Stephanie Hinnershitz: Faculty Spotlight

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Stephanie Hinnershitz to the History Department!
Hinnershitz.editjpgStephanie Hinnershitz joins the CSU History Department this fall as Assistant Professor of History. She earned her BA from Lock Haven University, her MA from Temple University, and her PhD from the University of Maryland. Hinnershitz is the author of Race, Religion, and Civil Rights: Asian Students on the West Coast, 1900-1968 (Rutgers 2015) and has also published articles in The Journal of Social History, Immigrants and Minorities, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, and The Journal of Southern History. Her next book, A Different Shade of Justice: Asian Americans and Civil Rights in the South, will be published by UNC Press in 2017 and she is currently working on a third book project examining the unwarranted incarceration of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians during World War II. She is originally from Pennsylvania and now lives in downtown Cleveland.HInnershitz book
Courses taught:
History 303: Recent U.S. Social History *
History 112: United States History since 1877 *
(* = counts toward SST major)
What are your primary academic research and teaching areas?
I specialize in immigration and ethnic history of the United States, particularly Asian American history during the twentieth century. I also have broader research and teaching interests in the social and political history of the U.S. during the twentieth century as well as the history of American imperialism and empire.
How do you incorporate these interests into your social studies and/or history courses at CSU?
In many ways, I think I’m fortunate to have developed research and teaching interests in more recent U.S. history. I’ve found that students are often excited (I hope!) to learn about the recent past and how it shapes the world around them. Immigration has always been a timely topic, so I love having the opportunity to help students come to know and appreciate America’s immigrant past and its impact on current debates and topics. As I always tell students, immigration is American history and vice versa—there is no separating the two and, in many ways, American immigration history allows us to understand how we define things like “citizenship” and who is (and is not) allowed to become socially, culturally, and legally American. I’m also interested in social and political history of the United States since 1945 and have found that there is a bit of a blind spot for students when it comes to historical events that occurred after the 1970s, particularly in terms of the Reagan years and the post-Cold War era. In the past, I’ve offered courses on the United States in the 1980s and the History of Contemporary Issues in the U.S. that focused on the Reagan presidency and beyond to help students understand, for example, why our political scene looks the way it does today and how to explain the rise of someone like Donald Trump. Regardless of the course, I always bring in my interests in the intersections of race, immigration, and politics to encourage students to grapple with questions and debates in the field with me.
How do you use primary sources, off-campus resources, or technology in your courses?
Primary sources are essential for students to understand what it is that a historian “does,” similar to how scientists use evidence in their own work. I am always interested in showing students how historians can come to different interpretations from the same primary source, so in my introductory courses I like to have students analyze one source (a newspaper article, letter, or political advertisement) from the viewpoint of a cultural, social, or political historian. It is always interesting to see how students react to the different conclusions historians can get from the same source by looking at it from different angles. For upper-level students, I’m interested in getting them to use primary sources from local historical societies or public libraries to help them gain a sense of how a primary source can “look” different or take a different format outside of a designated archive or university setting. When students go off-campus, they gain an appreciation for how national and global events shaped local concerns and reactions as well as how different agencies manage archival materials and primary sources.
What is your favorite aspect of teaching at CSU?
This is my first semester teaching at CSU, but what I am most excited about are the opportunities for engagement that an urban environment has to offer. Specifically, one thing that I would like to do while at CSU is to develop internships for history majors with different local government agencies, charitable organizations, and non-profits in Cleveland and northeast Ohio. History majors have a lot to offer and their skills in writing, researching, and synthesizing large amounts of evidence will come in hand beyond the classroom. This is something that is not often possible at universities in smaller or more rural areas, so I’m looking forward to helping students engage with the diversity of the city while learning about social issues and urban affairs through their major. The potential for interdisciplinary collaboration between the different schools and colleges is also something I am looking forward to exploring with my students.
What advice would you give a student interested in becoming a Social Studies teacher?
Seek out mentors who are teachers and ask them everything and anything about their jobs—and ask for their honesty! Understand that there are going to be aspects of teaching that you will find challenging, draining, and that, well, you just will not like. It’s okay to admit that. In between the thrill of being in the classroom and engaging in a subject matter that you are dedicated to, there will be things that you despise. Teaching is hard work! It’s rewarding, but there will be bad days (probably many when you first begin) and it’s good to be armed with as much information as you can while making the decision to enter this profession. Also, stop procrastinating! It’s a bad habit and the sooner you kick it, the better. Break larger tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks and this will help you to be able to tackle things like lesson planning later on.
Thank you Dr. Hinnershitz and welcome to CSU!