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Since students are not “brains-on-a-stick,” my teaching does not rely solely on content-centric, intellectualist methods. My courses sometimes take the form of debates in which students inhabit the world of a historical subject. I ask students to pray the liturgy of medieval monks or haul water for several hours to recreate the habits of eighteenth-century Americans.

To use the analogy of travel, it is important to undertake scholarly inquiry as a pilgrim, not a tourist. What we learn about others’ stories should connect with our own stories. We should practice hospitality through charitable reading. As best we can, we should seek to dwell in foreign worlds, not just gaze at them from afar. It is my job as professor to act as a guide who orients my students to new surroundings.

Courses offered

The United States before 1877

The United States after 1877

World Civilizations I

World Civilizations II

The United States in the 1960s

The Study of History: Historical Methods and Historiography

Non-Western Cultures

War in the American Memory

American Religious History


Essays on teaching

“Notes to First-Year Students on Mystery and the Liberal Arts”

“The Eating Exercise” and “Food Rules and Habituated Practice”

“The Silence Exercise”

“Serendipity in the Stacks: A Case Against Bookless Libraries”

“A Humble Proposal”

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