Teaching

I am dedicated to bringing diverse subjects to life in the classroom and incorporating voices of enslaved and marginalized people in all my classes, whether “U.S. history to 1865” or “Slavery and Human Trafficking.” Diversity, in other words, is much more than a rhetorical commitment. Including African American, Native American, and women’s voices in historical sources is essential to an elaborate and nuanced discussion of any issue.  I fully support the contention that we should be measured as teacher-scholars by whom we include—not whom we exclude—and how they succeed. I mentor students at all levels and am immensely proud of their achievements.

My teaching philosophy is that past landscapes may be unfamiliar, but no human experience is alien to the imagination. Each fact is theory-laden, and history strives to comprehend the context vital to putting human experience into practice. Whether a student goes into business, the professions, arts, scientific research, or caregiving, context and a knowledge of human organizations is key to success. My signature courses include “African American history to 1865,” “Capitalism,” and “The Global History of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” beside graduate and undergraduate courses on the American Civil War, Reconstruction, and the early United States. Other courses include “The Vernacular History of African Americans,” “Women and Families in Slavery in the Modern Atlantic World,” and “Slavery, Race, and Poverty in the Nineteenth-Century South.”

Increasingly, I teach thematic courses on capitalism and related themes. Capitalism has been the great creative development of the modern era, and it has also been the engine of widening inequalities of outcomes. I teach its historical contexts to emphasize what Joseph Schumpeter called its creative destruction, its massive power to harness creativity to economic power and the tendency of the process to create winners and losers. In particular, I teach on how slavery’s legacies intersected with modern capitalism. Courses under development include, “Capitalism, Race, and Empire,” which is a thematic overview of the rise of capitalism in the early Atlantic world with particular attention to imperialism and the making of race. “The Business History of Richmond,” uses the Harvard Business School case study method to explore the growth and development of central Virginia, and “Capital, Labor & Gender in the Global South,” examines the contours and contrasts of the process of capital liberation and the female labor and women workers hidden at the heart of modern globalization.

In recognition of my teaching and mentoring, the Associated Students of Arizona State University awarded me their Centennial Professorship for 2010-11, and I was nominated for Arizona State’s College of Liberal Arts and Science’s Zebulon Pearce Award for teaching excellence in 2016 and 2018.