Drawing upon an extensive multimedia archive of fictional and documentary sources from 1800 to the present, M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska explores how personal experience, popular culture, and politics have defined the expectations and experiences of visitors to Washington, DC. In this talk, Rymsza-Pawlowska will share from her recent research, focusing especially on working with visual and material evidence from the long and interesting history of visits—by tourists, officeholders, activists, and militias—to the nation’s capital.
M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska is associate professor of history at American University. She is the author of History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s, numerous academic articles, and pieces in the Washington Post and the Inclusive Historian’s Handbook.

M.J. is 2023 Scholar in Residence at the Heurich House Museum and serves on the editorial board of Washington History as well as advisory boards for the DC History Center, the Humanities Truck, and the University of Wroclaw’s Public History Summer School. She is on the board of directors of Humanities DC and is series editor for the National Park Service and National Council on Public History’s 2021–25 American Revolution 250th Commemoration Scholars’ Forums. Rymsza-Pawlowska earned a doctorate in American studies from Brown University, and MA degrees from Brown in public humanities and Georgetown University in communication, culture, and technology.

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