Kaufman with one of Oslo's many statues.
Polly Kaufman, American studies specialist and adjunct professor
at the University of Southern Maine, spent the 1999-2000 academic
year teaching about U.S. culture, civilization and history as
a Fulbright roving scholar in Norway. The Norwegian Ministry of
Education served as Kaufman's host, sending her around Norway
to work with students and teachers at 61 upper secondary schools
and to conduct seminars on how to teach American studies in a
way that dissolves stereotypes created by American media.
Women's studies and public history are two American studies subfields
of interest to Kaufman. She defines public history as "what
you can tell about a place by looking at its buildings, statues
and museums." Upon investigating the public history of the
Norwegian capital of Oslo, Kaufman was pleased to discover 18
statues devoted to important historical women, more than in any
other city in the world.
In conjunction with a group of students from the Treider School
and their teacher, Julia Kagge, she researched the historical
significance of each of these women. Kaufman and her husband,
who accompanied her during her grant, designed a walking tour
that wound through Oslo, leading people from one historical woman's
statue to the next. The students at Treider and the staff of the
Fulbright Commission in Norway assisted her in the preparation
of a booklet to be used for the walking tour. As a result of visiting
the monuments and researching their meaning, Kaufman believed
she had a better understanding of how Norway views its women and
the kind of people the country is inspired by.
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