Edward J. Blum is a historian of race and religion in the United States. He is a professor in San Diego State University's history department.
In the classroom, Blum engages the past in a variety of ways, whether through music and images or debates and historical simulations. His courses cover topics including the Civil War and Reconstruction, American religious history and history through biography.
1. What inspired you to do this kind of work?
In grew up in white, middle-class suburbia. During my college years, I read dozens of books written by African Americans and Native Americans. These works opened my eyes not only to vast worlds of experience I didn’t know, but also explained to me so much of how my world worked. I just wanted to know more so I kept reading, and then writing on what I was discovering.
2. How long have you worked at SDSU?
Edward J. Blum
3. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
“In adversity there is opportunity” and “bet on yourself”
4. What is your favorite thing about your job?
Researching and writing all morning (I usually get to work about 4 a.m.) and then bringing to my classes this fascinating thing I found in the 1770s or that weird document from the 1830s. I love sitting with students, marveling with them at past events, texts and artifacts, and then finding ways to live better lives (or at least try).
5. What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?
That people with little power, property, money, or time from the past, whether women, poor or people of color, produced so many documents and artifacts for us to study and examine. It’s really breathtaking how much beauty there is in worlds most people think had little to say.
6. What is the most interesting or surprising thing about your students?
How sweet they are when they discover something for themselves.
7. If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office, what would it be?
The signed softball helmet given to me by the SDSU team several years ago. After my first son, Elijah James Blum, died as an infant, they took the time to show me compassion and care. I’ll never forget them.
1. What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?
Greg Laswell is my favorite singer-songwriter and he sometimes Skypes into my classes.
2. What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?
I admire athletes who improve when it appears they shouldn’t so Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are high on my list. But I’m also a track and field nut so even though Steve Prefontaine died before I was born, I love movies about him and even watch some of his races on youtube.