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Lisa (on leave Fall 2021) Blee
Associate Professor

Phone: 336.758.6995
Office: Tribble B-110


Lisa Blee teaches courses in the American West, Native American history, environmental thought, memory, and public history, and is the coordinator for the Cultural Heritage & Preservation Studies Minor. Her research interests include American Indian and settler politics, historical narratives, and commemorations in the U.S. West. She is the author of Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit (University of North Carolina Press, 2019).


B.A.      Lewis and Clark College 2002
Ph.D.    University of Minnesota 2008

Academic Appointments
Wake Forest University. Associate Professor 2015 – present; Assistant Professor 2009 – 2015

Program Coordinator, Cultural Heritage & Preservation Studies Minor (2016-present)

Seattle University.  Adjunct Instructor 2008-2009


  • HST 108 Americas and the World
    Thematically this course focuses on both the macrohistories of economies and societies, and the microhistories of materials and individuals.  Course readings – a combination of scholarly texts, historical documents, autobiographies, and shorter first-person accounts – follow the social, cultural, economic, and political evolutions in North America, South America, and the Caribbean.   Overall, the course content explores the tensions between broad historical trends and individuals’ stories; such an approach leads us to understand the diverse ways in which people viewed their world, their singular and collective power to change it, and the larger structures of power that limited or supported their actions.
  • HST 151: History Museums (1.5 credit / 8-week course)With over 35,000 in the United States, museums play a significant role in shaping public discourse and understandings of American culture and society. Museums are also sites of negotiation, where various ideas about identity, values, truth, and representation clash and find resolution. This course provides students with an introductory overview of museums as institutions, and considers the unique goals of history museums in particular. The course involves several local and regional site visits and will focus on a single theme in order to critique and compare museums’ various approaches to the collection, display, and interpretation of social history.
  • FYS 100 Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought                                                    This course focuses on the way Americans have constructed ideas of nature, attached values to certain  environments, and invested meaning in particular places. We will consider how Americans in the past      and today conceive of divisions between the “natural” and man-made, wilderness and civilization, and material reality and human consciousness. Students will engage in humanistic inquiry concerning humans’ interaction with their environments by looking to our surroundings, historical documents, and     students’ own perceptions and creative potential. This course has a major digital project component –   using a dedicated NeatLine/Omeka platform – which students build throughout the semester. By the end of the semester students will have curated unique exhibits and contributed to a digital map.
  • FYS 100 The American West in Popular Culture
    This course focuses on a set of stories communicated through art, film, text, music, and performance that take the West as their setting or subject.   From their first explorations past the Appalachian Mountains, Americans have expressed their identities, hopes, and anxieties through the West. This course explores the ways in which the West became an important myth and acted as a mirror for American culture. We collectively analyze advertisements, memorials, and artistic creations to consider why specific events, figures, and idioms held such appeal to American audiences in their particular historical moments.  We seek to understand why myths were created, who benefited, and whose experiences were left out. Throughout the course, we garner a greater understanding of the ways in which popular culture both reflected and shaped the stories that Americans told about themselves.
  • HST 254 American West to 1848
    This course is the first half of a two-semester survey course of the North American West, from roughly 1500 to 1850. Topics include indigenous trade and lifeways, contact, conflict, and cooperation between natives and newcomers, exploration and migration, imperial geopolitical rivalries, and various experiences with western landscapes.
  • HST 255 U.S. West from 1848
    This course is the second half of a two-semester survey course of the U.S. West, from 1848 to the present. Topics include industrial expansion and urbanization, conflicts with Native Americans, national and ethnic identity formations, contests over natural resources, representations and myths of the West, and religious, cultural, and social diversity.
  • HST 311 (FA17): Migrants and Refugees in Modern HistoryAs the world faces a refugee crisis of unprecedented magnitude, this course offers students a sustained historical exploration of forced migrations and the concept of refuge. Covering the 17th to 20th centuries and spanning the United States to East Asia, the course features a wide-ranging set of cases across geographic and temporal boundaries. We will track how states, empire, multi-state actors and non-governmental organizations have handled forced migrants, and trace the creation and operation of the modern international refugee regime. We will also play close attention to the lived experiences of individual migrants and refugees. This course is team-taught and designed as a two-semester sequence. The next course in the sequence is HST 367: Public History, offered in Spring 2018, which will allow students to complete a collaborative public history project concerning local refugee resettlement policy and practices.
  • HST 365 Modern Native American History
    This course considers broad historical issues and debates about Native American identity, experiences with and memories of colonialism, cultural preservation and dynamism, and political sovereignty from 1830 to the present. Focuses on individual accounts, tribal case studies, and popular representations of Native people.
  • HST 367 Issues in Public History
    Public History provides an introductory overview of the issues involved in the practice, interpretation, and display of history in public settings. We focus on diverse forms of public history, including community-based research, exhibitions, and oral history. A previous course was structured around a major project developed in collaboration with Project Re-Entry, a program that provides support services to offenders transitioning into their communities after incarceration. Students, working in a team setting with Project Re-entry program directors, academics, and museum professionals, learned applied research skills by conducting interviews with program clients and then designed, wrote, and curated a public exhibition featuring former offenders’ stories and artwork.  The next Public History course (Sp 18) will focus on refugee resettlement in the Piedmont Triad. This course is ideal for students interested in exploring ways community-based research and other applied history skills might build more open and empathetic communities. (Fulfills requirement for Cultural Heritage & Preservation Studies Minor)
  • HST 368 U.S. Environmental History: U.S. environmental history is a study of how peoples in the United States have used, thought about, represented, and been influenced by the natural world. This history course focuses on human actors and actions while also highlighting how the natural world impacted humans and shaped the United States. Major themes include: the relationship between nature and human history broadly; the impact of the non-human environment on American history; the environmental effects of colonization, urbanization, and consumerism; the cultural construction of nature in different eras and its social implications; and the sources and limits of modern environmental politics.
  • HST 370 Topics in NC History
    This class designs an exhibit on a local topic for the New Winston Museum. Throughout the semester, students conduct oral history interviews and conduct research in local archives while working in collaboration with curators at the city’s modern history museum.  By the end of the semester, students will propose an interpretive exhibit based on their research for display at the New Winston Museum. This course will be of particular interest to those who want to know more about local history, oral history, and curating museum exhibits. (Fulfills elective credit for the Cultural Heritage & Preservation Studies Minor)
  • HST 390 Research Seminar: Representation and Memory in U.S. History                                     This course centers on trends in cultural history and public memory in America’s past. As such, this seminar offers an opportunity to think about the intended and unintended impacts of representations of different events, social groups, and identities in 19th – and 20th-century U.S. history. In terms of public memory, we will think about both event and process; how have historians and regular people determined which events or group histories were significant enough to remember, and what should be forgotten. How did different groups record and pass on their perspectives? How do some perspectives come to dominate others, and what are the consequences? Class readings will emphasize representations of race and gender, and focus on the topics of slavery, settler-Indian conflicts, and Jim Crow. Students may choose a case study within these topics or any related case from the nineteenth century through the late twentieth century.
  •  HST 391: Making HistoryIn this course, we look at the way that historians “make” history: how they imagine their object of study; how they organize and curate information to make primary sources accessible and legible; how they choose and use primary sources as evidence for their accounts; how they structure their narratives and analytic discussions; and how they communicate the results of their work to the public. We will approach these questions in two ways: through an investigation of the formal theories that have been applied to historical study, and through the application of these theories to a collaborative archiving/curation/exhibit project with the New Winston Museum. This course is open to all students, but is a requirement for students pursuing Honors in History.

Monographs and Edited Collections

  • Lisa Blee and Jean O’Brien, Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit. University of North Carolina Press, 2019.
  • Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

For a complete list of publications, click CV.

Articles and Essays

  • “Decentering 1620,” in Early American Literature (Special Issue: Reframing 1620, edited by Katharine Grandjean and Sarah Schuetze). With Jean O’Brien (forthcoming 2021).
  • “Making Incarceration Visible: An Adventure in Shared Authority,” in Placing Pedagogy: Bioregional Teaching and Learning in the Southeastern United States, edited by Dave  Aftandilian, Lucas F. Johnston, and Joseph Witt (Routledge Press, 2019).
  • “Seattle’s Leschi: Memory and Urban Indigenous Place Names,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly,  Vol. 107, No. 4 (Fall 2016): 186-196.
  • Co-author with Jean O’Brien, “What’s a Monument to Massasoit Doing in Kansas City? The Memory Work of Monuments and Place in Public Displays of History,” Ethnohistory, Vol. 61, No. 4  (Fall 2014): 635-653.
  • “The Quest for the Legal Enemy: Symbolic Justice during the War on Terror,” Radical History Review, Vol. 113 (Spring 2012):  55-65.
  • “‘I Came Voluntarily to Work, Sing, and Dance’: Stories from the Eskimo Village at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 101, no. 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2010): 126-137.
  • “Mount Rainier Narratives and Indian Economies of Place, 1850-1925,” Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Winter 2009): 419-443.
  • Co-author (with Julie Weiskopf, Jeff Manuel, Andrew Urban, Caley Horan, and Brian Tochterman), “Engaging With Public Engagement: Public History and Graduate Pedagogy,” Radical History Review, Issue 102 (Fall 2008): 72-89.
  • “The 1925 Fort Union Indian Congress: One Event, Multiple Interpretations,” American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Fall 2007): 582-612.
  • “Completing Lewis and Clark’s Westward March: Exhibiting a History of Empire at the 1905 Portland World’s Fair,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Summer 2005): 232-53.

For a complete list of publications, click CV.


“Struggles Over Memory: Indigenous People and Commemorative Culture.” Review essay of David W. Grau, Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (Oxford, 2016) and Andrew Denson, Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest Over Southern Memory (North Carolina, 2017), Reviews in American History (forthcoming Dec. 2018)

Katrina Jagodinsky, Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946 (Yale, 2016), American Historical Review 121: 5 (December 2016): 1665-1666

Christine Dupres, Becoming Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained Its Identity (Washington, 2014), Western Historical Quarterly 46 (Winter 2015).

Gregory Smithers and Brooke Newman, eds. Native Diasporas: Indigenous Identities and Settler Colonialism in the Americas (Nebraska, 2014), Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 116, No. 2 (Summer 2015): 260-264.

“Reviving Death: Circling Back to an American Environmental Tradition.” Review essay of Aaron Sachs, Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition (Yale, 2013), The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Vol. 13, No. 4 (October 2014): 616-619.

Llyn de Danaan, Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay (Nebraska, 2013), Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Autumn 2014): 363-364.

“Indian Resistance as Race War.” Review essay of Richard Kluger, The Bitter Waters of Medicine Creek: A Tragic Clash Between White and Native America (Knopf, 2011), Reviews in American History, Vol. 40, No.2 (June 2012): 254-258.

Gray Whaley, Oregon and the Collapse of the Illahee: U.S. Empire and the Transformation of an Indigenous World (Chapel Hill, 2010), Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No.3 (Autumn 2011): 387-388.

Sydney Stevens, Dear Medora: Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years (Pullman, 2007), Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 99, No. 2 (Spring 2008): 96.

Mary Dodds Schlick, Coming to Stay: A Columbia River Journey (Oregon Historical Society Press, 2006), Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 99, No. 3 (Summer 2008): 136.

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