I’m comfortable identifying myself as a Jacksonian historian, even a Jacksonian political historian. But there are times when I think about the other fields of history I considered pursuing.*

The first field would have been religious history. Two research areas in particular interested me. One is the history of the LDS Church, or Mormonism, as it is commonly referred to. I’m fascinated by the development of the 19th-century religious movement that identifies itself as Christian, yet is commonly viewed as a cult by other Christians. The second is fundamentalist Christianity, specifically the independent fundamental Baptist tradition that I grew up in. I think these two topics appeal to me because of my religious background, and not pursuing them probably helped my sanity, as I’m prone to enough internal psychoanalysis as is.

The second field would have been the 1960s, specifically the decade’s pop culture. I enjoy teaching the 1960s more than any other topic in the modern U.S. survey. The music, the TV shows, the fashion, the counterculture movements–all interest me.

If you had it to do over again, what different field(s) would you have studied?

* By the way, I also considered English and sociology as majors. And if I had not chosen to pursue academia, my other interest was becoming a radio DJ. I’m pretty sure we all know I made the right choice.