conduct research on Amherst's history and historic resources. Students will visit local historic sites, document collections, and museums