I am a cultural and intellectual historian of early modern Europe and its relationship with the wider world. My research focuses on central and eastern Europe, but my writing and teaching more generally look at transcultural trends across Europe and beyond. My first book, Islam, Christianity, and the Making of Czech Identity, 1453 – 1683, examines the construction of Czech identity from the Fall of Constantinople to the final siege of Vienna through discourse about the Turk.
- Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1992
- M.A. University of California, Berkeley, 1986
- B.A. City College of the City University of New York, September 1981
- Summa Cum Laude
- Lecturer. Department of History. San Francisco State University. 1998-Present
- Lecturer. Department of History. University of California, Berkeley. Summer 1996-2005
- Lecturer. Department of History. Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, CA. Summer 1996.
I’ve been fully formed and nurtured in California public schools and universities, all in northern California. Fortunately, my scholarly career made it possible for me to give back, first for more than two decades as a history professor at University of California, Davis, and since 2012 as a member of the SF State faculty.
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I had difficulty choosing between a major in history, or sociology. This is evidence of a fundamentally interdisciplinary inclination toward knowledge and understanding the world. Due to historical and personal circumstances, I found myself in the Caribbean after completing a master’s degree in England. Here I worked as an educational planner for the Ministry of Education of the newly independent Government of Jamaica.
I am an historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States, and I am especially interested in women’s and gender history, as well as the history of social movements. My dissertation research focused on a network of left-wing feminists in Progressive Era California that was unusual for its commitments to women’s economic independence and redistributive social policies.
In both teaching and research, I love to explore the juncture of history and literature. As art imitates life and life also imitates art, I believe history and literature can inform each other in numerous ways. This is particularly true with regard to China, where an amazingly exuberant literary tradition has for millennia molded the collective mentality and behavior of not only the intellectuals but also the semi-literate and even the illiterate populace. Furthermore, many Chinese historians double as essayists and storytellers.
I have recently returned to the academy after a career in law and management in the areas of telecommunications and internet services. While my focus is modern European history, I believe that European ideas, institutions and practices must be considered in a global context. My interests focus on legal and political activities and ideas as expressed in the system of states and empires and their shared culture. This encompasses such issues and topics as international law, sovereignty, revolution and how states and their economies/societies interact.
I am a historian of Africa whose interests include interdisciplinary methodologies, critical theory, and popular ways of thinking about the past. Most of my work revolves around issues surrounding gender and slavery in West Africa, although I have also published in the fields of world history, heritage studies in South Africa, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and modern imperialism and colonialism.