Deviating from the Standard(s)

The timing of the Civil War is suspect. While we might trace the conflict to April 12, 1861 and the shots fired at Fort Sumter, one could argue that it began in Kansas four years earlier. Still others would argue that the civil conflict was raging in 1850, 1820, or in 1787 as delegates wrestled…

Teach My Book: Jason Phillips on The Looming Civil War: How Nineteenth Century Americans Imagined the Future

Looming Civil War explores how nineteenth-century Americans imagined the future, particularly the sectional crisis and Civil War, to understand how collective forecasts formed, spread, and made history. After researching a host of sources, including political speeches, economic predictions, sermons, literature, military records, music, diaries, private correspondence, and artifacts, I learned that two, competing temporalities framed…

Always Be Teaching: Historical Advocacy Outside the Classroom

You know the scene. It’s Alec Baldwin’s only scene. In just over seven minutes, Alec Baldwin’s “Blake” harangues four hapless real estate salesmen to Always Be Closing. The film, of course, is Glengarry Glen Ross, and its language should probably be kept out of your classroom. But there is an essential message to Baldwin’s diatribe: Go and…

Keep Calm and Zinn On

On September 16, 2018, Slate published an excerpt from Sam Wineburg’s new book, Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone). The piece, “Howard Zinn’s Anti-Textbook,” comes from a chapter entitled “Committing Zinns.” As the Slate byline makes clear, Wineburg believes that Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (originally published in 1980)…

Teach My Book: Richard Blackett’s, The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery

Teaching United States History is excited to present Teach My Book, a series of posts where distinguished authors reflect on their work and how instructors might integrate their insights into the classroom. Our thoughts today come from Richard Blackett, Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, the author of The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves,…

Discussion Boards and Memos in the Classroom

For my literature courses last spring, I tweaked a previous assignment and started a new practice that assisted students in learning the material throughout the semester. Today, I want to briefly cover the ways that I changed my discussion board and how I incorporated post-class memos into the course.