Professor earns grant to uncover America’s forgotten past in his new book

July 03, 2023

Headshot of Professor David Valone

Professor of history David Valone is set to uncover forgotten parts of American history through a recent research grant awarded from the Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works Impact Fund, designed to recognize areas of the “dirty” American past that may be uncomfortable for some.

Valone believes that dissecting and identifying these parts of the past is the only way we can truly understand ourselves as human beings, he said.

“I am currently working on a book project on the 'dirty' side of American history — it's a topical and thematic history of the role of iconoclasts, rebels and outcasts and how they too have contributed to the rich and complex history of the United States,” he said.

Valone said he was inspired to take to writing on this topic because he feels they are areas that are normally shied away from yet makeup aspects of the American identity.

“I'd like to contribute to a wider, more complex and more nuanced understanding of our shared past, one that encompasses both the elements of American history that we might like to embrace and those that may make us feel a bit more uncomfortable but are still very significant for our understanding,” said Valone.

Valone said he is thrilled to have earned the grant and appreciates all the support he has received from the university in his research efforts, he said.

“I've always been interested in lesser-known and underappreciated parts of the past and in different ways of seeing and understanding that run counter to the mainstream,” said Valone. “Digging up and telling stories that have been largely forgotten and weaving them together into a compelling narrative is truly what I find most interesting about it all.”

In his research for the writing of his book, Valone is delving into areas such as punk, porn and pollution.

“It may sound strange, but these topics do connect in very direct ways as I show in my book,” he said. “New York City in the 1970s might be the best example — it was a pretty filthy place, quite literally, full of trash and graffiti and overrun with adult books stores, peep show theaters and punk rock clubs like CBGBs and Max's Kansas City.”

Valone also teaches a course at Quinnipiac on popular culture in the United States, a lot of the material in his new book directly relating to the class.

Valone is excited to share his knowledge with students and to see the impact of his work on the larger university community, he said.

“Publications not only help to raise the profile of the university, but having faculty engage in and publish research overall makes them better teachers and better models for their students,” said Valone.

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