Ph.D., George Washington University
B.A., M.L.A., University of Pennsylvania
I was hooked on cultural studies from the time I encountered a wall of American propaganda posters from World War II at the Smithsonian during my sophomore year of college. I am fascinated by the messages and passions that can be invoked by combining simple words and images. I wanted to learn more about the intentional and effective manipulation of emotions like pride, fear and patriotism. Since then, I have been exploring the intersections of race, gender, class and privilege in history and popular culture, asking how our culture works and how what is impossible in one historical moment becomes obvious in another.
I have a deep interest in cultural, social and artistic reactions to war. My current research is on heroic mercenaries and private warriors in American popular culture—from television shows like Have Gun, Will Travel and The A-Team to anything called Soldier of Fortune (including novels, films, television and magazines between the 1850s and today) to Blackwater and other private military companies in today’s war zones. I also study veterans’ issues, action-adventure narratives, westerns, journalism, hard-boiled detective stories, romance and political rhetoric.
Writing enhances critical thinking and the process of learning, and it is an enduring way to share ideas and communicate with others. As a teacher of writing and popular culture, I help my students follow their curiosities and find their own fascinations by providing new perspectives and new ways of thinking, writing and communicating with the world around them.