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Mahurin Honors College at WKU

Dr. Alexander Olson

Alex Olson


Phone: 270.745.4201



Assistant Professor, Honors Academy



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

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

B.A., History, Stanford University, 2002


Areas of Specialization

American Studies; U.S. History; Environmental Studies; Native American History; U.S. West and Borderlands; African American Studies; Cultural Geography; Gender and Sexuality; Visual Culture; 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 240: U.S. History to 1865

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

Study Away/Study Abroad: Washington DC, San Francisco, Salish Sea


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 through summer programs in Washington DC (2015 and 2017), San Francisco (2016), and the Salish Sea (2018). I also offer courses in the History department. Originally from Seattle, I live in Bowling Green with my wife Nicolette and son Igor.

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 Last Modified 10/23/17