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Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska Associate Professor History

PhD, American Studies, Brown University
AM, Public Humanities, Brown University
MA, Communication, Culture & Technology, Georgetown University
BA, History and Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University

I am an interdisciplinary cultural historian of the 19th and 20th century US. My research interests include public history, museum studies, historiography, visual and material culture, communications and media history, and critical theory. I'm the author of History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s (2017, University of North Carolina Press), which traces the emergence of immersive engagement with the past in postwar American culture. I'm currently a 2023-4 Scholar-In-Residence at the Heurich House Museum, and a Project Fellow at the Humanities Truck.

I was born in Wroclaw, Poland but grew up here in D.C.--a fun fact is that when I was in high school in the 90s, my friends and I would go study at the AU library and try to make people think we were college students! I and am active in D.C.’s local history community. My students and I have collaborated with numerous history and humanities organizations in the area. I serve on the editorial board of Washington History magazine, and on the planning committees of the D.C. History Conference and the Humanities Truck. My other public history activities include appointments to the Conference Committee of the annual Public History Summer School at the University of Wroclaw, Poland, and as editor of the 2021-2025 American Revolution 250th Commemoration Scholars' Forums, co-convened by the National Council on Public History and the National Park Service. In addition I also serve on the board of Humanities DC, and consult with organizations that are planning for the 2026 Semiquincentennial commemoration.

I'm currently working on two new research projects: one about time capsules in the U.S. and the problem of form in historical analysis, and the other, tentatively entitled, Coming to Washington: Appointees, Activists, Tourists, and Militia in the Capital: A History--I'm also planning public programming and opportunities for student collaborations around this project.

My work has been published or is forthcoming in The Public Historian, A.S.A.P/J, Washington History, Journal of Popular Film & Television, and Film & History. I've also appeared in the Washington Post, and as a commentator on Netflix's "D.B. Cooper, Where Are You?" documentary. My work has been written about in the Post, the New York Times, and Time Magazine.

I have previously taught in the Department of American Studies at Brown University and the Graduate Program in Historical Administration at Eastern Illinois University. At AU, I teach courses on 19th and 20th century U.S. history, public history, museums, and historiography.

In my spare time I enjoy biking, vintage shopping, looking for new vegetarian restaurants, and road trips.
See Also
Department of History
For the Media
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Spring 2024

  • HIST-328 Introduction to Public History

  • HIST-468 Topics in Public History: Wash DC History Seminar