I am currently writing a history of American childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, which explores the effects of the era's social and political movements in children's culture.
My dissertation tells the history of interwar summer camps in New York State, and provides insight into the lives of the New York City children who attended them. Widely disparate groups shared the belief that rural spaces offered a healthy antidote to city living, and proposed that camps were especially suited to teach children the arts of social acculturation and good citizenship. The children of recent immigrants and the native-born; union activists and socialists; Protestants, Jews and Catholics; and children of all races and classes–-to varying degrees, all of these boys and girls shared this rite of passage. They did not, however, usually share camps; as the history of summer camps suggests, communal self-segregation could be taken to new heights in rural spaces. In camping-conscious New York City, perhaps one out of seven children attended camp at some point. Camping in New York State, meanwhile, serves as an ideal example of a national industry in expansion; by the late...
American Material Culture - This introduction to American material culture considers the history of things. Topics may include print and visual media; museums, collecting practices, artifacts, and mementos; architecture, decorative arts, and design; clothing; food; consumerism, crafting, and DIY cultures. We will examine the relationship between production and consumption; consider how objects change their meanings as they move through time and space; and explore how the stuff of life has reflected (and sometimes challenged) distinctions of gender, race, class, and age. This course will allow students to develop skills in analyzing a range of historical artifacts, and to work more closely with some sources of their choosing.
This course examines American history from the end of the Second World War to the present day, a period of significant political, social and cultural ferment. Themes of the course include the Cold War; consumerism; immigration; the role of the federal bureaucracy and of the Presidency; social movements including civil rights, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, and environmentalism; the rise of the New Right; and the impact of 9/11.