I’m an Associate Professor of History at the University of Denver and Director of the Center for Art Collection Ethics (ACE). I teach courses in modern European and French history, including the French Revolution, Europe during the World Wars, nineteenth- and twentieth-century France, and seminars on Nazi art looting and the history and memory of World War II.
In my courses and my research, I am particularly interested in cultural and political trends during times of crisis, and how narratives of those crises–crafted by government officials, scholars, and/or intellectuals–develop in the aftermath. My book, Defending National Treasures (Stanford University Press, April 2011), explores French cultural policy during the Nazi occupation of World War II. I examine how the French defined their cultural heritage and implemented new policies to protect museum collections, antiquities and historic sites during the war. I also raise questions that are relevant outside of France and into our own times: how do notions of cultural heritage and national identity reinforce each other? At what point does the noble work of cultural preservation harm individuals’ interests? Check out my “Defending National Treasures Page” on this blog for more information.
My next book project focuses on the French museum administration during the postwar reconstruction period, and its management of art looted by the Nazis from Jewish collectors in France. Around two thousand pieces recovered from Germany were not claimed by victims or their heirs, and the French museum agency began a complicated guardianship that continues today.