Dr. Denise Bossy is an associate professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences. Bossy specializes in cross-cultural relations between Indians, Europeans, and Africans in the early South. She offers upper-division courses on the history of early America, Florida, American Indians, and seminars on Southeastern Indians, gender and race, family and community, comparative slaveries and U.S. Readings I.
Her current research focuses on the Yamasee Indians of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. She is writing a monograph tentatively titled “A History of the Yamasee Indians: Ethnogenesis, Strategic Diaspora, and Resurgence.” This work is being supported through a UNF sabbatical and a yearlong fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Bossy received her Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. in American History from Yale University and her A.B. in history from Princeton. She joined the faculty at UNF in 2007. She has held fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, American Philosophical Society, Mellon Foundation, John Carter Brown library and three institutes at Yale University. Her research regularly takes her to archives across the South and Great Britain.
Get to Know Dr. Denise Bossy
What's the most rewarding experience you've had with a student in one of your classes?
A number of years ago, I took a small group of UNF Honors students on a trip to South Carolina. We started with several days in an archive, tracking down colonial period records. Their reward for working so hard was a two-day break in Charleston with historical tours and free time to see the city. When it came time to leave the archive, however, all of the students begged me to cancel the fun part of the trip so that we could keep working! (Fortunately, the archive was closed over the weekend, and we enjoyed Charleston enormously.) I love every part of the historical research process. We are truly detectives. And there is no better feeling than when I can teach a student just how thrilling it is to be a historian.
What's one thing in your field of study that people might not know?
Just 90 miles from UNF is a community of Yamassee Indians that have lived along the Oklevueha River west of Palatka since the late 18th century. The public and scholars alike know virtually nothing about their history or about their present-day community.
What advice would you give to a student who is about to graduate?
To pursue whatever it is that they love with passion and to travel as much as possible.
If you weren't teaching, what else would you be doing?
I would be a civil rights lawyer, most likely working with American Indian communities on issues of sovereignty and social justice.
Describe your teaching style.
While I enjoy and value lecturing, my preferred teaching style is the seminar discussion. I love those lightbulb moments that occur when we are all talking and brainstorming together.