College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Dr. Mark Helmsing
PhD, Michigan State University
Assistant Professor
History, Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning
Secondary Education 6-12

Contact Information

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Phone: (703) 993-2384
Fax: (703) 993-2013
Email: mhelmsin (

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George Mason University
Fairfax Campus
Thompson Hall 1801
4400 University Dr.
MS 4B3
Fairfax, VA 22030


Dr. Mark Helmsing joined the faculty of George Mason University in 2017 and is currently a faculty member in the School of Education's Secondary Education (SEED) M.Ed. program; Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning (ASTL) M.Ed. program; and the Teaching and Teacher Education (TATE) Ph.D. 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. Dr. Helmsing advises students across different graduate programs as well as undergraduate research through OSCAR and Mason's B.I.S. program. As part of his work in teacher education, Dr. Helmsing serves as the university facilitator for clinical teaching experiences at Lake Braddock Secondary School, a partner school in Mason's SEED program. As an educational researcher, Dr. Helmsing studies how people learn to form and express historical attachments to the past in schools, museums, popular culture, and everyday life. His research has included studies of how U.S. teachers and students express different feelings and attachments for the nation; how U.S. high school students express attachments of national belonging; how the U.S. as a nation is figuratively troped and imagined in social studies curriculum; and how pre-service educators in different parts of the U.S. imagine their regional and national identities. He is also a member of a research collective with faculty at other universities in studying how death and dying appear when learning about the past, including a study of how bodies and corpses are expressed in history curriculum and studies of how the past is imagined in ghost walks, graveyards, cemteries, and related areas of 'dark' heritage. Dr. Helmsing has conducted fieldwork in schools and communities throughout the United States 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. Dr. Helmsing is a co-editor of the volume Keywords in the Social Studies: Concepts and Conversations and 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. He is a member of the editorial board of Taboo: A Journal of Culture and Education; Journal of Curriculum & Pedagogy; and a number of different academic book series.

Research Interests
  1. History & Social Studies Education
  2. Affect, Emotion, & Feeling in History Education 
  3. Heritage Studies & Folklore Studies
  4. Material Culture, Museums, & Memorials
  5. Embodiment & Visceral/Sensory Research  

Seeking Collaborators: Competencies Offered and Sought

Recent Publications

Huddleson, G. & Helmsing, M. (2019). Pop culture 2.0: A poliitcal curriculum in the Age of Trump. In P. P. Trifonas (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research in cultural studies and education (pp. 1-15). Springer International Handbooks in Education. Springer: Cham. 

Helmsing, M., Krutka, D.G., & Whitock, A.M. (2018). Introduction: Unsettling the social studies. In D.G. Krutka, A.M. Whitlock, & M. Helmsing (Eds.), Keywords in the social studies: Concepts and conversations (pp. xxi-xxxi). New York, NY: Peter Lang.  

Whitlock, A.M. & Helmsing, M. (2018). Time. In D.G. Krutka, A.M. Whitlock, & M. Helmsing (Eds.), Keywords in the social studies: Concepts and conversations (pp. 37-45). New York, NY: Peter Lang. 

Helmsing, M. (2018). Making America great (again and again): Certainty, centrality, and paranoaic pedagogies of social studies education in the United States. In J.A. Sandlin & J. Wallin (Eds.), Paranoid pedagogies: Education, culture, and paranoia (pp. 99-120). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Helmsing, M. (2017). A small town with long roads: Wyoming as a postwest curriculum. In W.M. Reynolds (Ed.), Forgotten places: Critical studies in rural education (pp. 291-301).  New York, NY: Peter Lang. 

Helmsing, M. (2016). Life at large: Materializing social studies education for re-enchantment. In N. Snaza, D. Sonu, S. Truman, & Z. Zaliwska (Eds.), Pedagogical matters: New materialisms and curriculum studies (pp. 137-151). New York, NY: Peter Lang. 

Helmsing, M. (2016). "This is no ordinary apple": Learning to fail specatcularly in the affective pedagogy of Disney's diva villains. In J.A. Sandlin, & J.C. Garlen (Eds.), Disney, culture, curriculum (pp. 59-72). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Helmsing, M. (2014). Feeling responsible: Vulnerable encounters in social studies education. In H. Smits & R. Naqvi (Eds.), Framing peace: Thinking about and enacting curriculum as radical hope (pp. 43-48). New York, NY: Peter Lang. 

Helmsing, M. (2014). Grotesque stories, desolate voices: Encountering histories and geographies of violence in Southern Gothic's haunted mansions. In W.M. Reynolds (Ed.), Critical studies of Southern place: A reader (pp. 316-323). New York, NY: Peter Lang.