Summer History & Literature Seminars

Our History & Literature seminars encourage the cross-curricular study of key themes in American history by examining historical documents and literary texts.  Open to both social studies and English/language arts teachers at any level, the seminars will delve into the history and meaning of America through the words of historical figures great and small, as well as through the prose and verse of the nation’s writers. Each seminar will be taught by a historian or political scientist teamed with a literary scholar.

Two History & Literature seminars will be held on the campus of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio in 2022. Room and board are available, as is airport shuttle service between the Ashland University campus and the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Participants may take the seminar for in-service hours or opt to earn graduate credit.

The Value of Studying History and Literature Together: One Teacher’s Story

When Ashbrook announced a new program combining the study of historical and literary texts, Eric Stoner, a graduate of the Master of Arts in American History and Government (MAHG) program, eagerly signed up. During his MAHG work, Stoner had taken a “Great Texts” course that featured both the journalism and fiction of Ernest Hemingway. The course, taught by historian Dan Monroe, had changed the way Stoner teaches the changes in American social life following World War I. His students now read Hemingway’s story “Big Two-Hearted River” to understand the lasting trauma inflicted on veterans of the first truly modern war. Continue reading...


Wives, Mothers, Rebels, Others: Women in American History and Literature

Sunday, July 3 to Friday, July 8, 2022

This course takes seriously Gilda Lerner’s important observation, “Women have always made history as much as men have, not ‘contributed’ to it, only they did not know what they had made and had no tools to interpret their own experience.” We will examine several key points in American history through the works—and words—of the women who made American history and American literature. On the history side, we will explore movements such as Republican motherhood, abolition, suffrage, temperance, civil rights, and intersectionality. On the literature side, we will examine how these historical events are both facilitated and complicated by women’s writing. Our literary readings will show how a range of styles (sentimental fiction, slave narrative, the Gothic tale and the ghost story; political satire; the bildungsroman, or coming of age novel) can both reinforce and undermine the topics they explore, such as domesticity, liberty, marriage, suffrage, education, and economic independence. Literary writers may include Susanna Rowson, Harriet Jacobs, Edith Wharton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anita Loos and Toni Morrison.

Discussion Leaders:

Elizabeth Amato (Gardner-Webb University) and Kathleen Pfeiffer (Oakland University)

Violence in American History and Literature

Sunday, July 10 to Friday, July 16, 2022

Violence has been a constant of American life since the first encounter. From early Native-American captivity narratives, vigilantism to lynching, from agrarian violence to urban riots and labor conflict, the course examines the causes of the mayhem including ethnic and religious hatred as well as race and gender prejudice. Topics are developed and analyzed that receive only cursory treatment in survey courses. Topics may include domestic violence, westerns, revenge, “justified” violence, and the literary depiction of violence. Authors may include William Faulkner, Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Louise Erdrich, Eudora Welty, Audrey Lorde, Stephen Crane, and Herman Melville.

Discussion Leaders:

Suzanne Hunter Brown (Darmouth College) and Dan Monroe (Millikin University)



Graduate Credit (2 semester hours): $1260

Audit (25 contact hours): $680

Room & Board

Double-occupancy air conditioned room and all meals: $475

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