PhD, History, Florida International University (2016)
Bachelors of History, Belmont University (2010)
Here at Adelphi I teach courses on the history of Latin America and the Caribbean. On occasion, I also get to teach courses on world history and on the Latinx experience in the US.
My goal is to help students recognize the relevance of the study of history. In some cases, that means I encourage students to make connections with important issues in the world today. More frequently, however, it means that we work to understand the past on its own terms so that we are better informed and equipped to engage the serious structural and social challenges facing us today.
In addition to teaching, I work hard on three other fronts. First, I push to get students plugged in to fulfilling careers where they can be involved in making structural change. Second, I am writing a book about the politics of public performance, specifically looking at the way that political leaders in 1930s Brazil tried to use concerts for psychosocial engineering and to create a new definition of nationalism based, not on ideals, but on repeated emotional states. See the button on "Research Interests" for more about this. Third, I am a musician, so every day I study and practice on my 7 string nylon guitar.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Seminar In The Humanities: The Caribbean
Latin America I
Latin America II
S/T: Latin America I
Seminar In The Humanities: Latin America I
Senior Seminar: Latin American History
The History Of Modern Brazil: From Artists To Activists
World Civilizations I I
My classroom interventions are designed to get students to understand the intense relevance of history. The aim is to raise up the next generation of scholars, by which I mean students committed to a lifelong pursuit of understanding themselves and their world. Latin America is every day more tightly woven into the US experience, meaning that studying the region provides students cultural awareness of home as much as abroad.
Over the past five years I have developed a suite of projects I call #ResearchMedia. The goal is make creative--and sometimes subversive--interventions in social media so that the advertising is minimized and the critical thinking expanded. Imagine: a twitter account where students intentionally have 0 followers. This is the beginning of the Twitt@rchive. Or envision an Instagram project where you are not allowed to snap a photo until after you find a political #hashtag at work around you. This is the Histagram. Such interventions get students working with history beyond the walls of the classroom. More significantly, they transform student interactions with social media and with their communities.
I have spent the last decade examining cultural production in Latin America: architectural plans, newspapers, literature, photographs, paintings. But more than anything, I listen to music. As a researcher, I am specifically interested in the forms that art takes and the experiences they curate. ¿How does the shape of a building change how we feel when inside it? ¿How does a verse/chorus format influence which lyrics we perceive to tell the greatest truths? ¿How does artwork shape who people believe they are? For me, the most fascinating object of study for such questions is a symphony. So for the past few years, I have been doing that as I have put together a manuscript for my first book, Composing Brazil.
In Composing Brazil, I track a series of artists and composers in 1930s Rio and São Paulo that teamed up with local ethnographers and psychologists. Together they formed a generation of social reformers committed to using music in an ambitious nationalist project aimed at speeding up "cultural evolution" of what they believed to be the nation's collective psychology. The book project uses archival documents, ethnographic recordings, and symphony manuscripts to show that Brazilian concert music in the 1930s was backed by a scientific framework. The composers believed that their symphonies would induce mental development and create experiences that could be qualified as scientifically Brazilian.
I have a couple of hopes for the book project. One is that it will help people understand the history of Brazil's commitment to the arts. Another is that the people reading it--especially those that really, really "feel" that they are American--or Brazilian, or whatever--will learn how such feelings are a result of generations of conditioning to songs and rituals, many of which have been curated specifically to make nationality feel real. That, I hope, will help people take nationalism less seriously, making it easier for them to accept people of all geographic and ethnic backgrounds. And at the same time, maybe it can help people take music a bit more seriously, recognizing that it is not just an art form. It is--and has long been--recognized as a powerful tool for social engineering.
Micah Oelze, “#HashtagPedagogies: Improving Literacy and Course Relevance through Social Media Metaphors.” Change, The Magazine of Higher Learning. Volume 52, Winter, 2019.
Micah Oelze, “Demolishing Legitimacy: Bogotá’s Urban Reforms for the 1948 Pan-American Conference.” Journal of Latin American Studies, 49, 1 (February 2017): 83-113.
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