Public History Professor Profiles

The full and part-time faculty at Appalachian State University are professionals in a multitude of fields within historical practice and bring diverse experiences to the department. Get to know your Public History Professors a little better by reading through their responses to this brief questionnaire. If you have any further questions, feel free to send them an email at the addresses provided in their linked faculty directory listing.

Dr. Andrea Burns

Educational Background / Career History?

Andrea BurnsI received my B.A. in History (with concentrations in art history and anthropology) from Michigan State University and my Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota. After living in Wilmington, Delaware and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I moved to Boone in July 2009 to begin my career at ASU.

Area of Study / Professional Interest?

I am interested in the politics of display and representation within public history, and how people remember the past. My book, From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013) explores the origins and radical politics of African American museums that were founded during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Courses taught in the past?

I have taught Public History Practicum; Special Topics in Applied and Public History; Introduction to Public History, Senior Seminar (HIS 4100); Museum Education; Interpretation in Museums; Studies in Material Culture; Museum Management.

Favorite thing about teaching?

I enjoy guiding student public history projects, and watching how the projects (and the students!) evolve from tentative beginnings, to final, confident presentations.

Advice for current / future students?

Internships are crucial for both undergraduates and graduate students in order to get a sense of what you want to do (and not do) within the field. Once you have secured an internship, your goal is to make yourself indispensable to that organization--and to get to know as many people within the field as possible.

Where do you enjoy history in Boone?

Boone and the surrounding areas are filled with beautiful historic sites and landscapes. Few activities are more peaceful than hiking along the trails by Moses Cone's Flat Top Manor, or standing on a precipice along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and watching the mountains and clouds.

What does Public History mean to you?

As public historians, we analyze and reflect upon how people remember and interpret history, and we must work to make history--whether that means historic buildings, landscapes, museum exhibits, or archives--accessible to diverse audiences.

Dr. Kristen Deathridge

Educational Background / Career History?

I earned an MA in Archaeology from the University of Reading (UK) in 2005, and completed my PhD in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University in 2012. My research currently focuses on the adaptive reuse of religious buildings. I moved to Boone during the Summer of 2013.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Image of Dr. Kristen Deathridge

Area of Study / Professional Interest?

Historic Preservation, 20th Century American Cultural and Intellectual Thought, Archaeology & Material Culture Studies

Courses taught in the past?

History and Culture (History and Film), Introduction to Public History, Philosophy of Historic Preservation

Favorite thing about teaching?

Helping students to become professionals.

Advice for current / future students?

Work hard on developing your skills and following the questions that interest you. Talk to the people who have jobs that you think you might want, both locals and those met at conferences. Find out what has been successful for them and what has not worked so well.

Where do you enjoy history in Boone?

It may sound trite, but I love to find history in unexpected places, no matter where I am.

What does Public History mean to you?

Beyond sharing history with different audiences, one of the most rewarding aspects of this work is using public history skills to help communities tell the stories that are important to them, especially those which highlight unique perspectives and local cultural identity.

Dr. Neva Specht

Educational Background / Career History?

Neva SpechtCurriculum Vitae (PDF, 373 KB)

Area of Study / Professional Interest?

  • Material culture
  • Museum Education, exhibits public programming, grant writing, academic/community partnerships
  • Current interests are working with the NPS on cultural resource projects, especially interpretation

Courses taught in the past?

Museum Education, Exhibits and Public Programming, Theories of Material Culture

Favorite thing about teaching?

Seeing students take ownership of their work.

Advice for current / future students?

Build up your skills--photography, graphic design, web design, write grants, work on public relations and any other types of activities--by volunteering or interning. Visit museums and historic sites. See what works and what doesn't. Read about the latest trends. Network by attending professional meetings. Learn about digital humanities.

Where do you enjoy history in Boone?

I'd say Cone Estate, the old Mill ruins along the Greenway, and Camp Catawba -- and the Blue Ridge Parkway, of course :).

What does Public History mean to you?

Finding ways to make the past relevant to everyone.