:: Spotlight: John Leffler

Posted: July 26, 2012

Photo of Dr. John Leffler
Dr. John Leffler spends time “in the field”
as a historical consultant and brings his
passion for history to the classroom.

UEX Instructor Helps Students Appreciate History

Longstanding University Extension instructor and history consultant, John Leffler brings tremendous enthusiasm to his work as a historian. He still speaks about his first consulting job with pleasure: “I was researching the history of Fort McKavett from its first development into a town in the late 1800s through its decline in the mid-1960s. I remember driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to interview an old rancher and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.”

Dr. Leffler’s intense interest in history comes through in the classroom, too. “Passion” is a word that often appears in student evaluations of his teaching. “Dr. Leffler was a passionate and well informed teacher,” says one. “Leffler’s passion and style are amazing, ” writes another. Even less inspired students find Dr. Leffler’s enthusiasm contagious: “I actually read all of the assigned books. I hate history, but he made it tolerable … like harmonica music in a prison.”

Dr. Leffler helps students see why history is important in their own lives and why they should take it seriously. A knowledge of history, he says, “helps us to understand things with a new kind of depth and complexity that we didn’t recognize before.” One of his favorite quotations is from William Faulkner: “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.”

This fall, Dr. Leffler teaches HIS 365G - Understanding World War II through American Literature and Film, a course he has been teaching regularly since 1994.

John Leffler received his Ph.D. in history from UT Austin, specializing in late 19th-century American culture. In addition to his long history with University Extension, Dr. Leffler has also taught at Southwestern University, Texas State University and Austin Community College. In addition to his teaching, Dr. Leffler has been working for many years as a historical consultant for clients such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Austin American-Statesman and the Texas State Historical Association. Through his consulting work he has written many studies of Texas history topics, including The Kreisches and Their World and Farmers, Ranchers, the Land and the Falls: A History of the Pedernales Falls Area, 1850-1970.

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