The History Department would like to welcome Professor Rachel Gross to the faculty! Professor Gross is an environmental, cultural, and public historian specializing in the history of the modern U.S. Her research and teaching interests center on business, consumer culture, and gender, and she is especially interested in what seemingly ordinary consumer goods tell us about identity and power. When asked about what she was most looking forward to while teaching at CU Denver, Gross stated, “For a historian of the outdoor industry, there is no better city to be working in than Denver. Colorado is the hub of the industry, the headquarters for many outdoor companies, and—of course—a home base for outdoor enthusiasts as well. Part of my work here will include making connections beyond campus, and bringing the work we do in the department into the community.”
With the retirements of Dr. Hunt and Dr. Noel, Professors Gross and Pete Kopp will be stepping in to lead the Public History program. Recognizing the long track record the program has at placing students in the field of Public History, Gross is excited to continue the program. In addition to Public History courses, Dr. Gross teaches courses on capitalism, commodities, and women and gender.
Gross is currently working on a book, Buckskin to Gore-Tex: The Outdoor Industry in American History. The project explores the history of outdoor clothing and gear in the United States and asks why Americans go shopping on their way to the wilderness. The dissertation on which her manuscript is based won the Herman E. Krooss Prize for Best Dissertation in Business History from the Business History Conference in 2018. The Smithsonian Institution, the Lemelson Center, the Hagley Museum and Library, and the Mellon Foundation have supported her work.
As a new member of the department faculty, Gross noted, “In just a few months here, I’ve learned that my colleagues are skilled at training newer students in how to think like historians. They’ve also been able to transmit their enthusiasm for the discipline to students as well.” She looks forward to learning from her peers and seeks to keep improving student learning.
Gross’s research interests come from her personal passion for the outdoors. This summer she plans on enjoying hikes in the area and welcomes suggestions for new places to explore. The History Department is excited to have Dr. Gross’s academic and professional experiences join the faculty and look forward to working with her!