Learning about the past is empowering. When people develop deep understandings of the historical circumstances that have shaped their lives, they can situate themselves with broader political, social, environmental, and other contexts. They can also use that knowledge to create change.
I work not only to impart historical knowledge, but to encourage others to conduct and share their own research. I especially emphasize inclusion, diversity, and creativity. By encouraging students to think about the past from critical perspectives, and by teaching them to research diverse sources as well as to communicate through a variety of media, I teach students to create and share knowledge that is empowering and transformative for both themselves and their communities.
Content selection is key. In undergraduate courses, I strike a balance between teaching the past for it’s own sake, and teaching the past so as to illuminate the present. For example, in my first-year women’s history course, I explore the role of gender in relation to Indigenous cultures, colonization, enslavement, and Confederation so as to teach students about these topics. Yet I also discuss these issues so that students may draw connections between them and their own lives.
So that students may conduct their own investigations, I place strong emphases on identifying and interpreting historical materials. For example, I have asked first-year students to analyze oral history narratives in the film, And We Knew How to Dance, which features interviews with women who worked during the First World War. I have also had third-year students research such periodicals as Maclean’s Magazine and Womonspace News. Further, I have had third-year students write papers on the 1923 and 1977 versions of the popular home economics text, the Canadian Cook Book.
Since people approach the past through a variety of media, I encourage students to share history in ways beyond the written word. Strong scholarly writing is emphasized in all of my work, but I do also assign such projects as podcasts and posters. Especially in undergraduate courses, which attract a variety of students with numerous skillsets, I encourage experimentation. I also encourage students to share their research with others. In Winter 2019, I held a public exhibit of my second-year students’ research creation assignments. Over 70 people attended, exploring projects ranging from songs to podcasts to posters to historical replicas.
At the Honours and graduate level, I teach students to share research through conferences, talks, and refereed articles. In 2017 and 2019, I organized events at the Regina Public Library whereby my Honours and graduate students gave talks. I have as well arranged for my students to present papers to such conferences as the Canadian Historical Association’s Annual Meeting and the Western Association for Canadian Studies Conference. Additionally, I have included one of my Research Assistants as a co-author on a scholarly article and have guided several students in the preparation and submission of book reviews and refereed articles.
Last updated August 2020