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Department of History Staff

Alexander Olson
Alexander Olson
- Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Professor
  • alexander.olson@wku.edu
  • HCIC 1037
  • (270) 745-4201
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2013
  • Core Faculty in the Mahurin Honors College
  • Fields U.S. History, American Studies, North American West, Indigenous Studies, Biopolitics

American Studies: A User's Guide (University of California Press, 2017). Co-authored with Philip J. Deloria.

Blood and Soil Bohemianism: Creativity and Eugenics, 1860-1940 (book manuscript in progress)


"Writing on Rubble: Dispatches from San Francisco, 1906," KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 3, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 93-121

“Ad Hoc American Studies: Michigan and the Hidden History of a Movement,” American Studies 55, no. 1 (2016): 107-131. Co-authored with Frank Kelderman.

“Muybridge in the Parlor,” Journal of American Studies 50, no. 1 (February 2016): 61-80.

“Citizen Stories: A New Path to Culture Change,” Public: A Journal of Imagining America 3, no. 1 (Spring 2015). Co-authored with Elizabeth Gish and Terry Shoemaker.

“‘You have rescued me from academicism’: Selections from the Correspondence of Henry Nash Smith and Mary Hunter Austin,” Southwest Review 96, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 50-65.

“Heritage Schemes: The Curtis Brothers and the Indian Moment of Northwest Boosterism,” Western Historical Quarterly 40, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 159-178. Winner of the Bert Fireman Award from the Western History Association.

 “Our Leschi: The Making of a Martyr,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 95, no. 1 (Winter 2003/04): 26-36.

Courses Taught

History 102: World History since 1500
History 240: United States to 1865
History 241: United States since 1865
History 340: History of Popular Culture since 1500
History 622: North American Borderlands and West
History 630: Native Peoples of North America
Honors 251: Citizen and Self
Honors 251: Citizen and Self on the Road (Past Programs: San Francisco, Washington DC, and the Salish Sea)
Honors 300: Beyond Family Trees: Genealogy and Genetics
Honors 300: What Is Creativity?

Recent Talks

"Pragmatism and American Studies Methodology," Warren Center for the Humanities, Vanderbilt University, April 12, 2019.

"Family Mapping in an Age of Mass Genetic Testing," OAH Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, April 5, 2019.

"Before Creativity, 1860-1940," SIFK Workshop, University of Chicago, March 4, 2019.

"Blood and Soil Bohemianism: Mary Austin’s Racial Imaginary," MLA Annual Meeting, Chicago, January 6, 2019.

"C.L.R. James, Cricket, and American Studies Historiography," AHA Annual Meeting, Chicago, January 3, 2019.

"'I Just Need to Know': Catfishing, Creativity, and the Costs of Therapeutic Authenticity," ASA Annual Meeting, Atlanta, November 9, 2018.

“Before the Creative Class: Recruiting Artists to Berkeley in the 1920s,” Creative Cities Symposium, Stanford University, May 12, 2018.

“Territoriality, Identity, and Indigeneity,” Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, University of Louisville, March 27, 2018.

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 Last Modified 8/8/18