I am a history professor at Arizona State University. On any given day, I research, write, teach, work with the community on public history projects, or explore the digital humanities. I teach Urban History, Public History, and Digital Humanities courses. In the past, I have taught courses on Landscape, Environment, US History, and Social Studies. I am available in my offices on most Wednesdays.
As an urban historian, my research explores how people have constructed–physically and metaphorically–cities and suburbs in the United States. I am completing a book manuscript in which I explore how urban memorials and public art reveal the changing nature of cities and community identity in the twentieth century. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens and Northern Ohio’s vernacular landscape serve as a lens through which to refract a broader story of changing urban landscapes across the nation. I am also researching air racing, exploring how Americans constructed identity, risk, and spectacle in the first half of the twentieth century. My first book, Eating Smoke: Fire in Urban America, 1800-1950, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
As a digital humanist, I have led the development of Curatescape, a mobile publishing framework for curating landscapes and museums that is now being used in more than 30 communities worldwide. Curatescape developed out of the my collaborative research at Cleveland State University, where I taught prior to moving to Arizona State University in 2013. I was the founding director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities. The lab’s work included Teaching & Learning Cleveland, built in the open-source Omeka software from the Center for History & New Media. The lab also created the award-wining Cleveland Historical project through which Mark Souther, Erin Bell, and I curate the city in collaboration with students and communities. Cleveland Historical was the first instance of Curatescape.
In Cleveland, I was also deeply engaged in training future social studies teachers, through both my undergraduate teaching but also through professional development programs that I direct. I was Principal Investigator on four Teaching American History Grants (an initiative of Robert Byrd and George W. Bush), directly training over 400 teachers (from more than 70 different school districts) in Northern Ohio.
As a digital humanist, I blog as urbanhumanist, keeping an online diary. I rarely blog these days (as I’m trying to write my books) but in the past, I’ve tried to record my thoughts about professional currents, occasionally comment about ordinary life, and sometimes comment on political matters. The blog began and continues as a way to train myself in the digital humanities. Let me be perfectly clear that posts on urbanhumanist reflect my personal views and sentiments; they are not those of my employer, my department, or my colleagues.