Professor of History
|Credentials:||B.A, Widener University|
M.A., Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D., Indiana University
When I applied for a teaching position here, I had never heard of the College. I knew I wanted to teach at a small school, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this campus, its students, and its emphasis on academics. This place is more than a job for me. There is something special here that makes you feel at home. We’re able to do so much more in class because of the College’s small size.
My classes give me the opportunity to help students understand their world and the importance of history. I teach courses on general 20th century European history, German history and Russian history as well as seminars such as Propaganda, Genocide, The Holocaust, and Women and the Two World Wars. I also teach a course entitled Paris and Berlin in the 1920s: A Cultural History. This class, inspired by my own scholarly research on the evolution of a consumer culture in Germany during the 1920s, explores the unprecedented explosion of artistic creativity that emerged from the cafes, cabarets, and studios of Paris and Berlin.
Like most of the professors here, I try to bring my classroom alive for students. You can’t learn everything from just one textbook. Since I love movies, I integrate films into all of my classes. I also assign novels, memoirs, and biographies and utilize images to provide a visual context for many of the topics discussed in my courses.
But most importantly, we talk. One of my favorite aspects about the College is its diversity. There are so many international students here and in my classes. When I am teaching about various events, it is amazing to have students from places like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Germany, Argentina, Jamaica, Mongolia, and Romania sharing their and their families’ stories. These different perspectives add so much to class discussions.
I, along with faculty colleagues, have also taken students to Prague and Berlin as part of a course entitled Coming to Terms with the Past. While on this trip, we visited many important historical sites and museums that deal with the imperial, Nazi and communist pasts and met many eyewitnesses to history including a Holocaust survivor, a Czech pilot who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II, and a former East German prisoner. Randolph College Associate Professor of French Jamie Rohrer and I have also taken students to Paris and Berlin for a course entitled Capitals of Culture. Since this course concentrated on art, architecture, literature and cinema of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we visited museums such as the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Film Museum, Jewish Museum, and Bauhaus Museum in Berlin.
I have also participated in Randolph College’s American Culture Program. Dealing with issues such as the impact of Disney on America and the theme of movement in American culture, I, along with colleagues with expertise in fields such as gender studies, geography, American literature, and folklore have taken students to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Savannah, Orlando, Washington, Philadelphia and New York City.
I also frequently lead field trips to Washington, D.C. to visit museums such as the National Gallery and the Holocaust Museum. My goal is to take students on a summer trip to Germany for a course on the impact of World War II in the next few years.
Given my expertise in twentieth century German history, I joined the board of the Holocaust Education Foundation of Central Virginia soon after I arrived in Lynchburg. As a member of the board, I’ve been able to help bring several guest speakers to Lynchburg to discuss issues surrounding the impact of the Holocaust. I’ve brought two Holocaust survivors to speak at the Randolph College campus: Eva Kor, whose life story is featured in the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele, and Gerda Weissmann Klein. Klein’s story is presented in the Academy Award winning documentary One Survivor Remembers and I use her memoir All But My Life in my introductory modern European history course.
Besides my interest in history I have a passion for historic preservation. Inspired by an architectural boat tour of Chicago over twenty years ago, I became involved in historic preservation efforts while a graduate student back in Indiana. In 2006 I joined the board of the Friends of Rivermont Historical Foundation (FORHS) and in 2007 I became the board president. Dedicated to preserving and improving the beauty, safety and community spirit of Historic Rivermont, the FORHS board conducts several community outreach programs including an annual ice cream social and a holiday lights tour. In addition, in 2010 and 2011 I participated in the College’s Summer Research Program to conduct research on the individual buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District (including Randolph College). Working with four RC History majors, we gathered information and took photos of the buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District for the FORHS website www.friendsofrivermont.org
When I’m not teaching, you are most likely to find me traveling. My wife, Carolyn, and I love to visit art museums, buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, presidential sites, movie palaces, and classic diners. We also like to check out weird attractions such as the World’s Largest Bull or the World’s Largest Badger or the two competing World’s Largest Balls of Twine. We’ve even seen the World’s Largest Talking Cow, which rests beside the World’s Largest Replica Cheese in Neillsville, Wisconsin. As always, we hope to hit a few more presidential sites and unique roadside attractions this year.