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Lendol Calder Biographical Sketch


Lendol Calder is a social and cultural historian of the United States teaching at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL. Lendol first felt the pull of the past when he was seven years old and began receiving weekly letters from someone named Daniel Boone. No joke—the letters were written in Boone's flowing hand and were postmarked "Boonesborough, Kentuckee." An investigation into the source of these letters has led Lendol to believe they were written by a kind and creative aunt. Or possibly by Daniel Boone.

Lendol CalderEducated at the University of Texas, Austin (B.A., 1980) and the University of Chicago (M.A., 1986; Ph.D., 1993), Lendol began his teaching career at Chicago with a Von Holst Prize Lectureship, an award that permits a doctoral student to teach a course of their own design. Lendol used this opportunity to develop one of the nation's first courses on the history of consumer culture, a course he still teaches today, twenty-one years later.

Lendol's interest in how the United States became a consumer society is evident in the subject of his first book, Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit (Princeton, 1999). Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "deliciously seditious," the book showed that massive indebtedness is hardly new in the American way of life and that the true meaning of the American debt wish might be summarized in the words of a bumper sticker that says "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go." Public interest in the topics Lendol writes about—debt, credit, thrift, and the history of money management—has made him a frequent commentator on programs such as NPR's Morning Edition and in publications such as Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times.

An accomplished teacher, Lendol is also a leader in a growing movement called "the scholarship of teaching and learning" (SoTL). Since becoming a Fellow at the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in 1999, he has worked with Carnegie Scholars from diverse fields to advance the profession of teaching and deepen student learning at the post-secondary level. Lendol's research on how to teach historical thinking, published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of American History, examines the problem of "coverage" in introductory history courses and is part of a larger effort to forge a new "signature pedagogy" for the discipline of history. This work has made him a popular speaker, presenter, and consultant on topics related to historical thinking and how it can be taught. In 2010, he was honored by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation Teacher of the Year Program as the Illinois College Professor of the Year.

Lendol's current project is a study of how moral inquiry happens in history classrooms. He is also preparing two books for the introductory history course, one a guidebook for teachers on how to uncover the past with a signature pedagogy, the other a source book for students that will replace the traditional history textbook and allow them to learn the "moves" of historical thinking most appropriate for liberally educated citizens.

Lendol lives in Rock Island, IL with his wife Kathy and two children, Abigail and Andrew.

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