Leah Shopkow

Chair, Department of History

Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

Sam Wineburg entitled his collection of essays on historical cognition Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts for a good reason. As my disciplinary scholarship has made clear, placing the present in the context of the past is not important in all societies at all times, but is a culture-specific imperative. As my pedagogical research (as well as that of others) has made clear to me, learning to do it is not easy! And most people who wrote history in the past and most of those who study history in the present were not, are not, and will never be professional historians. Through my disciplinary scholarship I explore why people wrote history in the Middle Ages. I am currently completing an edition and translation of the Chronicle of Andres, an extraordinary and little-known cartulary-chronicle from the first third of the thirteenth century. In my teaching, I am seeking to provide a skill that I, raised in a culture which has valued history, think very useful to students of history, whether they become historians or even take no more than one history course-how to think about and evaluate evidence whether from the past or the present and so how to make sense of the world in which we all live. I served as the Principal Investigator and co-Director of the History Learning Project, a research team in History Pedagogy consisting of myself, Arlene Diaz (History), Joan Middendorf (Education and ISS), and David Pace (History). Our article in the Journal of American History, "The History Learning Project: A Department 'Decodes' Its Students" won the McGraw-Hill/Magna Publications Publication in Teaching and Learning Award in 2009. The History Learning Project has presented its research on teaching and learning in History both nationally and internationally.

Research Interests

  • Medieval intellectual and cultural history
  • Historiography
  • History Pedagogy


  • Ph.D. at University of Toronto, 1984