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Mahurin Honors College at WKU

Dr. Alexander Olson

Alex Olson


Phone: 270.745.4201



Assistant Professor, Honors Academy
Ph.D. in American Culture, University of Michigan


Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan, 2013

M.A., History, University of Washington, 2005

B.A., History, Stanford University, 2002

Areas of Specialization

U.S. History (Cultural and Intellectual); American Studies; Creativity; Native American Studies; American West and Borderlands; Race and Ethnicity; History of Education; Public Humanities.

Current Book Project

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

Alex Olson

Selected Publications

“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 Offered

Honors 251: Citizen and Self

Honors 300: What is Creativity? Originality in Modern American Culture

Honors 300: California in Experience and Imagination

History 352: American Borderlands and West

History 622: Graduate Seminar in American Borderlands and West

History 630: Graduate Seminar in Native Peoples of North America

What Brought Me to the Honors College

I was drawn to the emphasis of the Honors College on student engagement. I believe students and faculty should be partners in the learning process and that undergraduate research is the bedrock of a successful college education. I teach Honors 251: Citizen and Self, both on campus in Bowling Green and in summer programs at locations around the United States and, in the future, abroad. Programs include Washington DC (2015 and 2017), San Francisco (2016), and the Salish Sea (2018). Originally from Seattle, I live in Bowling Green with my wife Nicolette and son Igor.

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 Last Modified 9/14/17