Reacting to the Past

Perkiss is trained in the innovative Reacting to the Past pedagogy. Through elaborate role-playing modules, Reacting brings students into historical moments and calls on them to play out the parts of historical actors in key moments of change. As students enter the worlds of 1775 New York at the onset of revolution, of 1945 India on the brink of independence, or of 2009 Copenhagen in the battle over climate change, they are called upon to make historical arguments and then support those arguments with contemporary secondary scholarship and with the documents and sources that were available to them in that historical moment. As they work to contend with bedlam in the streets of Manhattan, to claim power in the struggle between religious sovereignty and nationalism, or to enter into treaty negotiations to reduce global pollution, students experience firsthand both the work of an historian and the way history gets made: the feelings of impotency in the face of chaos, and the very human impulse to react and respond to situations without taking time to deliberate and evaluate.

Perkiss has served on the Reacting Editorial Board and co-chaired the Reacting Game Development Conference. She is co-author of Changing the Game: Title IX, Gender, and College Athletics (W.W. Norton, 2020) and Monuments and Memory Making: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1981-1982 (in revisions). Currently she chairs the Reacting in High Schools Task Force.