Dr. Judith A. Miller and Student Natalia Thomas Describe “Fake News” Course on GPB’s ‘On Second Thought’

Dr. Judith A. Miller and first-year student Natalia Thomas were recently interviewed on the Georgia Public Broadcasting show On Second Thought about Miller’s first-year seminar “Fake News.” Speaking to host Virginia Prescott, Miller describes how, as a historian of 18th and 19th century France, she ended up teaching a course with a substantial focus on contemporary U.S. history. Thomas, a first-year student in the course, describes the impact “Fake News” has already had on students: “‘I used to just take what I read at face value,” she explained. “I’ve learned to be more cautious about what I’m consuming, and make sure to check multiple news sources and see what they’re saying about certain issues.”‘ Read the article summary of the conversation and listen to the full interview: “Emory University’s ‘Fake News’ Course Helps Students Tease Fact From Fiction.”

Judith A. Miller and Students Investigate “Fake News” in First Year Seminar


Student Jeffrey Gao and associate professor of history Judith Miller. From Emory Photo/Video. 

Associate Professor Judith A. Miller is teaching a first-year seminar this spring titled “Fake News.” The Emory News Center’s Maureen McGavin describes the class as investigating “examples of fake news, conspiracy theories, hoaxes, biased stories and wrongful convictions, in the U.S. and in other countries, as well as discussions of how the falsehoods took hold and were eventually debunked.” Read the Emory News Center’s profile of the course, “‘Fake News’ class helps students learn to research and identify false information,” in addition to the full course description below.

“Fake news, hoaxes, “truthiness,” lies, spin rooms, bots, leaks, deniers, and propaganda: These phenomena have shaken the world in the recent years. Fake news has become important part of our daily political culture, whether in the United States or elsewhere around the globe. Elections and public policy have been influenced by them. Our course will delve into several historical cases of hoaxes, history “deniers,” and media exploitation before turning to the recent past and even daily events in the US and elsewhere. What dynamics do those examples reveal that can illuminate the contemporary world? Then we will explore the place of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as darker parts of the web, in purveying both accurate and false information. For instance, how do “fake news” authors use language, music, and images to make their ideas more persuasive? How has technology increased the power of “fake news”? Why have certain kinds of societies been more or less vulnerable to propaganda? How have courts understood the principles of “free expression,” “burden of proof,” and a “free press”? How have politicians and journalists contributed to and struggled with the recent intensifying “fake news” phenomenon? We will work closely with Woodruff librarians as we evaluate evidence: How do historians weigh claims and sources? Are there even clear red flags in our media-saturated world? How can historical examples help us sort out these questions? Each student will develop a case study of an incident–understood broadly, anything from political propaganda anywhere in the world, to allegations of wrongful conviction or sexual assault, to history deniers, as just a few examples–that takes up these issues.”

At the Crossroads of Nursing and the Humanities: Dr. Kylie M. Smith Teaches HIST 190, “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration”

Dr. Kylie M. Smith is Assistant Professor and the Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities. In the spring of 2019, Smith taught a freshman seminar in History entitled “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration.” The Emory School of Nursing just published an insightful profile of Smith’s research and teaching: “A Different Set of Tools: Using the humanities to understand nursing’s role in social justice.” Read the full profile and see the description of the course below.

History 190: “Madness in America: A History from Lunancy to Mass Incarceration”

In this course we will explore the history of approaches to mental illness in the US, and consider the impact of this history for current issues in mental health. Topic areas include the culture of asylums, slavery and psychiatry, changing definitions and treatment practices, depictions of madness in popular culture, Civil Rights and patient rights, and trauma, war and the role of psychiatry in social control. We will visit the archives to explore journalist’s exposes and medical records as we attempt to uncover hidden histories of shame and stigma. We will seek to understand the experience and construction of “the patient” through the intersection of culture, politics and law, and ask critical questions about the nature of mental illness itself. Our goal in this course is to understand how historical attitudes shaped the development of policy and services, and how this impacts those with mental illness today. In this process we will explore the ethics of confinement of the mentally ill and analyze the troubled relationship between mental illness and criminality.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Associated Faculty in History, Receives Cuttino Award for Distinguished Mentoring

Congratulations to Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, for receiving the George P. Cuttino Award for Distinguished Mentoring. The award is named in honor of the late George Peddy Cuttino, a member of Emory’s History Department from 1952 to 1984. Read more about Lipstadt’s distinguished record as a mentor and scholar here: “Cuttino Award honors historian Deborah Lipstadt for mentoring excellence.”

‘HowStuffWorks’ Features Crespino’s ‘History 385: Right-Wing America’

This spring Jimmy Carter Professor of History and Department Chair Joseph Crespino is teaching a 385 course titled “Right-Wing America.” HowStuffWorks contributing writer John Donovan recently featured Crespino’s course in the article “Bridging the Chasm: Emory Class Delves Into America’s Right-wing History.” HowStuffWorks editorial board describes the website as a “source for unbiased, reliable, easy-to-understand answers and explanations of how the world actually works.” Read the full article here and check out Donovan’s observations from the first day of the spring course below.

“‘Donald Trump really defied what we thought we knew about American politics,’ Crespino tells his class that first day. ‘Trump’s election not only kind of upended what we thought were these iron laws of American politics’ — mainly, that candidates have to run toward the center to get elected — ‘but it also makes the American past look a lot different, you know? Things that we used to take for granted as kind of hiccups along the way all of a sudden look more important. And they look more ominous. And we begin to see that they weren’t just hiccups, but they’re kind of a recurring pattern.’

That pattern is what interests scholars. It’s what Crespino hopes his students will grasp, too; that the ideas and beliefs that drive right-wing America today didn’t begin with Trump. And they won’t disappear when he does, either.”

Patrick Allitt on Teaching in ‘The Chronicle of Higher Education’

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education featured Cahoon Family Professor of American History Patrick Allitt. The piece, “The Best and Worst Part of Being a Professor: Students” (by Audrey Williams June), surveys how professors view teaching responsibilities and interactions with students. Allitt is quoted as saying that “Teaching is really the best part of my job” – a sentiment that seems representative of broad satisfaction among professors with the teaching element of the job. Allitt is the author of I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).

Read the full article here and see the brief excerpt below.

When students fall short of his expectations, Allitt says, his teaching experience gives him the perspective he needs to deal with it. Two things haven’t changed, he says, since he started teaching as a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. There will always be students who won’t do the reading. To deal with that, Allitt calls on every student in class during discussions. And most students don’t write as well as he would like. (He blames schools that rely on multiple-choice exams much more than did the schools in his native England, where he wrote in school every day.)

Alumni Update: Fulbright ETA Andrew Shifren (’17 College) Teaches English in Indonesia

The Emory History Department welcomes updates from alumni. Below, 2017 graduate Andrew Shifren describes his recent arrival in Indonesia on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.


I’ve now spent about a week in my placement, Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, where I will be living for the next 10 months. So far Indonesia has defied many of my expectations. It is isolating, but also incredibly eye-opening and motivates me to learn the language (Bahasa Indonesia) like nothing else could.  My town is the launching point for tours of the Komodo Islands and the surrounding coral reefs. In my free time I hope to snorkel and dive. The politics and history of Komodo National Park is fascinating and something I hope to learn more about. The teaching is going to be difficult, but I am looking forward to it. I teach eight 35-person classrooms per week with very little organizational help from the school. Most of the students hope to secure the well-paying tourism jobs that are popping up as hotels are built in the town and more and more tourist come to tour the Komodos; English is really the key to their futures.