Dr. Caroline Collins, who recently defended her dissertation in May, was invited by the La Jolla Playhouse in September to serve as a guest speaker for their Discovery Sunday series.
Given her scholarship regarding narratives of the American West, Dr. Collins was invited to engage audience members during a moderated post-performance discussion of the critically acclaimed world-premiere of Keith Bunin’s The Coast Starlight. The play, which features six characters re-inventing themselves as they journey within a train car on Amtrak’s (Pacific) Coast Starlight route, allowed Dr. Collins to discuss what she calls the ‘pioneer identity’ within our national consciousness and both the logistical import and the imaginative significance of the railroad within the colonial project of Westward expansion.
Since her guest talk Dr. Collins has actively continued this collaboration with The La Jolla Playhouse. She recently organized a tour of the Playhouse for her History, Memory, and Popular Culture advanced seminar (COMM 145), as the Playhouse is currently featuring a popular culture take on the politics of public history: John Leguizamo’s 2019 sixteenth-century themed comedic musical Kiss My Aztec!
Dr. Collins, who is also a Postdoctoral Scholar with the California Historical Society and the California Institute for Rural Studies where she is working on an upcoming traveling exhibit and podcast series about African Americans in the history of California agriculture and rural communities entitled “We Are Not Strangers Here,” looks forward to more opportunities such as these to develop analytical frames for understanding the role of public history narratives in society.
Dr. Collins is a Lecturer in our department and currently teaching COMM 145: History, Memory, and Popular Culture as well as COMM 129, Race, Nation, and Violence in Multicultural California in Winter and a seminar (COMM 190) on “Making ‘Americanness’ in Popular Culture” in the Spring.