New Faces at the AHA
Meet Krista Grensavitch, Corinne Kannenberg, and Brandon Schechter
The AHA welcomes three new staff members, Krista Grensavitch, Corinne Kannenberg, and Brandon Schechter, as teaching resource developers with the AHA’s NEH-funded initiative, “Teaching Things: Material Culture in the History Classroom.”
Krista Grensavitch is a senior lecturer in comparative ethnic studies, history, and women’s and gender studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Krista says the position at the AHA “was like I was looking at the ultimate parallel universe—it was precisely what I was looking for.”
Krista has always been curious in knowing where things come from, so studying history seemed like an obvious path to exploring her curiosity. She earned her BA in classical studies from Carthage College, where she discovered her strong interest in learning about the lives of women. Krista went on to get her MA in women’s and gender studies and her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She received her PhD in 2019. Her research and teaching focus on the intersection of gender identity, material culture, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Krista enjoys experiencing the changing seasons and appreciates the subtleties of nature, learning about food and foodways.
Outside of teaching and research, Krista began foraging during the pandemic as she went on daily walks around her neighborhood and has been cultivating an herb garden. She enjoys experiencing the changing seasons and appreciates the subtleties of nature, learning about food and foodways, and has connected with others in her local community to exchange knowledge and ideas. Some of the most memorable exchanges for Krista include when she was taught how to make an Appalachian broom and how to render beef fat into tallow. She used this tallow to bake beef-fat cookies, a recipe she found in Lizzie Black Kander’s Settlement Cook Book, and gave them to her students as part of her lesson plan.
Corinne Kannenberg is a college instructor and museum professional. Her research interests include medieval religious practice and devotion, heterodoxy and heresy, and material culture (especially relics and reliquaries). Her interest in history stems from her upbringing in a close-knit community. Corinne credits her uncle, who was her high school teacher, with her early and passionate interest in European history.
Along with her uncle’s influence, her interest in history was solidified during an art history class at the University of Colorado Boulder. In her art history class, she was first introduced to the importance of reliquaries and found a passion for material culture, especially objects related to commemorative and devotional practice. Corinne went on to earn a BA in history and studio arts from the University of Colorado Boulder and a PhD in medieval history from Princeton University in 2021. She is excited to work with the AHA to bring material culture into classrooms. When asked what she wants to bring to the project, she says that she hopes to make rich object primary sources more approachable for teachers and students.
In her art history class, Corinne was first introduced to the importance of reliquaries and found a passion for material culture.
In her free time, Corinne enjoys cooking and reading and is a plant parent, a habit she says exploded during quarantine. In addition to some recent deep dives into sci-fi, she is currently rereading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. She enjoyed it as a teenager but is interested to see whether the book still holds up now that she has years of scholarly research under her belt.
Growing up 15 minutes from the Erie Canal, Brandon Schechter developed a fascination with old things. He went on to explore this fascination through the material culture of the Red Army in World War II. Schechter received his BA from Vassar College in Russian studies, furthering an interest in the history of communism and socialism that he developed as a teenager. He continued his studies at University of California, Berkeley, where he received his PhD in 2015.
Brandon has lived all over the world, moving frequently for many years. He has studied at universities in the United States and Russia and has taught at UC Berkeley, Brown, Columbia, New York University, and NYU-Shanghai. His travels have taught him how to quickly orient himself to new places and think more globally. Between his travels and his research, Brandon has become very comfortable with a state of in-betweenness. His research has led him to take on the role of interpreter, “interpreting America for Russians or interpreting Russia for Americans.” He is excited to work with the AHA and to continue to explore the ways objects and the history of socialism intersect.
Brandon’s research has led him to take on the role of interpreter, “interpreting America for Russians or interpreting Russia for Americans.”
Brandon has been adjusting to a more settled life in Brooklyn, New York, where his child has become his hobby. Together, they enjoy spending as much time as possible outdoors, biking and exploring the public parks. He also has been dabbling in learning Turkish and Tatar. Brandon is grateful for his neighbors in Flatbush, Brooklyn, whom he credits for still maintaining community even during a pandemic.
Alana Venable is research and publications assistant at the AHA.
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