Department of History
PhD, American Studies, Brown University AM, Public Humanities, Brown University MA, Communication, Culture & Technology, Georgetown University BA, History and Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University
M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska is a cultural historian of the 19th and 20th century US. Her research interests include public history, museum studies, historiography, visual and material culture, media history, and critical theory. Rymsza-Pawlowska is the author of History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s (2017, University of North Carolina Press), which traces the emergence of immersive engagement with the past in postwar American culture.
Rymsza-Pawlowska is active in D.C.’s local history community, collaborating with a number of area organizations. She also serves on the editorial board of Washington History, and the planning committees of the D.C. History Conference and the Humanities Truck. Her other public history activities include appointments to the Conference Committee of the annual Public History Summer School at the University of Wroclaw, Poland, and as editor of the 2021-2025 American Revolution 250th Commemoration Scholars' Forums, co-convened by the National Council on Public History and the National Park Service. Finally, she is a co-chair of the Working Group on the Influence and Legacies of Slavery and Settler Colonialism at American University, and serves on the board of Humanities DC.
Rymsza-Pawlowska is currently working on two new projects: one about time capsules in the U.S. and the problem of form in historical analysis, and the other, tentatively entitled, Going to Washington: Appointees, Activists, Tourists, and Militia in the Capital: A History. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Public Historian, A.S.A.P/J, Washington History, Journal of Popular Film & Television, and Film & History. She previously taught in the Department of American Studies at Brown University and the Graduate Program in Historical Administration at Eastern Illinois University. At AU, she teaches courses on 19th and 20th century U.S. history, public history, museums, and historiography.