"There is one mind
common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same
and to all of the same."
Ralph Waldo Emerson from
Plencner's Part-Time , but serious, career in History
2003-2006 Northside Prep H.S., Chicago
Taft H.S., Chicago
BA History/Secondary Ed
MA History (in progress)
James Madison Memorial Fellow, 2013
Washington Center's Pursuit of the Presidency, 2000-01;
Gilder-Lehrman Dec. of Ind. Institute at U. of VA, 2008; James
Madison Fellowship Summer Institute at Georgetown U., 2015
American politics, identity politics, suburbs studies, tourism
history, Chicago, 1970s-1990s, Gilded Age, Early American Era,
NEIU: Steven Riess (American Sports), Joshua Salzmann & June
Sochen (American), Patrick Miller (African-American), James
Morton (American politics), Ignacio Mendez & Richard Grossman
(Latin America), David Leaman (World Politics), Andrew
Eisenberg (Asia), Michael Tuck (Africa & Slavery), Susan Rosa
(Ancient), Charles Stienwedel (Russia); JMMF: Jeffry Morrison
(Regent), Daniel Dreisbach (American), Kevin Hardwick (Madison),
Teri Halperin (Richmond); GLS: David Armitage (Harvard); NDHS:
James Boylan, William DeBaets, Christopher Kuhn
|On one of my many travels (see
here), I once met a one-armed man on a beach in South
Carolina who got to talking to me about the complexities of life
and what it means to be a human. Sensing we shared common
interests, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him my
vocation, "I am a history teacher,"
to which he immediately replied, "No, you ain't!" .... I had
only minutes before met this man and he seemed to know better
than myself who I was. I got a bit angry, but before I could
challenge him, he finished, "You ain't a history teacher. You's
a YANKEE history teacher." Yes! This was a man who truly understands
the living nature of
"You ain't a history
teacher. You a YANKEE history teacher."
There is this idea that history is the study of the
past, but really it is the study of the past so we can make
sense of the present and be guided for the future. It can be a
weapon or it can be a source of inspiration. It is a flexible,
movable thing, ever-changing and ever-useful. It is negotiated.
So for me, yes, history was Yankee history. History comes from
within and always carries its author around with it.
History began for me while poking through the photo albums of my
elderly Aunt Fritz who told me stories as I asked. Instead of
the photos showing random faces, the people in them became my
great-grandparents and I was them. (The historian should strive
to be compassionate.) The past, however foggy my view was, came
alive when Is aw it through their eyes. I am almost addicted to
that haunting view into the past and search far and wide for the
ghosts that make us who we are.
I am almost always
interested in a wide variety of subjects from
genealogy to tourism history
to race relations to American politics, past and present. I
dwell often on the history of places I love like Northern
Wisconsin and the Miss-Lou region. I am always lookking for
untold stories or stories that need to be retold. This is why I
have been delving lately into the history of the 1980s and
1990s, which has only recently emerged from the flexible recent
history and is making its way into another less flexible plane
of historical existence. Since I am in a Masters' Program right
now, my current studies are usually partially prescribed by my
As of March, 2016, I am personally researching inter-group
conflict in northern Wisconsin in the post-Walleye War
era. I am assisting students who are doing
IB extended essay studies on the Crusades of the 15th
Century and TV's role in forming/reflecting the
culture of the 1960s and 70s. Projects on the
backburner include a study of youth involvment in
counter-civil rights protests on the Northwest Side of Chicago
and the editing and revising of my unpolished and unfinished
research into Natchez historical memory.
I am teaching
AP/Honors US History and Chicago
History at Taft High School in Chicago for a living. See my
These are a selection of past papers
reflecting some research previously considered. Please contact
me if you have any questions. If you cite them, please
note these are unpublished, barely edited, and certainly not
peer reviewed and that I retain all rights (and
responsibilities) to the ideas presented.
Re-Interprets the Big House (2016)
A study of African American
challenges of racism in the Natchez Pilgrimage, a living
history tourist attraction that is a cornerstone of the
local Natchez economy. Includes a study of grassroots
Black self-empowerment during the civil rights movement
and the white backlash.
rights, tourism, Jim Crow, slavery, historical
An in depth study of grassroots
backlash politiccs in the rural context of Northwenmost
Wisconsin's Walleye Wars. In the 1980s, as the Ojibwe
tribe fought for its treaty rights to spearfish in local
lakes, whites reacted bitterly to what they saw as a
threat to the livlihoods in the tourism business.
Tourism, treaty rights, Native
Americans, Wisconsin, fishing, Silent Majority, 1980's.
Right Stuff (2001)
An exploration of pop culture
from the American Victorian Era as it approaches sport
and physical fitness. This is done through the eyes and
writings of America's biggest sports fan of the era:
President Theodore Roosevelt.
Roosevelt, physical fitness, sports, boxing, hunting.
The One Drop Myth
An overview of leading
scholarship and debates in the historical field on the
identity of the Black Creoles of Louisiana and
Mississippi, a people who straddle the line between
white and black in a torn America.
Crow, slavery, racial identity, binary, Civil Rights,
A Matter of Common
A short argument for the James
Madison Fellowship Summer Institute about the idea that
the American Revolution was not a liberal event, but
rather a conservative one, meant to defend the status
quo in America.
Revolution, colonialism, Declaration of Independence,
the Suburbs (2014)
Critics argue that the suburbs
are not worth studying and a wasteland of culture devoid
of history. I counter that idea with this overview of
leading scholarship and highlight new arguments being
made about the suburbs in American history.
Suburbs, racial identity, identity
politics, Civil Rights, 1950s and 60s, American
Kicking the Constitutional Can (2015)
This paper examines the
wheeling and dealing and ups and downs of the politics
behind the ratification of thee Constitution in the
1780s. Federalists and Anti-federalists battled it out
and eventually compromised, leaving many unanswered
questions that lead to Civil War.
An earlier version of the
"Common Sense" paper above. In this version is presented
the Beard argument that the Founding Fathers acted to
protect their economic interests..
Revolution, politics, colonialism,
The Failure of China's First Modernization (2014)
This paper approaches attempts
made by rebel Christian Chinese leaders to develop a
modern constitution during one of the deadliest wars in
world history, the Taiping Rebellion, in the mid-1800s.
China, politics, modernization,
Christianity, statecraft, charismatic leadership
Jesus versus the Meiji State (2016)
An examination into the
evolution of Christianity in the Meiji Era, an era
marked by Japanese state-building and religious
persecution, as seen through the lens of the patriotic
Christian leader Uchimura Kanzo.
Japan, politics, modernization,
Christianity, patriotism, church and state