I have taught a variety of courses in American History, American Studies, and Public History and Museum Studies at American University, Eastern Illinois University, and at Brown University.
Classes at American University coming soon!
EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY:
HIS 2020: History of the United States Since 1877 (FA2013, SP2014, FA2014, SP2015)
Building upon my own specialization as a cultural historian, my emphases in this course coalesces around the way that historical change is both influenced by and reflected upon different registers (political, economic, diplomatic, social, and cultural), and how historical accounts and narratives are formed through both evidence and context. I chose a textbook (Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty) that incorporated a number of different “kinds” of history, and a primary source reader (For the Record) that included several forms of primary evidence, supplementing those with others as I see fit. In lecture, I often use cultural examples to help students understand political developments (The nineteenth-century World’s Fairs as a way of discussing U.S. imperialism), and also invite students to evaluate popular forms to see how particular narratives are formed and change over time (a discussion of how major themes in nineteenth-century dime novels continue to be reflected in today’s Westerns, and how these narratives deviate from other accounts of the historical West).
Syllabus: RYMSZA HIS2020 SP2015
Colleen Flaherty, “Historians Discuss the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Teaching Popular History,” Inside Higher Ed, January 5th, 2015 (discussion of this course)
HIS 2091: History of the United States Since 1877—Honors (FA2014)
Each week, students created presentations and handouts on textbook chapters, and we worked through the material together. I also assigned several monograph chapters as reading to supplement the textbook, both the students and I enjoyed discussing these more specialized topics. Finally, we focused on working comparatively with primary documents—students wrote two short papers, expanding one into a longer research paper.
Syllabus:RYMSZA HIS2091 FA2014
HIS 5110: History Museum Exhibits I (FA2013, FA2014, FA2015)
Students learned about the history and theory of museum exhibition, read about guidelines, best practices, and examples from the field, and worked on their own exhibition. In 2013, they created an exhibit using the Buzzard Textile Collection at the Tarble, and in 2014, they began working on an exhibit about the history of the Lab School at Eastern in partnership with the College of Education and Professional Studies. It was somewhat challenging to juggle all three of those components, giving each equal time while at the same time, making them relate to one another. I chose from a variety of different texts (both academic and professional—often one of each), and created several different kinds of assignments: from traditional scholarly analyses of themes, to professional memo writing, to a course blog in which students translated academic concepts for a more general audience through reflection and examples. Students were placed into three groups: curatorial, artifact, and design, in which they completed a final group project corresponding to a part of exhibition development. I arranged several training sessions in digital applications (Wikis, iMovie, Photoshop, Omeka, SketchUp, and InDesign) as well as introduce several digital history platforms in class—I anticipate that this will serve them well on the job market.
Syllabus:5110 syllabus FA2015 RYMSZA
“Thinking About History Exhibits” (Course Blog)
Lab School Collection (Student Omeka Project, 2014)
HIS 5111: History Museum Exhibits II (SP2014, SP2015)
This course is a continuation of HIS5110, in which theory is put into practice as students continue to develop, design, install, program, and evaluate the exhibit which they begin working on the previous semester. I divided the students into three new groups: Exhibit, Marketing, and Education. Part of the challenge of planning this class is that creative and collaborative work is unpredictable by nature; especially in terms of the exhibit. In addition to the syllabus, I made a “tasks list” for each group, and asked students to post their work on a Google spreadsheet—ensuring that both they and I knew who was doing what, and that collaborative work was divided evenly. At the end of the semester, after the exhibit opened, each group turned in a group portfolio documenting their activities, as well as individual reflections and self-evaluations. The 2011 exhibit, “Mission, Method, Memory” won the Illinois Association of Museums Award of Merit in exhibits.
Syllabus (2015):RYMSZA HIS5111
Team Task Breakdown:RYMSZA HIS5111 TEAM TASK BREAKDOWN
Workflow:RYMSZA HIS5111 Workflow Spreadsheet
“Text & Textiles: Crafting The Lives Of Guy and Irene Buzzard” (Tarble Arts Center, 2014) exhibit website
“Mission, Method, Memory: The Lab School at EIU” (Lab School Museum, College of Education and Professional Studies, 2015) exhibit website
CEAC0907: American Consumer Culture, 1870-present (Brown Summer Studies 2-week Course)
Both critics and adherents have described the modern era in the United States as a “culture of consumption.” Beginning with the advent of mass production, advertising, and branding, this course examines the development of modern consumer culture, from its foundations in the 1870’s through the present. Topics include the introduction of the department store and the mail order catalog, magazines, and advertising at the beginning of the twentieth century, the postwar boom in consumption, and the contemporary globalized market. This course also has a strong visual component; alongside the academic readings, we look at novels, films and other media artifacts that communicate the narratives and aesthetics of consumption.
AMST1610Z: American Popular Culture (Fall, 2012)
Popular culture is a part of our everyday lives, but also an important site at which to examine how American identities are shaped and reflected through film, television, music, performance, and fashion. This course traces the history of American popular culture from the nineteenth century to the present, looking at the production and reception of popular culture, as well as the cultural texts themselves. Paying particular attention to the development of different media and looking at case studies including world’s fairs, the zoot suit, sitcoms, and disco, we consider how Americans have made meaning using popular culture.
Syllabus:RYMSZA AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE
AMST91G-S01: TV on History (Fall, 2011)
This course explores commercial television’s influence on our understanding of the American past and the way that this sense of history, in turn, helps audiences to form cultural and political identities. We will discuss foundational methods for critical analysis of television as we use this inquiry to examine some of the guiding themes of American Studies. This class, which has a significant viewing component, traces the evolution of history-based programming in many genres and considers the message and impact of programs such as Ken Burns’ Civil War, Roots, Colonial House, and Mad Men.
Syllabus: RYMSZA TV ON HISTORY