After earning my B.A. in English (with a focus on British and American novels) from Washington and Lee University in 1982, I pursued graduate studies in history at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from 1986-1987, then completed my Master's Degree in American Studies at Purdue University in 1994 and my PhD in American History (with minor fields in Ancient History and the History of Science and Technology) in 2004, also at Purdue. In the meantime and since, besides teaching a full range of courses in American History, Government and Culture as well as Western Civilization (including Great Britain and the British Empire), I have also worked at a number of public history venues in the U.S. (including for the National Park Service and five years at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello) as well as authored entries for American History, the History of Science and other reference and classroom volumes.
Course Description: After almost a century of global economic and then military dominance by the United States (soon to be superseded by China, India et al?), it may be hard to remember that only a little over a hundred years ago, a small island nation on the periphery of Europe “ruled” over 1/5 of the world’s population, possessed the largest and most modern navy on the globe, and still served as the economic epicenter of the western world (though even then rapidly losing that positon to the U.S. and Germany), as it had ever since the Industrial Revolution started there nearly two centuries before.
On the heels of Great Britain’s rise to world power status came the English language itself and British culture more generally, so that even today students read Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens in places as wide apart as Adelaide, Australia, Norman, Oklahoma and in fact across Europe as well. Meanwhile, the influence of all things British, from the monarchy to the Beatles to Arsenal, has continued well beyond the end of the British empire itself, down to the present day. And though Great Britain now wrestles with many of the same issues facing all the “mature” western democracies, from deindustrialization to the challenges of transforming itself into a multi-cultural society and now trying to manage “Brexit,” it does so against a unique backdrop of great historic depth and complexity.