Lisa Blee

Lisa Blee



Associate Professor Lisa Blee
Public History, American West and Native American history
B-110 Tribble Hall, 758-6995



BioLisa Blee grew up in Arizona, attended college in Portland, Oregon, and received her PhD at the University of Minnesota. At Wake Forest she teaches courses in the American West, Native American history, environmental thought, and public history. Her research interest is in late nineteenth and twentieth century Pacific Northwest history, specifically concerning Native American politics, law, and commemorations. Her first book is Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice (2014, University of North Carolina Press).

B.A.      Lewis and Clark College 2002
Ph.D.    University of Minnesota 2008

Academic Appointments
Wake Forest University. Associate Professor 2015 – present; Assistant Professor 2009 – 2015
Seattle University.  Adjunct Instructor 2008-2009

Click here for complete CV.


  • Framing Chief Leschi: Narratives and the Politics of Historical Justice. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, March 2014.
  • Co-author with Jean O’Brien, “What’s a Monument to Massasoit Doing in Kansas City? The Memory Work of Monuments and Place in Public Displays of History,” Ethnohistory   (forthcoming Fall 2014).
  • “The Quest for the Legal Enemy: Symbolic Justice during the War on Terror,” Radical History Review, Vol. 113 (Spring 2012):  55-65.
  • “‘I Came Voluntarily to Work, Sing, and Dance’: Stories from the Eskimo Village at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 101, no. 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2010): 126-137.
  • “Mount Rainier Narratives and Indian Economies of Place, 1850-1925,” Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Winter 2009): 419-443.
  • Co-author (with Julie Weiskopf, Jeff Manuel, Andrew Urban, Caley Horan, and Brian Tochterman), “Engaging With Public Engagement: Public History and Graduate Pedagogy,” Radical History Review, Issue 102 (Fall 2008): 72-89.
  • “The 1925 Fort Union Indian Congress: One Event, Multiple Interpretations,” American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Fall 2007): 582-612.
  • “Completing Lewis and Clark’s Westward March: Exhibiting a History of Empire at the 1905 Portland World’s Fair,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Summer 2005): 232-53.

For a complete list of publications, click CV


  • HST 108 Americas and the World
    Thematically this course focuses on both the macrohistories of economies and societies, and the microhistories of materials and individuals.  Course readings – a combination of scholarly texts, historical documents, autobiographies, and shorter first-person accounts – follow the social, cultural, economic, and political evolutions in North America, South America, and the Caribbean.   Overall, the course content explores the tensions between broad historical trends and individuals’ stories; such an approach leads us to understand the diverse ways in which people viewed their world, their singular and collective power to change it, and the larger structures of power that limited or supported their actions.
  • FYS 100 Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought                                                    This course focuses on the way Americans have constructed ideas of nature, attached values to certain  environments, and invested meaning in particular places. We will consider how Americans in the past      and today conceive of divisions between the “natural” and man-made, wilderness and civilization, and material reality and human consciousness. Students will engage in humanistic inquiry concerning humans’ interaction with their environments by looking to our surroundings, historical documents, and     students’ own perceptions and creative potential. This course has a major digital project component –   using a dedicated NeatLine/Omeka platform – which students build throughout the semester. By the end of the semester students will have curated unique exhibits and contributed to a digital map.
  • FYS 100 The American West in Popular Culture
    This course focuses on a set of stories communicated through art, film, text, music, and performance that take the West as their setting or subject.   From their first explorations past the Appalachian Mountains, Americans have expressed their identities, hopes, and anxieties through the West. This course explores the ways in which the West became an important myth and acted as a mirror for American culture. We collectively analyze advertisements, memorials, and artistic creations to consider why specific events, figures, and idioms held such appeal to American audiences in their particular historical moments.  We seek to understand why myths were created, who benefited, and whose experiences were left out. Throughout the course, we garner a greater understanding of the ways in which popular culture both reflected and shaped the stories that Americans told about themselves.
  • HST 254 American West to 1850
    This course is the first half of a two-semester survey course of the North American West, from roughly 1500 to 1850. Topics include indigenous trade and lifeways, contact, conflict, and cooperation between natives and newcomers, exploration and migration, imperial geopolitical rivalries, and various experiences with western landscapes.
  • HST 255 U.S. West from 1850
    This course is the second half of a two-semester survey course of the U.S. West, from 1848 to the present. Topics include industrial expansion and urbanization, conflicts with Native Americans, national and ethnic identity formations, contests over natural resources, representations and myths of the West, and religious, cultural, and social diversity.
  • HST 365 Modern Native American History
    This course considers broad historical issues and debates about Native American identity, experiences with and memories of colonialism, cultural preservation and dynamism, and political sovereignty from 1830 to the present. Focuses on individual accounts, tribal case studies, and popular representations of Native people.
  • HST 367 Issues in Public History
    Public History provides an introductory overview of the issues involved in the practice, interpretation, and display of history in public settings. We focus on diverse forms of public history, including community-based research, exhibitions, and oral history. This course is structured around a major project developed in collaboration with Project Re-Entry, a program that provides support services to offenders transitioning into their communities after incarceration. Students, working in a team setting with Project Re-entry program directors, academics, and museum professionals, will learn applied research skills by conducting interviews with program clients and then designing, writing, and curating a public exhibition featuring former offenders’ stories and artwork. This course is ideal for students interested in exploring the way in which local communities, families, and individuals have been impacted by incarceration over time. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to experience the ways community-based research and other applied history skills might shift public perception of former offenders and help to create more empathetic and safe communities.
  • HST 370 Topics in NC History
    This class will research and write Winston-Salem’s musical history and propose an exhibit on the topic for the New Winston Museum. Throughout the semester, students will conduct original research and oral history interviews with musicians and local venue owners while working in collaboration with curators at the city’s modern history museum. Students will consider how music brings people together (or does not) and how it has shaped this community over time. By the end of the semester, students will propose an interpretive exhibit based on their research for display at the New Winston Museum during the summer of 2016. This course will be of particular interest to those who want to know more about local history, music and performance, oral history, and curating museum exhibits.
  • HST 390 Research Seminar: Representation and Memory in U.S. History                                     This course centers on trends in cultural history and public memory in America’s past. As such, this seminar offers an opportunity to think about the intended and unintended impacts of representations of different events, social groups, and identities in 19th – and 20th-century U.S. history. In terms of public memory, we will think about both event and process; how have historians and regular people determined which events or group histories were significant enough to remember, and what should be forgotten. How did different groups record and pass on their perspectives? How do some perspectives come to dominate others, and what are the consequences? Class readings will emphasize representations of race and gender, and focus on the topics of slavery, settler-Indian conflicts, and Jim Crow. Students may choose a case study within these topics or any related case from the nineteenth century through the late twentieth century.