Explore UAB


Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Heritage Hall 360A
(205) 934-5634

Research and Teaching Interests: Contemporary US Political Culture, History of Women, Gender, and the Family, History of Energy and Environment, History of post-Vietnam US Nationalism

Office Hours: Monday 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (and by appointment)


  • B.A., University of California at Santa Cruz, American Studies
  • M.A., Brown University, American Studies
  • Ph.D., Brown University, American Studies

pdfDownload CV

I was born in San Francisco in 1970, and my parents were activists in the antiwar, New Left, and feminist movements of the era. Many of the questions that I pose as a historian emerged out of the contradictions that shaped my childhood. I came of age in a family, community, and city that embraced the social and cultural transformations of the 1960s. But as I grew up, I watched as the political culture of the United States became polarized and as new forms of social and economic inequality took hold.

I arrived at the University of Alabama in the Fall of 2019 after almost two decades of teaching at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Over the course of my teaching career, I have taught courses in contemporary US history, US and the World, the histories of women, gender, and the family, modern lesbian and gay history, and American Studies. Many of my students come from rural, conservative backgrounds and have arrived at the university against considerable odds. Their life stories and perspectives have challenged me to develop more nuanced understandings of contemporary liberalism and conservatism that move beyond accounts of polarization and the culture wars.

I live in Homewood with my husband, two children, and a mutt named Ruthie.

  • Research Interests

    In addition to teaching, I am also a writer who has authored two books and several essays and articles on U.S. political culture in the 1970s. My writing explores the intersecting histories of women and gender, the family, and foreign policy in the United States since 1968. I am especially interested in teasing out the connections between changes in family life and debates surrounding the U.S. world position after the Vietnam War. Recently, I have also written about the histories of energy, ecology, and the politics of health.

    My first book, No Direction Home: the American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968-1980 traced the relationship between debates about national decline and family decline in U.S. political culture between 1968 and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan. It was published in 2007 by the University of North Carolina Press. My latest book, Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970s, uses the 1979 nuclear accident as a lens for examining the transformation of U.S. politics in the 1970s. It was published by Columbia University Press and was selected by Choice as an outstanding academic title for 2018. In 2020, I coedited a Special Issue of American Quarterly entitled Energy Pasts and Futures in American Studies. Other selected writings have appeared in Diplomatic History, The Journal of Social History, The Journal of Women’s History, and The New Republic.

    My research has been supported by grants and fellowships from Duke University’s J. Walter Thompson Papers, the Gerald R. Ford Library, and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. In 2009, I was named a Top Young Historian by the History News Network, and in 2013 I received the Annette Kolodny Prize, awarded by the Environment and Culture caucus for the best paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association. In 2023, I was awarded the Michael D. Montaigne Endowed Prize in the History of Ideas at UAB

    I am currently writing a book-length gender history of American politics and culture in the 1980's.

  • Select Publications
    • “Contamination without Representation: Fetal Citizenship and Atomic Power in the Postwar United States,” Stephen Gross and Andrew Needham, eds., Toward a New Energy History: Energy Transitions in Europe and America during the Twentieth Century, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2023.
    • Co-editor with Professors Michael Ziser and Julie Sze (UC Davis), American Quarterly Special Issue: Energy Pasts and Futures in American Studies, September 2020.
    • “Perpetual Motion: Energy and American Studies,” American Quarterly 72:3, September 2020, 543-557 (co-authored with Michael Ziser and Julie Sze).
    • “The Odd Couple: Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, and Contemporary Charisma,” The Hedgehog Review, Spring 2020, 88-101.
    • Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970s (Columbia University Press, 2018).
    • No Direction Home: The American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968-1980 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2007).
    • Major Problems in American History Since 1945, 4th edition, co-edited with Mark Lawrence, Cengage, 2013.
    • “Atomic Nightmares and Biological Citizens at Three Mile Island,” in Eckart Conze, Martin Klimke, and Jeremy Varon, eds., Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear, and the Cold War of the 1980s, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 55-78.
    • “Radiation Suffering and Patriotic Body Politics in the 1970s and 1980s,” Journal of Social History, Spring 2015 (48:3), 1-24.
    • “Struggles for Citizenship: Gender, Sexuality, and the State (Then and Now).” A review essay of Robert Self’s All in the Family, Leigh Ann Wheeler’s How Sex Became a Civil Liberty, and Margot Canaday’s The Straight State, in The Journal of Women’s History 27:1, Spring 2015, 158-164.
    • “Restraint or Retreat? The Debate Over the Panama Canal Treaties and U.S. Nationalism After Vietnam,” in Diplomatic History: The Journal of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations 35:1, June 2011, 535-562.
    • “Private Suffering and Public Strife: Delia Alvarez’s War with the Nixon Administration’s POW Publicity Campaign, 1968-1973,” in James T. Campbell, Matthew Guterl, and Robert Lee, eds., Race, Nation, and Empire in American History (University of North Carolina Press, 2007).
  • Academic Distinctions & Professional Memberships

    Academic Distinctions

    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title for Radiation Nation, 2018
    • Visiting Fellow, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, 2016
    • Annette Kolodny Prize, Best Paper in Environmental Studies, Environment and Culture Caucus, American Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2013
    • Top Young Historian, History News Network, 2009

    Professional Societies

    • Organization of American Historians
    • American Studies Association
    • American Historical Association
    • Association for the Study of Arts of the Present
    • Society for the History of Technology
    • Nuclear Consulting Group