To learn more about my research, visit http://jeffreyhjackson.blogspot.com/.
To read more about my new book Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910, visit http://www.parisunderwater.com/.
I teach a wide range of courses in European history and in the history of Western culture, including ones that encourage students to look for the connections between different countries and societies. I believe that no part of human experience is off-limits for the historian’s study. Therefore, I try to bring an array of stories, documents, and resources to my classroom in order to give students a deep sense of what it was like for people to live at a particular moment in time, including music, literature, film, art, and other kinds of sources. As a result, I encourage my students to get outside their own heads and into the minds of other people who lived in the past.
My courses often include surveys of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, the comparative history of Fascism and Nazism, Europe since 1945, historical methodology, and history of natural disasters. I have also taught about the history of Paris.
In my first book, called Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (Duke University Press, 2003), I studied the reception of jazz music in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. I wanted to understand what Parisian listeners thought about jazz when they heard it and what it meant to them at a critical moment in their history, just after World War I. I found that the reactions of audiences were quite mixed. Some people praised the music as the sound of the modern age, but others feared that it would cause their culture to disintegrate. Many people understood it as either the beginning of "Americanization" and the arrival of the machine society, or as “black music” that would cause France to revert to a primitive and savage society. In the end, however, audiences, music critics, and French musicians themselves changed the way in which Parisians thought about this music. They turned it from something strange, foreign, and exotic into a sound that was pleasing and exciting: they “made jazz French.”
My second book, titled Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), tells the largely forgotten story of one of the city’s greatest disasters.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Parisians believed they lived in the greatest city in the world. But Paris came to a halt in January 1910 when the river that provided much of the city’s life quickly became an instrument of destruction. Following weeks of torrential rainfall, the Seine overflowed its banks flooding thousands of homes and sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for safety and higher ground. This most modern of cities seemed to have lost its battle with the elements.
But in the midst of the disaster, despite decades of political division, scandal, and deep tensions between social classes, Parisians rallied to help one another and rebuild. Leaders and people answered the call to action in the city’s hour of need. This newfound ability to work together proved crucial just four years later when France was plunged into the depths of World War I. What emerged from the waters, and from the war, was the Paris we know today.
Strolls along the beautiful banks of the Seine will never be the same after seeing city’s devastation and endurance. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the story of Paris coming from the flood waters stronger than ever provides a powerful tale of hope for cities and people rebuilding their lives in the wake of nature’s fury.
I have lived in the north and the south: from Nashville to Boston to Rochester, NY, and now to Memphis. My travels have taken me across the US and Canada and to England, Italy, Spain, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and of course to France many times. I began learning French in the first grade, so it seems only natural that I would come to study a place with which I have such a long history with the language and culture. For fun, I enjoy travel, reading The New Yorker, and watching trashy reality TV.
Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1999
B.S., Vanderbilt University, 1993
First Year Writing Seminar 151– Coffeeshops, Cafes, and Public Places
History 105 – Introductory Seminar: Americans in Paris
History 216 – Industrialism, Nationalism, and Imperialism: Europe, 1815-1914
History 217 – The Age of Extremes: European Culture and Society in the 20th Century
History 300 – The Historian′s Craft: Methods and Approaches in the Study of History
History 305 – Natural Disasters
History 428 – Fascist Europe, 1918-1945
History 429 – Europe Since 1945
History 485 – Senior Seminar
Humanities 201 – Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion