The Department is pleased to welcome Professor Julia Brock to our faculty. Dr. Brock did her undergraduate work at the University of Georgia, earned her Master’s from Florida State University, and received her Doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012. Her specialty is in public history and post-Civil War American and Southern History. Her dissertation looked at hunting and game laws in the New South, when areas such as southern Georgia and northern Florida were host to northern hunters bringing an “elite sportsmanship”and “new ideas about conservation,” and how these changes affected hunting culture along the lines of race and class. Currently, Dr. Brock is working on a manuscript looking at a broader study of hunting and game law in the New South; her next project will focus on how inheritance laws have played a role in African-American land loss in the South. In addition to her research, Dr. Brock is also involved with ongoing work in partnerships with the National Park Service, a historic African-American church in Decatur, Georgia, and other independent curatorial projects.
“Like most of us who go into this field,” Brock says, “I’ve always loved history, even as a kid, and especially historic places.” She grew up visiting Civil War battlefields and says she was “taken with the power of place … places that held important stories about the past.” She stumbled into a public history class as an undergraduate, not knowing what it was, but was “completely electrified by the realization that I could work as a historian in sort of a different mode with a public audience in mind.”
Dr. Brock’s expertise will be central to building a public history program within the department, featuring offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Brock defines public history as the process of creating research outputs meant specifically for, and in partnership with, interested publics, whether that’s in museums, archives, historical spaces, or other means of public historical discourse. “I think it’s incredibly important now for historians and students who want to be historians to think about how their work is relevant for public audiences,” Brock says. “I think there’s a real hunger from the public to hear complicated stories about the past.”
This semester, Dr. Brock is teaching HY 108 – Honors American Civilization since 1865. She will be teaching HY 108 again in the Spring, along with HY 430, the Undergraduate Research Seminar. Dr. Brock is especially excited to be offering an experimental public history-focused version of the seminar, in which students will be allowed to create or design “public facing projects” such as podcasts, museum exhibits, public sites, etc. Next year, she will begin teaching pubic history courses for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr. Brock says she is excited to begin building a public history program within the Department. “There’s already really important work that’s happening on this campus that is absolutely concerned with public engagement. What’s fortunate for me is that I’ll have a lot to build from and people and places to partner with,” says Brock, referencing our own Drs. Giggie and Green, as well as The University of Alabama Museums, the Digital Humanities Center, and the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “I think I’m walking into a really exciting moment here.”
The Department is excited to have Dr. Brock join our faculty, and we can’t wait to see her work in building a public history program here. Welcome, Dr. Brock!