Mark Helmsing

Mark Helmsing

Mark Helmsing

University Affiliate

Assistant Professor

Historical Culture; History Education; Affect & Emotion; Museums; Folklore & Education; Vernacular History

Dr. Mark Helmsing is an assistant professor in Mason's College of Education & Human Development's Teaching and Teacher Education (TATE) Ph.D. program; Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning (ASTL) M.Ed. program; and Secondary Education (SEED) M.Ed. program. Dr. Helmsing is also an affiliate faculty member with Mason’s Center for International Education (CIE), Mason's Folklore Studies Program, and Mason's Department of History & Art History. In 2020 he joined the newly created Reconciling Conflicts and Intergroup Divisions Lab within Mason's Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution

As an educational researcher, Dr. Helmsing uses ideas and methods from folkloristics and public pedagogy to better understand: (1) how people learn to develop affective and emotional attachments to the past; (2) how to support cultural sustainability through history and heritage in learning about the world; and (3) how to approach the art and poetics of teaching as an expressive performance. Through his research, Dr. Helmsing has conducted fieldwork in schools and communities throughout the United States, including the Urban Advantage Program in New York City Public Schools, as well as in cultural institutions such as the Arab-American National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. His work has also included global experiences with students in Germany and Poland to study how people express historical attachments to the Holocaust and in Cyprus to study Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot historical attachments across borders. In 2019 he worked with colleagues to establish the Death Collective, a research group of faculty across universities who study how we learn from death, grief, and the ghosts of our past. A co-editor of the book Keywords in the Social Studies: Concepts and ConversationsDr. Helmsing has published numerous book chapters and articles in journals such as Theory & Research in Social Education; Journal of Social Studies Research; Journal of Adult & Adolescent Literacy; Journal of Curriculum Theorizing; Race, Ethnicity, & Education; and Review of Education, Pedagogy, & Cultural Studies and serves on the editorial boards of Taboo: A Journal of Culture and Education and the Journal of Curriculum & Pedagogy.  Dr. Helmsing is a co-editor with the Editorial Team of The Teacher Educators' Journal and is co-editing a special issue on learning from ghosts through death, loss, and remembrance in The Journal of Folklore and Education for publication in 2022. 

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Selected Publications

Christ, R.C., Helmsing, M., van Kessel, C., & Varga, B. (In Press). Teaching grim matters: Situating COVID-19 within the context of death and grief. In W. Journell (Ed.), Social Studies in the Wake of Covid-19 (Expected December 21, 2021). 

Varga, B., van Kessel, C., Helmsing, M. (2021). Engaging with the death & memorialization of socially significant public figures in social studies education. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies, 9(1), 73-83.

Varga, B., van Kessel, C., Helmsing, M., & Christ, R.C. (2021). Hello from the other side: Breathing life into death and grief with/in the context of social studies education. Iowa Journal for the Social Studies, 29(2), 8-29.

Helmsing, M., & Porter, A. (2021). Teaching the history of the AIDS Crisis: 40 years of HIV/AIDS in American life. Teaching Social Studies, 21(1), 11-17.

Zenkov, K., Helmsing, M., Parker, A.K., Glasser, H., & Bean, M. (2021). Portrait of a teacher educator as a weary pedagogue: Narrating our way to a post-pandemic vision of education preparation. The Teacher Educators’ Journal, 14(Spring), 106-125.

Helmsing, M. (2020). Dreams of the past: The work of dreaming and historical (un)consciousness in history teacher education. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 35(4), 74-86.

Helmsing, M. (2020). Uncertain historical knowledge for uncertain times. Knowledge Cultures, 8(2), 82-86. 

Helmsing, M. & Noy, S. (2020). Teaching global health in the time of Covid-19: Key concepts for social studies. Journal of International Social Studies, 10(2), 103-112. 

Helmsing, M. & van Kessel, C. (2020). Critical corpse studies: Engaging with death and corporeality in curriculum. Taboo: Journal of Culture and Education, 19(3), 140-164.

Helmsing, M. (2020). Youth, Becoming-American, and learning the Vietnam War. In S.R. Steinberg & B. Down (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of critical pedagogies (pp. 1411-1420). SAGE Publications.

Huddleston, G. & Helmsing, M. (2020). Pop culture 2.0: A political curriculum in the Age of Trump. In P.P. Trifonas (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research in cultural studies and education (pp. 543-557). Springer.

Helmsing, M. (2020). Queer theory and the social studies: Engaging with histories, communities, and identities. In C. Brant & L. Willox (Eds.), Teaching the Teachers: LGBTQ Issues in Teacher Education. Information Age Publishing. 

Helmsing, M. (2019). Disability plots: Curriculum, allegory, & history. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 34(1), 110-116.

Helmsing, M. & Vardas-Doane, A. (2019). Teaching and learning medievalism in popular culture as history education. Teaching Social Studies, 19(1), 25-30.


Ph.D., Michigan State University

B.S., Indiana University