Dr. Kathy Peiss, author of Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style, recently visited Lower Merion High School to speak to more than sixty eleventh grade U.S. History students about the cultural and political significance of the zoot suit fashion in American history and around the world. The author's visual presentation included old movie clips featuring the zoot suit, along with highlights of other primary source documents she used to write Zoot Suit. Dr. Peiss emphasized the important research process that academic writers of historical nonfiction must follow and encouraged students to explore all print and digital resources available to them through all kinds of libraries in order to validate their written work.
Several students in Mr. Chad Henneberry's AP U.S. History classes had been given copies of Zoot Suit to read in advance of Dr. Peiss's visit, a collaboration with the LM Library who sponsored the event. Students had discussed the book and developed a list of questions for the author. Following the large group presentation, Dr. Peiss met with the smaller group of student readers to answer their questions. Those students were Jaimie Lim; Emily Rumsey; McKenna Axtell; Julia Ochroch; Alyssa Holmberg; Christopher De Santis; Prince Geutler; Isabel Bruckman; Jessica Gordon and Philip Monos.
Dr. Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She offers courses that emphasize people, things and events that have shaped and contributed to America's cultural history.