Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Faculty Summer Research

This summer I will not be doing research in Italy, as I was doing in the fall semester of 2010 during my last sabbatical (the photograph of me on a bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice was taken in October of that year). Rather, like most of the my colleagues in the department, I will be writing at home this summer. In my last post I described the senior thesis presentations, awards, and festivities that come at the end of the academic calendar in May--these are the graduation events that mark the culmination of the year for the History major. After we faculty members congratulate and sadly say goodbye to our students (as we did on May 16), we begin to devote ourselves exclusively to research, writing, and to preparing for our classes in the coming fall semester. The three and half months between Commencement in May and the first day of classes in September are among the most productive periods for faculty scholarship. Dr. Susan Ouellette has already carefully outlined in her blog the nature of her work during her sabbatical on a new manuscript, and she will continue this writing project during the summer. All other faculty members in our department are equally engaged, exploring the variety of historical problems that intrigue them most. A few examples demonstrate this quite well. Dr. Purcell is currently in Britain doing research for her new book on an aspect of twentieth century British popular culture and gender (she will also be presenting at a conference). Dr. Slaybaugh, our twentieth century US historian, is beginning his sabbatical (second half of 2011) this summer, which he will devote to the research and writing of his next book. For the first part of the summer, however, he will be supervising a student, Mary Farnsworth, in her summer research project (funded by the Vice President for Academic Affairs). This is a survey and study of Ms. Farnsworth's family papers that go back to the time of the American Revolution. My main set of tasks this spring and summer is to complete three essays and deliver them to the editors who have requested them. One essay has to do with the history of the idea of Purgatory and is entitled "Purgatory and Modernity." Another essay outlines the history of the Church in the Florence (Italy) at the time of the early fourteenth century poet, Dante Alighieri. The third essay will interpret the development of church lordship in the European Middle Ages and is meant primarily for an audience of professional scholars and advanced students of medieval Christianity. So, as you can see, during the spring and summer months after Commencement and before classes begin on August 29, the members of the History Department are doing what they love to do: explore the past, write about it, and make their discoveries available to other historians and to the public by publishing their findings. And in the fall, they will bring and share what they have discovered and their enthusiasm for their research into the classroom with their students.

No comments:

Post a Comment