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Erik Christiansen

photo of Erik Christiansen Craig-Lee Hall (460)
(401) 456-8039

Academic Background

B.A., University of Miami (Florida)
M.A., Ph.D., University of Maryland

Courses Taught

HIST 107 Multiple Voices: The United States in the World

HIST 201 U.S. History to 1877

HIST 202 U.S. History from 1877 to the Present

HIST 324 America 1914-1945
Between the two world wars the United States underwent jarring and lasting transformation. Often the new changes clashed violently with tradition and the period is characterized by confrontations between forces of modernity and of reaction, in the realms of culture and politics. Wars and severe economic depression had tremendous impact on American society, and the seismic shifts of the twenties and thirties continue to affect us today. This course begins with the birth of modernism in the arts just before World War I, and uses American cultural forms from the period to investigate broader changes in the U.S. through the end of World War II.

HIST 325 America since 1945
As the United States’ position in the world fundamentally changed after World War II, the Cold War stressed social and political institutions to their breaking point. Following the necessary upheavals of the early Civil Rights Movement, the 1960s ushered in an even greater revolution, which was followed by the rise of modern conservatism in the 1970s and the end of the Cold War at the close of the 1980s. This course examines the cultural, political, social, and economic changes that occurred in each of these decades, from the dawn of the age of television to the age of the internet.

HIST 357 Introduction to Public History
This course is open to everyone (not only public history students) and is highly recommended to anyone interested in thinking about or working on history outside of the classroom. Through a class project, readings, field trips, and seminar discussions, the course explores how applied history plays an important role in our political and social life, but also serves particular interests that create a past to suit their purposes (which may or may not be in the public interest).

HIST 350 Special Topics: American History on Film
This course explores movies as a primary source of information about twentieth century American history. The class meets once a week, to allow time for viewing films. Students also watch on their own, and the assigned readings help to contextualize the films and offer guidance to make students more comfortable analyzing non-textual primary sources (such as motion pictures).

First Year Seminar: Hijacking History: The Political Uses of the Past

First Year Seminar: American Fear

First Year Seminar: Tales from the Crypt: The North Burial Ground Project


My interest in American cultural history has led me to explore a variety of time periods and subjects, from 19th century minstrelsy to 1980s television. My book, Channeling the Past: Politicizing History in Postwar America, examined the relationships between the Cold War, capitalism, and the cultural forms through which Americans learned about the past. I am currently working on a project that seeks to explain how the political, economic, and cultural situation in the 1930s led to the golden age of American classical music in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as a history of the first U.S. refugee law.

Public History

As the Public History Program Coordinator, I oversee the undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, and BA programs in public history at RIC. The program emphasizes experiential learning through internship work at historical sites and museums around the region. The program is closely affiliated with RIC’s ongoing North Burial Ground Project.​

Page last updated: October 09, 2019