As an urban historian, my research explores how people have constructed–physically and metaphorically–the urban environment in which they live. 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, especially through the lens of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
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 was published by Johns Hopkins University Press. A few years back, I was excited to have been interviewed about an aspect of the project in the context of an incident in Tennessee in which firefighters let a house burn because its owners had not paid the subscription for the fire service. The interview, by Robert Siegel, appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, and asked me to consider the historical background of fire protection. I blogged about the context in stream of consciousness style over at urbanhumanist.
I am also at work on a book on oral history and the problems facing public history in the 21st century, which focuses on how curation has re-emerged as an important concept in the wake of the digital revolution.