Biographies of American Studies Institute Instructors
Lorie Merrow is the Project Specialist in the Office of International Programs at James Madison University. Graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Arts in History and having completed coursework for the doctorate in history, she has taught in the public schools, as well as university classes in American, European and Women's history. Currently, in addition to writing and developing grant-funded projects, she administers an annual international academic conference on pedagogy in higher education and provides legal support for international students at James Madison University. Recently, she led a project to educate the local community about Islam and Muslims. She is married and has a daughter in college and a son in secondary school.
As a public secondary school teacher for 25 years, Philip Bigler has awakened his students to the excitement of learning through history. He was named the National Teacher of the Year by President Clinton in a White House ceremony in 1998 during a Rose Garden Ceremony. Bigler makes history relevant and exciting for his students. Interactive historical simulations are the basis of his courses. His students have become members of a Greek polis to debate great issues of the day. While studying Islamic history and culture, they have made a sacred pilgrimage (the hajji) to Mecca. They have argued the intricacies of Constitutional law before a mock Supreme Court, recreated the court-martial trial of Lt. William Calley and waged a fierce computer campaign for the 1960 Presidency. Bigler's students find real history in interviewing residents of the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home; they conducted oral history interviews with elderly and disabled veterans about their World War experiences.
Bigler's own love of history led him to take a break from teaching to serve as the historian at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2001, Phil Bigler became the director of the James Madison Center at his alma mater, James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The Center serves as a repository for information on the Federalist Era and maintains an extensive website devoted to James Madison (http://www.jmu.edu/madison/center). Through the Donald Robertson project (named for Madison’s first teacher), the Center works closely with K-12 teachers and offers free educational materials and support.
Bigler holds his Bachelor of History and Masters of Secondary Education/History from James Madison University and a Masters of American Studies from The College of William and Mary. He is the author of four books including Hostile Fire: the Life and Death of Lt. Sharon Ann Lane and In Honored Glory, Arlington National Cemetery, the Final Post.
Mark Facknitz is a Professor of English at James Madison University where he has taught since 1983. He has a B. A. in French, magna cum laude, from Lawrence University, an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Iowa, and a Ph. D. in English from the University of New Mexico. His fiction has appeared in "Shenandoah","The Iowa Review","The New Virginia Review" and other magazines; he is the first place winner of the 1989 Virginia Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in "The Georgia Review", "The Louisville Review", and other magazines. His critical work has been published in "Twentieth Century Literature", "Journal of Modern Literature", "Cather Studies" and numerous other journals. Besides fiction and essay writing, he has particular interests in the history of aesthetics, the literature and culture of the Great War, and interdisciplinary theories of art and culture. His essay on Great War memorials and their influence on Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial will soon appear in "Crossings: A Counter-Disciplinary Journal".
Elizabeth Chew is Associate Curator of Collections at Monticello, the plantation and home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. She conducts research on the house and its contents and on the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s family members there. She received a B.A. degree in art history from Yale University, an M. A. from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Prior to working at Monticello she spent ten years working in art museums in Washington, D.C. She has also taught art history at the University of North Carolina and at Davidson College and lectured widely.
Dr. Chew has published a number of articles and presented many scholarly papers on aspects of her academic interests: the relationships between architecture, material culture, and gender and family politics. She is fascinated by the connections between families, their dpossessions, and the buildings they inhabit.
Elizabeth Chew is married and has a two-year old son named Alexander and two Jack Russell terriers.
Howard L. Lubert was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, and attended Rutgers University, where he received his B.A., studied Political Science and English, and was a member of the Henry Rutgers Honors Program. After graduating from Rutgers he attended Duke University, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science, with a focus in political philosophy. He has held full-time teaching positions at Alma College (in Alma, Michigan) and Rutgers (New Jersey). He came to James Madison University in fall, 1999 as an Assistant Professor of Political Science. Dr. Lubert has taught courses in American constitutional law, American political thought, political philosophy, federalism, race and politics, and politics and literature. He was the recipient of a 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities award for his ongoing study of federalism in the American Founding. His publications include essays on the political thought of James Otis and Thomas Hutchinson (American colonial leaders) and Benjamin Franklin, as well as a forthcoming essay on the New York State Constitution. He is currently completing essays on Franklin and education and on federalism in the Articles of Confederation. Dr. Lubert will be on leave during the spring, 2006 term, which he intends to devote to his research on federalism and the Founding.
Steven A. Reich is Assistant Professor of History. He received his PhD from Northwestern University and the B.A. from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Before coming to JMU, he was a Summerlee Research Fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University.
He teaches courses in the United States survey, American Labor History, 20th-century American Cultural History, and Historical Methods.
His research interests include Southern Labor History, Black Politics in the Jim Crow years, and American Society during World War I. He is the author of "Soldiers of Democracy: Black Texans and the Fight for Citizenship, 1917–1921," which appeared in the Journal of American History in 1996 and won the Organization of American Historians’ Louis M. Pelzer Memorial Award. His essay "World War I and the Mobilization of Black Politics in the American South" will appear in The Black Worker: Race and Labor Activism since Reconstruction, a collection of essays edited by Eric Arnesen forthcoming in early 2005 from University of Illinois Press. He is currently the editor of the two-volume Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration of the Twentieth Century to be published by Greenwood Press in 2005, and he is completing a book-length study of the social world of early twentieth-century southern lumber camps and sawmills. He has reviewed more than a dozen books for several academic journals, including Reviews in American History, Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, Labor: Working-Class History of the Americas, and International Labor and Working-Class History.