American history professor completes residency in China

Amy Greenberg, George Winfree Professor of American History and Women’s Studies at Penn State, conducted a week-long seminar, June 17–21, 2019, at Fujian Normal University in China, on the history of early U.S. diplomacy. Pictured here in a group photo of seminar attendees, Greenberg is in the front row, 4th from left. Credit: Amy GreenbergAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Amy S. Greenberg, George Winfree Professor of American History and Women’s Studies at Penn State, recently conducted a week-long seminar on the history of early U.S. diplomacy at Fujian Normal University (FNU) in China. She was one of only three U.S. historians selected to participate in the 2019 residency program sponsored by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and the American History Research Association of China with support from the Ford Foundation.

OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of history practitioners. Funding from the Ford Foundation enabled faculty and graduate students from other Chinese universities to attend the seminar on “The American Early Diplomatic History in a Global Perspective” at FNU.

“Fujian Normal is very similar to Penn State University Park, with roughly the same overall student enrollment,” Greenberg said. “But the professors there are under a greater amount of stress, because they have more students to teach without any assistance provided or even available to them.”

Greenberg gave five lectures during the seminar, which was held June 17–21. With titles such as “Can a ‘Weak’ State Pursue a Strong Foreign Policy” and “Was the United States a Settler Colony,” each lecture focused on a key theme animating current historiography of U.S. international relations and foreign encounters before 1900. The lectures were followed by discussions of selected readings including Greenberg’s book, “Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion: A Brief History with Documents.”

While visiting China, Greenberg also gave a talk about her most recent book, “Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk,” at Shanghai Normal University, and lectured about urban history at Xiamen University.

“I hope to be a more effective teacher to the non-native English speaking Penn State students, having gained this outside experience from the China residency,” said Greenberg, adding that she focused on adjusting her approach to make sure participants understood what she was trying to convey. “I learned how incredibly useful it is, for example, to incorporate text in PowerPoint presentations when speaking to an audience that isn’t fluent in English.”

“It’s very exciting to see one of the department’s most prominent historians being recognized in this way by her professional organization, and even more exciting that an audience in China received a wholly new perspective on the development of U.S. diplomacy over time,” said Michael Kulikowski, head of the Penn State Department of History and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor. “I think that the new pedagogical insights she (Greenberg) got from speaking to a culturally diverse audience will translate into dynamic new lectures for our own students at University Park.”

While visiting China, Amy Greenberg also gave the lecture, "The Rise and Fall of the Urban Volunteer Fire Company," to faculty and students at Xiamen University.  Credit: Amy GreenbergAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated September 03, 2020