Wendy Rouse

Wendy Rouse

Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences


What research questions currently preoccupy you?

I am researching the history of the women's self-defense movement in the Progressive Era. In my role with the Social Science Teacher Preparation I am also looking at ways that K-12 teachers can better engage their students in the classroom especially as they work toward implementing the new Common Core framework.

What personal factors contributed to your research?

My research focus has been on the history of immigrant women, children and families in the Progressive Era. Through the course of my research I came across several articles on women studying boxing and jiu-jitsu in the early twentieth century. This fascinated me since I had taught women's self-defense for several years, and we were always taught that the movement emerged from second-wave feminism. I wanted to know more about the origins of this Progressive Era self-defense movement.

I am interested in studying teaching and engagement to help teachers improve their practice and reconsider traditional lecture-based approaches to teaching by implementing student-centered inquiry-based instructional strategies.

What has been most challenging in your research?

Finding the right balance between teaching and research.

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

Last year I was able to use research support from SJSU to travel to an archives in Tulane and Smith College to look at the personal records of a woman involved in the self-defense movement. I have also used SJSU support to connect with fellow educators interested in K-12 teaching at Social Science education conferences.

A hidden (research) talent:

I am particularly adept at using genealogical sources like ancestry.com to reconstruct the life story of an individual and flesh out details lost in traditional sources.

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

On the current project it would be Martha McCaughey's Real Knockouts, since it helps connect the world of academia with the world of real-life women's self-defense instructors.

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

Teaching Channel for ideas to continually improve my teaching.

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

Research and study what you love!

RSCA accomplishments

Hero Own Hero: The Origins of the Women's Self-Defense Movement. New York: New York University Press, 2017.

The Children of Chinatown: Growing up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1850–1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

“Iron-Jawed Angels and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage.” Hollywood or History? An Inquiry-Based Strategy for Using Film to Teach U.S. History. Scott L. Roberts and Charles Elfer, editors. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Forthcoming.

“Fong Bow’s File: Chinese Exclusion and Resistance.” Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 43, no. 1 (Spring 2018). Forthcoming.