US 1900–Present, 2018

Research Interests

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history; Chicago and the Midwest; spoken performance; urban culture and reform; children and education; gender; immigration; history of the book.


House of Dreams, City of Stories: Socializing Democracy Through the Spoken Arts at Chicago Settlement Houses, 1889-1930


Fiona Maxwell studies nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history. Her dissertation explores the ways in which volunteers and participants at Chicago settlement houses used the spoken arts to bridge social boundaries and develop a collaborative approach to democracy. Fiona received her BA in History and Theatre from Northwestern University with a module in Theatre for Young Audiences. She coaches University of Chicago graduate students in public speaking as a GRADTalk consultant, teaches youth storytelling and improv classes at the Piven Theatre Workshop, and performs in storytelling venues across the Chicago area. She is also the Director of Museum Operations and Communications at the Center for Women’s History and Leadership’s Frances Willard House Museum and has worked on public history projects with the David Rubenstein Forum and the Newberry Library.