Teaching remains front-and-center on my professional agenda. As the director of the public history program at UNLV, I teach students about American history. I also show them how history is presented, interpreted, and revised to suit our social and cultural needs. History—and the study of it—is shape shifting.
My teaching and research inform one another. Material culture is primary to both. When I worked in a museum, I had high schoolers pull a steamer trunk across the room before I talked about immigration. In my classes, architecture, decorative arts, textiles, and clothing are discussed, seen, and touched. I place these objects in their historical context and connect them to larger themes of the twentieth century: the evolution of consumerism; changes in meanings of “masculinity” and “femininity”; and the development of the American middle class.