Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Mahurin Honors College at WKU

Dr. Alexander Olson

Alex Olson

Email: alexander.olson@wku.edu

Phone: 270.745.4201

 

Title

Assistant Professor, Honors Academy
Ph.D. in American Culture, University of Michigan

Degrees

Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan, 2013

M.A., History, University of Washington, 2005

B.A., History, Stanford University, 2002

Areas of Specialization

U.S. Cultural and Intellectual History; American Studies; Creativity; Visual Culture; American West and Borderlands; Native American History; Public Humanities.

Current Book Project

American Studies: A User's Guide (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017). Co-authored with Philip J. Deloria. Publication date: September 2017.

American Studies has long been a home for adventurous students seeking to understand the culture and politics of the United States. Despite being taught in universities around the world, American Studies has resisted developing a coherent methodology for fear of losing the flexibility and freedom to imagine new avenues of thought. But what if these fears are misplaced? Through a fresh look at the origins of the field, this book contends that a shared set of “rules” can offer a springboard to creativity. American Studies: A User’s Guide offers readers a critical introduction to the history and methods of the field as well as useful strategies for interpretation, curation, analysis, and theory.


Selected Publications

“Ad Hoc American Studies: Michigan and the Hidden History of a Movement,” American Studies 55, no. 1 (2016): 107-131. Co-authored with Frank Kelderman.

“Muybridge in the Parlor,” Journal of American Studies 50, no. 1 (February 2016): 61-80.

“Citizen Stories: A New Path to Culture Change,” Public: A Journal of Imagining America 3, no. 1 (Spring 2015). Co-authored with Elizabeth Gish and Terry Shoemaker.

“‘You have rescued me from academicism’: Selections from the Correspondence of Henry Nash Smith and Mary Hunter Austin,” Southwest Review 96, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 50-65.

“Heritage Schemes: The Curtis Brothers and the Indian Moment of Northwest Boosterism,” Western Historical Quarterly 40, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 159-178. Winner of the Bert Fireman Award from the Western History Association.

“Our Leschi: The Making of a Martyr,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 95, no. 1 (Winter 2003/04): 26-36. 


Courses Offered

Honors 251: Citizen and Self

Honors 300: What is Creativity? Originality in Modern American Culture

Honors 300: California in Experience and Imagination

History 352: American Borderlands and West

History 622: Graduate Seminar in American Borderlands and West

History 630: Graduate Seminar in Native Peoples of North America


What Brought Me to the Honors College

I was drawn to the emphasis of the Honors College on student engagement. I believe students and faculty should be partners in the learning process and that undergraduate research is the bedrock of a successful college education. I teach Honors 251: Citizen and Self, both on campus in Bowling Green and in summer programs at locations around the United States and, in the future, abroad. Programs include Washington DC (2015 and 2017), San Francisco (2016), and the Salish Sea (2018). Originally from Seattle, I live in Bowling Green with my wife Nicolette and son Igor.

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 
 Last Modified 4/12/17