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Local Professor Makes History Fun

This year, history professor Amy Bass will focus with her students at The College of New Rochelle on why Americans are fascinated by princesses like Cinderella and Kate Middleton and what has happened to the idea of the American teenager over recent decades.

These topics will be the subject of two new courses, "American Princess" and "Rise and Fall of the American Teenager," which she hopes will make connections with everyone sitting in the seminar room.

“When students come in on the first day, I want them to see themselves on the syllabus,” said Bass, a New Rochelle resident. “We teach the kind of history where everybody fits in.”

Bass, who is also the director of the honors program, brings her expertise in public history, transnational American studies and popular culture, particularly sports, to her students.

For sports enthusiasts who think they know all there is to know about Olympic history, Bass may have you beat—she has served as a research consultant for NBC Olympics since 1996. This summer, she will head to London, England to serve as senior research supervisor for the Research Room at NBC.

“It’s exciting, and when you’re there it’s just so much bigger and better,” Bass said. “You have an all-access pass to one of the largest global events that takes place.”

Her first book, entitled “Not the Triumph but the Struggle: the 1968 Olympic Games and the Making of the Black Athlete” focuses on the study of civil rights and sports.

As a member of the Research Room for the Olympics, Bass said she uses history as a precedent to handle current situations. When she was at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010, for example, the weather was warm and foggy.

American star Lindsey Vonn skied off the course in the fog, causing teammate Julia Mancuso to crash into her moments later. When Mancuso wanted a do-over, part of Bass’ job was to figure out if there were any precedents, which there was in Jean-Claude Killy’s slalom event in Grenoble in 1968.

Bass says, "History isn't just about war and generals and presidents, facts and figures. It’s a process – one that studies the time and space of any event.  My focus, sports, film, culture, and so on, helps students understand that there isn’t just one perspective, and nothing is set in stone.  It’s a great job.”

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