professor of history and Asian studies


  • B.S., history, secondary education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
  • M.A., history, University of Minnesota, 1996
  • Ph.D., history, University of Minnesota, July 1999

My Love of Teaching

I have a special passion for teaching first- and second-year students about the use of photographs as historical documents, propaganda, and art. In this course, Pictures in History, students start their journey by encountering history’s most iconic images, and learning how to express their intellectual and emotional responses to such images.

As we learn more about how photographs are made, circulated, and consumed, students come to understand the many layers of meaning that can attach to an image. The student projects and discussions about photographs and societies frequently produce ‘lightbulb going off’ moments that make liberal arts education so exciting.

My Research Interests

I am a historian of East Asia—Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China—by training. My research interests have led me to develop a course about the rise and fall of great Asian dynasties such as the Qing (China), the Tokugawa (Japan), and the Joseon (Korea). By studying the varied paths to modernity taken in the region, students learn about social organization, governments, the ecology, and ethnic relations in settings that are quite novel for most of them.

I also teach a course about World War II that takes Asia as the focus. Here, students take a longer view of things by considering the colonization of Taiwan and Korea by Japan as part of a long ‘50-year’ that ultimately led to the famous attacks on Pearl Harbor. In this course, we consider such weighty issues as ‘why do people fight wars?’ and ‘what is the difference between a legal war and an illegal war?’

We also examine the difference between military history as the story of battles and narratives that emphasize the participation of noncombatants in the making of war. Teaching and writing about East Asia is exciting because so much of the past there continues to inform the present, in terms of today’s politics, economics, and environment. The countries of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are also sources of literature, philosophy, art, film, and popular culture that continue to inspire people throughout the world.

Why Lafayette?

Teaching at Lafayette has provided opportunities for me to mentor students as research assistants and thesis writers on interim study-abroad trips. Even decades after these experiences, I’m still in contact with students who either took classes with me or worked on projects. It is a thrill to see all of the amazing things they are accomplishing in the world beyond Lafayette College.

Personal Interests/Community Work

I serve on the board of directors of the Historic Easton Cemetery and have been active in researching the lives and contributions of the people who are interred there. It’s a remarkable site that reveals so much about Easton’s rich history and the history of our country. I also serve as vice president of the board of directors for Family Connection of Easton, a nonprofit family center for the Easton Area School District.