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Portfolio of J.T. Carroll

Assistant Director of WKU Online


Teaching-Oriented Academic

Community-Engaging Historian

 I am an extensively trained historian with graduate degrees in American, European, and Russian history and specializations in Cultural and Intellectual History, Diplomatic History, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. In my view, this makes me a Transnational Cultural Historian. My research typically interrogates the relationship between culture and politics, and I'm particularly fascinated by the flow of culture and ideas across political borders and geographic barriers.

I completed my Ph.D. in History at Northwestern University, but I have logged more than a decade of instruction time in American, European, and Global history courses at public and private institutions throughout the Midwest and Upper South.


In my courses, I  encourage students to critically engage with historical thought as well as experience history through primary sources and cultural artifacts. Fortunately, most students have found themselves enriched by the content I offer and leave my courses with a well-developed historical skill-set that is useful in other courses. 


Beyond the classroom, I am involved in public history projects in Kentucky and Tennessee where I have worked with local governments regarding preservation while actively recovering and documenting the histories of underrepresented peoples and deeply interested in the practices and methods of Digital History. 

I am proud to currently serve as the Assistant Director of WKU Online within the Center for Innovation of Teaching and Learning at Western Kentucky University! This position enables me to closely follow changes in federal policies pertaining to higher education while exploring innovative new technologies and practices that enrich the learning experiences of our students. 


My Perspective

Educate through Experience

I approach history from a different perspective than many historians you may encounter. As a cultural historian, I strive to introduce my students to the broad currents of history by using cultural texts and the experiences of minorities to confirm or critique the chronological march expected in most history survey courses.


My goal is that students interact with the past from the present rather than just passively learn facts. In my university courses and discussion sections, students access the past through various activities like listening to music, examining artwork, reading short stories or novels, and watching films or performances. By exploring the relationship between politics, society, and culture, it is possible for students to develop a deeper knowledge of the past that better reveals the fullness, diversity, and complexity of the human experience. 


Regardless of whether students are fulfilling general education requirements or are history majors, I am deeply committed to working with them to build the skill-set needed to succeed in history courses by practicing source interpretation, introducing and exploring key historiographical controversies, and intensely focusing on their writing and argumentation skills. History survey courses are a department’s broadest outreach to the wider campus community, and if the department wants to increase interest in history and boost course enrollments then these foundational classes must be taught in a way that encourages students to truly engage the past.


My passion for working with students has been a major feature of my evaluations, and I greatly enjoy getting to know and interacting with them as each course progresses.



My broad geographic training and transnational approach enable me to teach survey courses in American, European, and World or Global history. I can also offer more concentrated courses on American, British, and Russian history. I greatly enjoy teaching more narrowly focused courses on cultural history and gender and sexuality too.

Research Interests


Transnational Cultural Exchanges in the Late 19th & Early 20th Centuries


Cold War Rivalries in Dance and Sports 

The Rise of Historic Preservation & Russian Origins of UNESCO


The Writings and Artwork of Institutionalized People


For more detailed information on my research click below.

Public History Projects

Exploring the Local. Linking the Global.


Globalizing the Black Patch Tobacco Wars

At the turn of the 20th Century, tobacco farmers in Western Kentucky and Central Tennessee waged a fierce guerrilla war against the Duke tobacco monopoly, which was expanding globally and encountering resistance in China during the same period. This ongoing project explores the links between the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Black Patch Tobacco Wars that garnered national attention here in the states. I am especially interested in the shared fiery rhetoric of encroachment on the local way of life by outside forces.

Preserving a Periwinkle-Covered Past

Race relations during the Black Patch Tobacco Wars were incredibly complex. Night Riders in Lyon County, KY split into 2 camps: a racially-integrated group of farmers concerned with the economic impact of Duke's tobacco monopoly on their lives versus a smaller faction of Shirt-Tail Night Riders who committed racial violence. The internment of Kentucky Lake in the 1960s covered the site of their worst atrocity, but in the past few years volunteers have searched periwinkle-covered land for the homesites and lost cemetery of black Lyon Countians who were violently forced from their homes between 1908-1912. This small farming community near Eddy Creek was a rare example of racial integration after the Civil War, and these descendants of the original freed slaves and Union Army Veterans banded together to preserve their livelihood against the Duke family while coming under attack by their racist counterparts--the Shirt-Tail Night Riders.


Feel free to reach out for more information on these projects.

History Starts Now Blog

Engage the Present. Preserve the Past.

The blog is currently on hiatus, but you can check out a few older blog posts below.

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