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Skidmore College
American Studies Department

Gregory M. Pfitzer


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Pfitzer grew up in various midwestern towns, primarily on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies and History. He earned a M.A. degree in History and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard. After brief teaching stints at Colby and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, he arrived on the Skidmore campus in 1989 and is in his 25th year of service to the college.

Pfitzer is the former chair of the American Studies department and teaches a wide variety of courses, including AM 103: The Civil War in American Memory; AM 201: American Identities: Pre-1870s, AM 221: Methods and Approaches in American Studies; AM 241: Mark Twain's America; AM 250A: Hudson River Culture, AM 360C: The 1960s, and AM 374: Senior Seminar.  In 2004, Pfitzer was honored with Skidmore's Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2014 he delivered the Edwin Moseley Lecture recognizing achievement in scholarship.

Pfitzer's primary intellectual interest is popular historical writing. He has written four books on the subject, including Samuel Eliot Morison's Historical World (Northeastern University Press, 1991); Picturing the Past: Illustrated Histories and the American Historical Imagination, 1840-1920 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002); and Popular History and the Literary Marketplace, 1840-1920 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008); and History Repeating Itself: The Republication Phenomenon in Children's Historical Literature and the Christian Right (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014).

Pfitzer has published a number of journal articles on literary figures Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Henry James, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., and Mark Twain as well as on the painter Winslow Homer. He is also the author of a piece on science fiction literature entitled "The Only Good Alien is a Dead Alien: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating on the High Frontier."  More recently, he collaborated on an online exhibit, CLIO: Visualizing History, about the production histories of two mid-nineteenth century pictorial history projects.

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