Teaching & Research

Late Antique and Early Medieval historiography has blossomed into a dynamic research field through interdisciplinary collaboration between historians and archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and the sciences. I bring this interdisciplinary methodology to my history classrooms, which I structure as cross-disciplinary workshops where students learn how to apply historical tools of source analysis to novel types of evidence across diverse argumentative contexts. As a researcher conversant in these collaborative methodologies, my instructional goal is to arm students with the skills and confidence to integrate novel source types into their own research questions, so that they can become adaptive, skilled researchers and writers.

 

Archaeology for History Students

I teach history students to master interdisciplinary sources using sequences of increasingly demanding readings and exercises modeled on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Because students are initially unfamiliar with common Late Antique / Early Medieval source types such as archaeology and scientific analyses of human skeletal remains, the first classroom exercises I assign are designed to demystify this material and demonstrate its potential to answer historical questions in new ways.

In “Britain before 1000 CE,” I used a sequence of exercises to familiarize students with archaeological evidence.

  1. Students read an accessible text which used archaeological evidence to write a social history-from-below, Robin Fleming’s Britain after Rome.
  2. Students then browsed carefully selected archaeological reports in a “treasure hunt” exercise, which allowed them to become familiar with the way archaeological primary source material is published.
  3. We next completed an in-class exercise where students worked in pairs to extract data from these reports. Under my guidance, students organized this material into tables, and we analyzed it in class using common statistical methods to test a claim made in a course reading (the claim was rejected, and students were excited to learn that they were the first to disprove it).
  4. Following these exercises, I assigned increasingly analytical archaeological readings, which demonstrated how interpretations of archaeological sources depend, as with other types of historical evidence, upon scholars’ frameworks, methods, and agendas.
  5. By the end of the course, students successfully analyzed competing archaeological methodologies alongside textual sources, and used archaeological evidence to write their own historical narrative in a digital timeline exhibition for their final project.
 

Digital Humanities in the Classroom

In my courses, I assign my students to create a mixture of traditional written essays, online discussions, and digital projects and exhibitions.

  • While teaching for the University of Florida’s Interdisciplinary Humanities program, I assigned students online blog presentations using Adobe Spark, a dynamic, free tool for telling digital stories.
  • In my courses for the University of Florida’s Writing Program, my students write podcasts, translate academic articles into blogs, and design print-media poster presentations.
  • In my history courses, students engage in online discussions before class meetings that reinforce key themes from assigned texts.
  • My history students have written Wikipedia articles, op-eds, and interactive digital timelines (using free software from knightlab.com) to defend historical narratives crafted from careful research.
  • My students also compose traditional primary source analyses, literature reviews, and independent research papers.
  • In my current courses in the University Writing Program, I teach first-year students the fundamental skills of research writing: how to formulate research questions, identify evidence, craft arguments, and structure effective sentences and paragraphs that successfully communicate ideas.

Toolkits for adaptive problem-solvers

In sum, I successfully use a wide range of exercises and assignments to introduce students to new types of evidence and to challenge them to use this evidence with creativity and skill. Students leave my classroom with a broader tool-kit of methodologies for source analysis, innovative research, and publishing in both old media and new. These skills ready them for their future, whether that be further education in graduate and professional programs, or a career that demands the skills of adaptive, creative problem solving.