Anne M. Boylan is an emeritus professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Delaware, where she taught and did research on women's history, social history, and historical memory. The author of Votes for Delaware Women (2021), Women's Rights in the United States: A History in Documents (2015), The Origins of Women's Activism: New York and Boston, 1797-1840 (2002), and Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution (1988), she is currently working on two projects: biographical profiles of Delaware's women suffrage leaders; and an article on popular presentations of women's history in the 1930s and 1940s. She has worked extensively with teachers of grades 3-12 through federal Teaching American History grants.
Students coming into our classes bring with them assorted chunks of historical and legal knowledge, gleaned mostly from movies and TV. (Ask any student to recite the "perp's" Miranda rights, and most will be able to do so verbatim because they have seen so many crime shows.) At the same time, we historians regularly tear our hair over students' ignorance of basic historical facts. The lecture starts from the premise that we do our students a disservice if we either ignore their prior knowledge or waste energy attempting to correct misinformation. It argues that we should engage with what they "know," in order to teach them how to discern and critically analyze the historical interpretations they encounter in popular media.