McKayla (TA) Introduction

Hello all and welcome!

I am McKayla Sluga, your TA for this course. Firstly, I am incredibly excited to work with you all throughout the coming weeks in my first experience with teaching an online course. Let me introduce myself a bit:

After completing a double major in History and American Studies with a minor in Philosophy at Elmira College (in upstate NY), I came out to Michigan just this past year to work on my PhD in History here at MSU. I played softball and basketball at Elmira, and continued playing music in a concert ensemble. My research focuses on the intersections of radical politics and culture, primarily how artists and intellectuals respond to their societies as well as how art has been used as both a form of protest and a way to control the masses. Questions of race, ethnicity, immigration, gender, and sexuality are therefore important to my work as well. Though I am most interested in 20th-century US history, I also study the 19th century as well as European and Soviet history to examine culture and politics on a transnational scale. Besides traditional historical archives, I also interpret painting, literature, sculpture, film, photography, music, screen printing, etc. and draw on theory and philosophy. My interests are incredibly broad and interdisciplinary, so I’m extra excited to see how you each bring your own flavor to your thinking about the Civil War.

As for my own interest in the Civil War, I have been most intrigued by how new forms of technology and cultural experimentation (warfare and photography) altered American thought and political culture. I have worked a bit with Timothy O’Sullivan’s 1863 Gettysburg photos to think about how the Civil War changed American conceptions of landscape and violence that continued into the 20th century. I have also been intrigued by recent scholarship that situates the Civil War in a period of global revolution and conflict. In my recent graduate class with Prof. Summerhill (who is featured in the lecture videos for this course), we read works that urged us to challenge and reorient our conceptions of the Civil War so I have been thinking about this period quite a bit. I am excited to continue complicating our notions of the Civil War this semester.

In my first year here, I have been a TA for HST 392-History of the Holocaust and IAH 203-Latin America and the World. I’ve found that I absolutely love teaching and working with students, so please don’t be shy about reaching out to say hi or if you run into trouble! My main goals are to foster improvement in both critical historical thinking and writing that can lead you to think in more sophisticated terms about American history and our contemporary atmosphere. I simultaneously hope to support an encouraging online environment for you all to explore ideas and craft exciting projects.

Please always feel free to get in touch and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help make this online course as effective as possible!

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