Assistant Dean of Potter College
Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, 2000
Fields: Atlantic World, Borderlands, History of Alcohol, Colonial/Revolutionary America
Office: Fine Arts Center 200
Phone: (270) 745-2344; (270) 745-6538
I am in my fourth year as the Assistant Dean of the Potter College of Arts & Letters. It would be flip, but not entirely inaccurate, of me to say that the job of the Dean's office staff is to put out brush fires. My primary duties involve: fostering research and creative activity within the college, especially as it relates to securing outside funding through grants and fellowships; curriculum oversight; part-time faculty credentials; outreach to local K-12 schools; coordinating teacher education; academic program assessment. Less formally, my job is to make it as easy as possible for faculty in Potter College to do their work without the hassles of the university intruding upon them. I also take seriously the mission of thinking of ways to promote the interests of the college across the campus and in the community. That could involve activities as mundane as helping to shepherd college curriculum through the University, to meeting with folks in the community, to trying out new ways of showcasing the interesting, creative, and fun faculty we have in Potter College.
My original scholarly interest was the colonial American Atlantic World, focusing on British colonial North America and its connections with Latin America. The University of Georgia Press published my first monograph, Atlantic Loyalties: Americans in Spanish West Florida, 1785-1810. My current research focuses on food and drink, most specifically in the area of alcohol consumption. I am currently writing a series of entries on beer, bourbon, and food for Sage Publications' series entitled Alcohol: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives. I am also conducting research on the history of beer in the Ohio Valley, and have completed a co-authored book proposal on social studies pedagogy that incorporates the new inquiry-based C3 social studies standards.
I mainly teach the HIST 440: Colonial America, HIST 441: The American Revolution and Early Republic, HIST 463: The Atlantic World, and HIST 341: The History of Alcohol. I believe that students should be challenged to think about history in new ways, that they should think about how history is packaged, sold, and "used" in the public space, and the ways that a knowledge of history can help them better understand the world around us. If my classes don't get students to ask questions about their assumptions about the world in which they live and their social and cultural viewpoints then I'm not doing my job. I lecture, but we also spend a great deal of time discussing readings, concepts, and problems. I have used video games to teach Western Civ and brewed beer in the History of Alcohol, and hope that my classes are as interesting and instructive for my students as they are for me.