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Portfolio of J.T. Carroll

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Teaching-Oriented Academic

Community-Engaging Historian

I consider myself a Transnational Cultural Historian, and I am currently completing my Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University. In terms of geographic range, I am expansively trained with graduate degrees in European and American History and specializations in Cultural History, Diplomatic History, and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

During most of my graduate studies, I have interrogated the relationship between culture and politics, and I remain particularly fascinated by the flow of culture and ideas across political borders and geographic barriers.

I have logged more than a decade of instruction time in American, European, and Global history courses at public and private institutions so far. I particularly encourage my students to critically engage with historical thought as well as experience history through primary sources and cultural artifacts. Fortunately, most students have found themselves enriched and leave my courses with a well-developed historical skill-set that is useful in other courses. 

Beyond the classroom, I am also engaged in public history projects in Kentucky and Tennessee where I have worked with local governments regarding preservation while actively recovering and documenting the histories of underrepresented peoples.

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My Perspective

Educate through Experience

I approach history from a different perspective than many historians you may encounter. As a cultural historian, I strive to introduce my students to the broad currents of history by using cultural texts and the experiences of minorities to confirm or critique the chronological march expected in most history survey courses.

My goal is that students interact with the past from the present rather than just passively learn facts. In my university courses and discussion sections, students access the past through various activities like listening to music, examining artwork, reading short stories or novels, and watching films or performances. By exploring the relationship between politics, society, and culture, it is possible for students to develop a deeper knowledge of the past that better reveals the fullness, diversity, and complexity of the human experience. 

Regardless of whether students are fulfilling general education requirements or are history majors, I am deeply committed to working with them to build the skill-set needed to succeed in history courses by practicing source interpretation, introducing and exploring key historiographical controversies, and intensely focusing on their writing and argumentation skills. History survey courses are a department’s broadest outreach to the wider campus community, and if the department wants to increase interest in history and boost course enrollments then these foundational classes must be taught in a way that encourages students to truly engage the past.

My passion for working with students has been a major feature of my evaluations, and I greatly enjoy getting to know and interacting with them as each course progresses.

Curriculum Vitae
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My broad geographic training and transnational approach enable me to teach survey courses in American, European, and World or Global history. In addition, I offer more narrowly focused courses on cultural history and gender and sexuality too.

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Undergraduate Survey Courses

Global History I: From the Ancient World to Absolutism

Global History II: From First Contact through Globalization

The broad spectrum of world history from the rise of river-based civilizations to the present is covered by this course sequence, and they should help departments who are moving away from Eurocentric “Western Civilization” courses by meeting the need for non-US survey courses.

Western Civilization I: Major Developments in Politics, Society, & Culture to 1660

Western Civilization II: Major Developments in Politics, Society, & Culture since 1660

As a sequence, these survey courses broadly cover Western Civilization from the Rise of Rome through the fall of the Soviet Union. I use the English Civil War and the rise of absolutism as the breaking points between the two. 

United States History until 1865: From Colonization to the Civil War 

The Rise of the American Century: United States History since 1865

This pair of courses examines American history from European colonization through the present day, and the Civil War and Reconstruction serve as the dividing point between them.

Undergraduate Thematic Courses

Experiencing Nineteenth-Century Europe: A Focus on History and Culture

A cultural history course that also provides a substantial survey of the “long nineteenth century” in Europe. By the end of this course, students will have a greater understanding of 19th-century European culture as well as the spread of democracy, increased political participation, and the rise of nation-states to complement the next course on 20th-century Europe. 

“Doublethinking” Twentieth-Century European History

An exploration of the emergence and variable success of competing political ideologies from the Belle Époque to the present age of terrorism and nationalist revivals. In this course, students read literature in the dystopian vein along with Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent to explore how democracies have functioned and failed in the past 120 years.

The Cultural Cold War (1945-1991): A Transnational Approach

This upper-level lecture course has a transnational focus and explores the relationship between the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union. It pushes students to think more globally about the Cold War while examining cultural developments in the fields of music, literature, art, dance, film, and sports. 

Imperial Russian History and Culture from Peter the Great to Nicholas II

Designed to not only familiarize students with major issues and events in Imperial Russian history but also expose them to Russia's rich cultural heritage. It intensively focuses on cultural developments, especially as they relate to literature, music, theatre, and ballet. 

Twentieth-Century Russian History and Culture, 1905-2000

This course functions as an exploration of key historical and cultural developments from Revolutionary Russia through the era of Putin. Students will interact with important Soviet literary works, films, musical performances, and sporting events while being introduced to the broad history of the period. 

At the Periphery of Europe: The History of Women in Russia, 1700-2018

A lecture-based investigation of the lives of women in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, which offers students the ability to compare Russian gender dynamics with their knowledge of women’s lives and gender issues in the West. 

Seminars and Workshops

Queering American History from Colonization to the Present

In this workshop course, we will explore historical research methods and read scholarship produced by historians in order to explore acts, actors, identities, and relationships of queer individuals living in North America from the Colonial Period forward. 

Seminar on Gender and Sexuality in Modern Britain

In this seminar, students will read and discuss key works of historical scholarship that examine the ways in which gender and sexuality changed over time. It treats such subjects as patriarchy, medicalization, criminalization, liberation, and more from the Early Modern Period to the present.

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Research Interests


Transnational Cultural Exchanges in the Late 19th & Early 20th Centuries


Cold War Rivalries in Dance and Sports 

The Rise of Historic Preservation & Russian Origins of UNESCO


The Writings and Artwork of Institutionalized People


For more detailed information on my research click below.

Public History Projects

Exploring the Local. Linking the Global.


Globalizing the Black Patch Tobacco Wars

At the turn of the 20th Century, tobacco farmers in Western Kentucky and Central Tennessee waged a fierce guerrilla war against the Duke tobacco monopoly, which was expanding globally and encountering resistance in China during the same period. This ongoing project explores the links between the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Black Patch Tobacco Wars that garnered national attention here in the states. I am especially interested in the shared fiery rhetoric of encroachment on the local way of life by outside forces.

Preserving a Periwinkle-Covered Past

Race relations during the Black Patch Tobacco Wars were incredibly complex. Night Riders in Lyon County, KY split into 2 camps: a racially-integrated group of farmers concerned with the economic impact of Duke's tobacco monopoly on their lives versus a smaller faction of Shirt-Tail Night Riders who committed racial violence. The internment of Kentucky Lake in the 1960s covered the site of their worst atrocity, but in the past few years volunteers have searched periwinkle-covered land for the homesites and lost cemetery of black Lyon Countians who were violently forced from their homes between 1908-1912. This small farming community near Eddy Creek was a rare example of racial integration after the Civil War, and these descendants of the original freed slaves and Union Army Veterans banded together to preserve their livelihood against the Duke family while coming under attack by their racist counterparts--the Shirt-Tail Night Riders.


Recording River Rat Subculture

This long-term project focuses on the nexus of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Cumberland Rivers by examining the histories of a handful of families in Kentucky and Tennessee who have worked these rivers for the past two centuries. The river transportation industry’s growth from the steamboat and showboat era to the modern towboat industry is explored from both the owner as well as the operator/employee standpoints.  By recovering the experiences of the “river rats” we learn how technological improvements shifted navigational strategies, how economic trends influenced cargo transports or forced mergers, and gain insights into how major government programs like the TVA and Army Corps of Engineers dramatically altered local waterways and the surrounding communities. This unique subculture is deeply intertwined with the economic success and expansion of our nation, and should merit further consideration from academics and public historians.

Feel free to reach out for more information on these projects.

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History Starts Now Blog

Check out my latest blog posts below. Topics include cultural history tidbits, discussions about teaching and the historian's craft, and most important of all--public history engagement.

History starts now, and it starts with you! Engage the present. Preserve the past.

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