Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Farewell, until August!

I just couldn't leave for my sabbatical without one more post. I realized that announcing the new Chair of History also meant I was announcing my "retirement," so here goes.....
After five and a half years, I am stepping down as chair of the History Department.

In some ways, I am a little sad to be leaving this job behind. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the faculty and students in the department. We've done a lot of amazing things in the last five years: we hired Professor Purcell and Professor Dungy; we weathered NEASC and an external self-study; the number of majors has grown exponentially.
In other ways, the job has certainly had its perks; it has certainly been nice to be the person who says "yes!" to students when they want to declare a major or minor in History, need a little help with their study abroad application, or just my signature for an add/drop form.

It has also been nice to welcome parents to events like the Phi Alpha Theta induction ceremonies, the ice cream socials at graduation time, or the student research symposium events.

There are some things I won't miss: the extra meetings and the endless administrative paperwork. I am also looking forward to getting back to my research and writing on my sabbatical this spring and then back to full time teaching next fall. I'll see you all in AY 11/12!

New Chair in the Chair!

The History Department welcomes our new chair, George Dameron. In the spring, Professor Dameron will assume the responsibility of leading the department.
Professor Dameron becomes chair in an exciting moment. In the fall of 2011, we embark on a new curriculum with all kinds of changes.
While the department is excited about these changes, we also expect there will be some adjustments to be made.
We also have two new faculty members who will need guidance and mentoring; his plate will be full! We look forward to his leadership in the new year with anticipation and pleasure!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Senior Thesis History and American Studies Students Rock!

Friday, Dec 3rd and Saturday, Dec 4th, were the History Senior Theses Presentations for the Fall semester of 2010. This year twenty-one students presented their capstone projects over two days. The projects ranged from papers on "Bohemia, Sex, and Art" in 20th century United States (Alexandra MacMillan) to "Kingship and Kinship" in medieval Europe (Ryan Socha).

Professor Ke-wen Wang, thesis coordinator for the fall, organized the broad group of papers into sessions of three papers each on related topics. Each student presented their work in a 15 minute talk with powerpoint slides to support their work. At the end of each session, the panel opened the floor to questions from the audience.

All of the papers were interesting, well presented and are a tribute to the students, their hard work, and the students' various mentors. Congratulations on a job well done!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saint Mike's Students make Selma Documentary

On Dec 9th at 7:00PM, the student documentary film Bridging the Gap was screened at Eddie's in Alliot.

This ten minute film was produced by the History students from my fall semester class: The Society of Saint Edmund in the Era of Civil Rights.

It is so beautiful! I am so proud of the group and their work! It was an amazing evening with the film, a panel discussion and the two interns, Victoria and Meghan, who hosted us on our study tour in Selma, Alabama.

Although Liz Scott, our archivist and my co-instructor for the course, and I followed the development of the film since our return from Selma in mid-October, the students have been the directors, producers and editors.

This film project is the culmination of their study of the era, their work in the archives here at St. Mike's, and reflected their civic engagement through the seminar during our study tour/service trip to Selma.

The trip was undoubtedly the highlight of the course. we were able to visit some of the most historic sites associated with the Civil Rights movement in Alabama including Dr. King's Dexter Street Church, the Birmingham church where the four little girls were killed by a bomb, the Edmund Pettis bridge, the Dallas County Courthouse, and the capital steps in Montgomery.

The experience of traveling to Alabama, meeting the people of the Edmundite mission and the Alabamians they served was powerful.

Although this was my second trip to Selma, it is still a very emotional experience for me. It was more so for the students, most of whom have never been in the South, especially the rural South.

It was amazing to walk in the footsteps of the brave people who believed dignified citizenship so important that they were willing to risk life and limb to make their stand.

We also toured current day facilities that serve the poor, the disabled, and the elderly. Our visit to the children's hospital at the City of Saint Jude was especially moving.

Our hosts in Selma, the Edmundite mission folk and their friends, worked hard to introduce us to the joys, challenges and amazing need that exists there today.

We all came back with a renewed sense of the need and our responsibility to those who do are less fortunate. I am personally grateful for the opportunity to get to know my students in this course and to work with Liz, Meghan, Victoria and Father Steve.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

History launches new blog!

Welcome to the Saint Mike's History Department's inaugural blog posting!

We hope that this blog will introduce you to the department and that future blogs will alert you to the exciting people and events in our corner of the campus.

First, let me introduce myself. I am Susan Ouellette, a Professor of History and American Studies. As an early Americanist I teach the American history courses that cover the colonial and Revolutionary eras. I also teach and research local history subjects including my courses on the Saint Albans Raid. One of my favorite courses is one I team teach with the College archivist, Elizabeth Scott: The Society of Saint Edmund in the Era of Civil Rights, which includes service to the SMC archives and a study tour to Selma, Alabama.

Our newest colleague in the History Department is Professor Kathryn Dungy who came to us this fall from Florida. She is obviously a brave soul to come to the frozen north and teach with us!

Professor Dungy is a Latin American specialist who is teaching the surveys in Latin American history and this spring will teach an upper level seminar on Race in the Americas. We are all excited about her courses and what she brings to our department in her expertise as well as her fresh perspectives.

Another nearly new faculty member is Professor Jennifer Purcell. As a historian of modern Europe with a specialty in British history, Professor Purcell teaches courses that explore a range of topics from empire to national identity to WWII. Her new book, The Domestic Soldier: British Housewives and the Nation in the Second World War(2010) is causing a stir.

This spring she will be offering a course on 19th century Britain that will include her signature style of combining literature, film, primary sources and scholarly readings.

Professor Ke-wen Wang is also a historian of the modern period, but specializes in East Asian topics. His work on Nationalist China, Japanese society and culture, and his current work on newspapers in Republican China is all reflected in his courses.

Among his courses this spring he will be team- teaching one of the students' perenial favorites with Hideko Furukawa, a professor from Modern Languages. This course, Japanese Culture, combines the historical with contemporary cultural and social perspectives.

Professor Douglas Slaybaugh is a modern American historian whose specialties include modern American politics and society in the 20th century. His courses range from a social and cultural history of the United States from 1865 to the present to one of his most popular courses: Presidential Elections.

The Presidential Elections course was taught in the fall of the 2008 presidential election when Barack Obama became the first black American president; students were fascinated by the history of that particular event and the way it resonated in the current election cycle.

Professor George Dameron is an historian of medieval and early modern Europe with a specialty in medieval Italy. His upper level seminars cover topics from the Black Death to gender and society in medieval Italy. He will become the interim chair of the department in spring 2011 and the appointed chair in fall of 2011.

His spring seminar, The Historian's Craft, is a study of the way in which historians across time and space have researched, interpreted and written historical accounts from ancient times to our own.

This spring will be the last full semester of teaching and advising for Professor Thomas Andersen, who will retire after more than forty years of teaching at Saint Mike's.

Over the years, he has taught survey and upper level classes on Early Modern and Medieval European topics.

His upper level courses include topics such as European Witchcraft, the Crusades, and the Roman Empire.

The History Department faculty invites you to come and visit us in person on the second floor of the library and to look for future posts on our blog!