I'm an assistant professor of U.S. history and material culture at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, with a focus on urban society, capitalism, race, gender, and sexuality in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a public historian, I believe history should be exciting for and accessible to everyone. My work has appeared at smithsonianmag.com, Racked.com, theconversation.com, as well as in Winterthur Portfolio and The New England Quarterly. I am currently co-editing a special issue of Business History, "Changing Secondhand Economies," forthcoming.
I am available as a historical content consultant for museums exhibits, films and television, and other visual formats.
My book, From Goodwill to Grunge: A History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies (UNC Press, 2017) looks at how secondhand goods sold at thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales came to be both profitable and culturally influential. By focusing on dress and clothing, the book shows how conservative and progressive social activists--from religious and business leaders to anti-Vietnam protesters and drag queens-- used the exchange of secondhand goods for economic and political ends. Artists and performers, from Marcel Duchamp and Fanny Brice to Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain, all helped make secondhand style a visual marker for youth in revolt.