The American Studies Workshop for Teachers

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The American Studies Workshop for Teachers, a partnership initiative of the Humanities Institute, brings together secondary education teachers and Fairfield University faculty to explore the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of American Studies. Working collaboratively within a variety of disciplines, including English, social studies, and the visual and performing arts, our team of subject experts facilitate strategically designed, professional development workshops that instruct and inspire secondary education teachers to wrestle with new content areas, reformulate familiar subject matter, and many times, achieve both. This examination of a given topic in a variety of formats becomes a catalyst for teachers to re-imagine and transform student experiences in the classroom.

More than 35 one to two hour workshops are available and can be facilitated at your school or on Fairfield's 200-acre modern campus. Topics cover an array of historical subject matter from Women’s Rights, slavery, and religious freedom, to pop music, American art, and the 20th entury space race. 

The price per workshop is $250 per hour, which includes travel to your school.

To arrange a workshop or workshops with our faculty, please contact us at


Workshops & Presenters

Peter L. Bayers, PhD


Professor of English

Featured Workshops:

  • Celluloid Savagery: Hollywood, American Indians, and American “History”
  • Celluloid Sovereignty: American Indian Film and the Reclamation of History
  • Plymouth Rock to Standing Rock: The Frontier Myth and National Identity
  • The Book and Indian Country: Reimagining 18th-20th Century American History through Native Writing
  • Tell Dianne Sawyer I am a Warrior: Teaching Native Culture and History through Lakota Hip-Hop

Philip Eliasoph, PhD


Professor of Visual & Performing Arts

Featured Workshops:

  • Through a Looking Glass, Darkly: American History & Culture Viewed through the Clear or Distorted Mirror of Visual Art History
  • Learning to Look at American Art - A Survival Guide for Digital Natives: Searching Beyond the Pixels to the Reality of America's Master Artists
  • Artistic Sublimes vs. Social Protest: Should Museum Exhibits Be Neutral or Politically Confrontational?
  • American Culture vs. Exceptionalism: How Does Good Art Teach the Wrong Messaging?
  • Sex, Sin, Scandal, and Controversies in American Art: How Far Does the First Amendment Become a Fig Leaf for Offensive Art?

Elizabeth Hohl, PhD


Assistant Professor of History

Featured Workshops:

  • Women, Their Rights, and Nothing Less: The 19th Century Woman’s Movement
  • New Women in the Progressive-Jim Crow Era
  • The Personal Is Political: Life Writing and Women’s Liberation
  • The War of My Life Had Begun: Enslaved People’s Resistance in Antebellum America
  • Votes for Women: New Perspectives on the Centennial

Anna Lawrence, PhD


Associate Professor of History

Featured Workshops:

  • John and Abigail Adams: Romantic Love and Women’s Rights in Revolutionary Times
  • Black Women in Slavery and Freedom
  • Revolutionary Religion: Did Evangelicalism Help Cause the Revolution?
  • The Birth of the Black Church and Black Freedom in the 19th c.
  • Mary Rowlandson: Native Americans and Puritan Culture
  • Teaching Slave Narratives: Equiano, Douglass, and Jacobs
  • From Republican Mother to True Woman: Women’s Roles in the Early Republic

Martha LoMonaco, PhD


Professor of Visual & Performing Arts

Featured Workshops:

  • "Play" in Your Social Studies Classroom: Dramatizing America's Stories
  • Plays, Players, and Playwrights Take the Stage in Your English Class
  • Staging American History
  • Who Gets to Tell Our Stories? Finding American Voices through Drama

David McFadden, PhD


Professor of History

Featured Workshops:

  • America and the World: Turning Points in American Foreign Policy
  • American Prophets and Social Movements in the 19th and 20th Centuries
  • Great Issues in 20th Century American History

Emily Orlando, PhD


Professor of English

Featured Workshops:

  • From Edith Wharton to the Kardashians: Women, Art, and the Sexual Politics of Representation
  • Radical Domesticity: Imagining Kate Chopin in the Age of #metoo
  • Sight Lines: Teaching Literature on the Woman Question through Visual Culture
  • Reinventing Edith Wharton: Nella Larsen, the Harlem Renaissance, and Feminism

Louise Palmer, PhD


Adjunct History Professor

Featured Workshops:

  • Bodies on the Slab: Race, Class, and Autopsy in 19th-Century American Medicine
  • The Threat of a Silent Spring: Rachel Carson and the Origins of the American Environmental Movement
  • Arms Race, Space Race: American Science and Politics in the 20th Century



Adam E. Rugg, PhD


Assistant Professor of Communication

Featured Workshops:

  • The Fight Against Fake News: Finding Truth in U.S. Media in the Age of Misinformation
  • More than a Game: Teaching the Relationship Between American Sports, Society, and Politics

Brian Torff


Professor of Music

Featured Workshops:

  • Jazz and the American Story
  • Critical Issues in American Popular Music: Blues to Hip-Hop
  • Rock and Soul: Race and Gender Issues in American Music

Ellen Umansky, PhD


Professor of Religious Studies

Featured Workshops:

  • From George Washington's Welcome to Current Supreme Court Justices Ginsberg, Kagan, and Breyer: The Not-So-Secret History of Jews in History

Lydia Willsky-Ciollo, PhD


Professor of Religious Studies

Featured Workshops:

  • Teaching about Religious Diversity, Teaching to Religious Diversity
  • Strange Bedfellows: Teaching about Church and State

Teacher Testimonials

“I have had a very positive experience learning from Fairfield’s American Studies faculty. As a social studies teacher, I find it extremely useful to be in classes that combine history, politics, sociology, and English among other subjects. This program is making me a better, more well-rounded teacher while simultaneously challenging my academic inquiry.”

Kelsy Doheny
Social Studies Teacher, Bethel Middle School


“I have had an incredible experience with the Fairfield faculty. They have encouraged me to think more critically, write more clearly, and approach a variety of topics from a multi-dimensional perspective. My experience has enriched my life as a teacher and as an American citizen, allowing me to look more deeply at the ways in which our nation has come to be defined by its arts, culture, politics, and people.”

Benjamin Gott
English Teacher, Greens Farms Academy


“Fairfield’s American Studies faculty has expanded my content knowledge and conceptual framework in ways that have been invaluable to me as a social studies teacher. As a result, my high school classroom benefits from a rich infusion of supplementary materials that I otherwise would not have.”

Evan Olmstead
Social Studies Teacher, Greenwich High School

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