This year’s course, taught by Made By History editors Carly Goodman and Katie Brownell, produced op-eds published to the Post’s site from four of the nine UVA students enrolled.
Goodman, a historian and author who recently was an assistant professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia, called the UVA students “remarkable” to work with.
“They brought incredible energy,” she said. “I hope that they found it as invigorating as we did on the teaching side. It’s really cool to see institutions putting money where their mouth is and making investments in these kinds of experiences to really help their graduate students navigate what is a difficult job market.”
The digital-only Made By History section was established in 2017 as a dedicated space for bringing historical analysis of current events to a broad audience. Experienced scholars are typically the guest authors but, Goodman said, “we are also very interested in publishing work by emerging scholars because they sometimes have the most interesting insights.”
Bell took the news hook of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move to ban Advanced Placement courses on African American studies from the state’s high schools and placed it in historical context by highlighting a pattern that began with the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the late 19th century. The UDC, a neo-Confederate organization that endorsed the Ku Klux Klan, “made it its mission to instill a white supremacist version of history in generations of American children,” Bell wrote in her Washington Post article, “Florida’s rejection of an AP course is the latest salvo in a very old war.”
“My goal of the piece was for people to look at this and see how these ideas connect,” Bell said, “and not just until the 1920s or ’30s, but all the way through to the present day.”
Finding ways to deliver research that appeals to an audience beyond the academia world is a key skill for today’s young historians, said Will Hitchcock, a UVA history professor and director of the Governing America in a Global Era program.
“The profession is changing,” Hitchcock said. “So people who come to get a Ph.D. in history aren’t necessarily going to become history professors. The market has changed, the college and universities are changing, so giving history students a little bit of training in how to engage the public is part of a broader process of introducing them to alternative paths.
“It’s not always going to be that you just end up as a history professor. You need to be able to write and talk to people in the public who are not inside the academy.”
Brianna Frakes is a doctoral candidate in American history at UVA who, on Jan. 31, had her op-ed – “The Emancipation Proclamation sparked fierce resistance. That matters today.” – published in the Post. Before coming to UVA, she worked as a tour guide and program lead at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond. That’s where she first learned to relate to a general audience. Her experience with the Post has enhanced her capabilities.