I study the ordinary people and experiences that shape our lives: the everyday structures that we drive past on our way to the monument; the unfamiliar music that confronts us as we turn the radio dial toward our station; the forgotten person whose letters we discover in our search for the politician or the celebrity.
As a historian, I ask: How do these everyday people and experiences add up to the larger patterns by which we identify a culture? How do those patterns then dissolve and transform themselves anew? My search for answers takes me in two directions: first, to the built environment and the people who have shaped, described, and pictured it; and second, to the matter of how history itself is told and understood. Both of these efforts draw on my earlier experiences in historic preservation, urban planning, and museum work. Here at IU, the job of editing the Indiana Magazine of History gives me an opportunity to continue to work around the “margins” of historical practice, as I collaborate with both professional historians and public audiences to shape a fresh discussion about what this region’s history mean to us as we look to our future.
I look forward to working with students who are interested in cities, landscape, material culture, music, public history, writing and editing, and the vexed question of just what is a Hoosier.