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Kenneth Shonk

Specialty area(s)

Modern Ireland, History of Rock 'n' Roll, Social Studies Education, World History

Brief biography

Though as a historian my geographic and chronological emphasis is in 20th century Ireland, I do consider myself to be more of a world historian. My dissertation research focused on the formation of the Republic of Ireland as a construct of the republican party dubbed Fianna Fáil. My current research examines Ireland’s significance as both an imaginary and physical space in which nations were able to justify and negotiate independence in the years following the formation of the Irish Republic in 1937. So far, my research on the topic has included visits to Ireland by such nationalist figures as Eak Tai Ahn, Ernesto Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah, Jarawahal Nehru, Tom Mboya, Col. Ojukwu, and D.S. Adegbenro. This preliminary round of research will be published in Ireland’s Imperial Cultures (Manchester University Press) and my article is entitled “The Shadow Metropole—the Varieties of Anticolonial Discourse in Ireland, 1937-1968.” Apart from Irish history and social studies education, I have teaching interests in the global history of sport, modern Britain and western Europe, Empire and decolonization, rock and roll, fascism, and cinema and history.

My career in history began in the California public school system, where I taught the entire curriculum of secondary social science, as well as Advanced Placement World History and SDAIE courses in world and US History. Regarding the art and craft of teaching, I am most interested in addressing the relevance and value of teaching social studies/science in the 21st century. This is a question that is a response to the increased marginalization of social studies education in America, and is very much informed by my own struggles as a classroom teacher to justify the importance of social studies curriculum in our schools. Building off my experiences as a Fellow for the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Learning, my goal as researcher, historian, and educator is to demonstrate the value and importance of social studies education, especially as they relate to the skills and habits and minds endemic to such fields as history, political science, economics, psychology, and sociology, among others.

Current courses at UWL

Spring 2018:

HIS 408: Teaching and Learning in the Secondary Social Studies Classroom

HIS 407: European Fascism

EDS 492: Student Teaching Seminar


B.A. History, Humboldt State University, 1996
M.A.T. Education/California State Teaching Certification/CLAAD Certification, Azusa Pacific University, 2002
M.A. History, California State University, Fullerton, 2005
Ph.D. Irish History, Marquette University 2010

Professional history

1997-2005, 2006: Social Science Teacher/Department Chair, Arroyo High School, El Monte, CA.

2005-2008: Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.

2009: Research Fellow, Institute for Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

2010-2013: Assistant Professor, History and Broadfield Social Studies Education, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Superior, WI.

2013-Present: Assistant/Associate (2017) Professor, World History and Social Studies Education, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Research and publishing

History and Theory Through Popular Music—Those are the New Saints. London: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2017. Co-authored with Daniel R. McClure.

"The Shadow Metropole: The Varieties of Anticolonial Rhetoric in Twentieth Century Ireland, in eds. Timothy McMahon, Paul Townend, Michael de Nie, Ireland in an Imperial World: Citizenship, Opportunism, and Subversion (Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series). London: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2017.

Fashion’s Latest Whims Need Not Alarm Us: Fianna Fáil, Femininity and the Conspicuous Consumption of Republican Nationalism, 1931-1937.” The New Hibernian Review (Fall 2015).