History Faculty — Dr. Ryan Alexander

Assistant Professor

Ryan AlexanderMy first foray into Latin America occurred during a study abroad semester in Cuba. The island, a place that generates so much controversy, was full of surprises. My time there widened my perspective and opened my eyes to the overwhelming complexity of issues that often seem simple and one-sided. I try to provide my students with a forum for similar types of intellectual discovery. In graduate school, I moved to studying Mexico, a country that has a rich history and remains vitally important to U.S. culture and political discourse today. My biggest goal as a teacher is to provide my students something useful to their intellectual development. While anyone can memorize names and dates, I believe that history can do much more when students engage it fully. I want my classes to spark students’ curiosity and make them more critical thinkers and better communicators.

My research interests are eclectic. All of my past and current projects revolve around biographical subjects, ranging from powerful politicians to circus performers to revolutionary intellectuals to chess grandmasters to maverick bureaucrats. What these very different individuals all have in common is that each can provide a portal on a given historical context. Starting with such interesting personalities makes researching and writing history fun, and ultimately their lives unlock some of the big questions that historians confront.

Education

  • Ph.D. University of Arizona, Latin American History (2011).
  • M.A. University of Arizona, Latin American History (2007).
  • B.A. Willamette University, History (2005).

Teaching Areas

  • Colonial and Modern Latin America.
  • Comparative Latin American Revolutions and Social Movements.
  • Mexico.
  • Comparative Atlantic Slavery.

Research Areas

  • The Mexican Revolution.
  • Latin American Political History.
  • U.S.–Latin American Relations.
  • Popular Culture.

Recent Publications:

  • “Mexico’s ‘Misnomered Bear Woman’: Science and Spectacle in the Sideshows of Nineteenth-Century Europe,” The Journal of Popular Culture (Spring, 2012).
  • “Backwater Bureaucrat to Revolutionary Myth-Maker: Bernardo M. de León and Cultural Politics in Nayarit, Mexico, 1920-1990,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos (Winter, 2011).

Contact Ryan Alexander

Office: Champlain Valley Hall, 222
Phone: (518) 564-5291
Email: ralex006@plattsburgh.edu