Hamilton: The Man and the Musical – CUTF Introduction: Emily Mensing

Hello! My name is Emily Mensing, and I am currently a Junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I am pursuing majors in History and Political Science with minors in Legal Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. At Pitt, I am involved across campus as a Resident Assistant in a First-Year Residence Hall, a Peer Advisor for the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Department, and a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma Service Sorority and Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree, I intend to attend law school with a focus on public interest work. I want to use my education and privilege to help in the fight for equality and equity. I am currently an Undergraduate Intern with Women’s Law Project, and this experience is furthering my dedication towards helping others through the courts.

At some point after I have established myself in the legal field, I am considering becoming an adjunct professor to help educate the next generation of lawyers. I have loved the legal courses I have taken thus far at Pitt, and I would love to get to share my passions from the instructor perspective. Having the experience of being a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellow is allowing me to dip my toe into the waters of teaching and can work to serve me well as I enter the professional world and eventually return to academia.

            Back in May of 2020, I was matched with Dr. Andrew Lotz of the Political Science Department to assist him as a research assistant. One of his projects was to continue to develop his course on Hamilton (the man and the musical) that was intended to be taught for the first time during the Spring 2021 term. I expressed my love for the musical and the fascination with the historical and political figure of Alexander Hamilton, and Dr. Lotz asked if I would like to serve as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the course. He expressed that this role would be an active one in the class, and I excitedly agreed to it.

            As an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for PS0835: Hamilton, I am taking my previous knowledge and research under Dr. Lotz to work with fellow students in sharing our passions and then pushing them to the next level in their work. I will help challenge them through the development of a final project that is focused on their own research goals and interests. The format of the project is very open, allowing these students to really create something that they love and are proud of. My role is important here because I am a fellow undergraduate student who is passionate about this topic and pushing them to do the best work possible. The nature of it being an honors course allows me to help the students think outside of the box in ways that are not typically considered in traditional learning space.

I will also be teaching one of the classes during the semester, and I have elected to focus on the gender dynamics present in early America and how they influenced Hamilton through analyzing some of his writings. I intend to utilize the Schuyler sisters to demonstrate Hamilton’s romantic and intellectual relationships with women and to provide broader insight to the time period. This course benefits from my involvement as a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellow as I am able to utilize my own personal interests and knowledge in order to help other students grow in their academic work and broader understanding of this niche area of study. My role in contributing to the diversity of topics this course presents its students is important in assisting with the development of a well rounded student who challenges what they think they know. I am excited to see how everyone’s personal passions intermingle throughout the semester and create some truly extraordinary final projects.

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