Sunday, September 18, 2011

Early Fall Semester Update

It is indeed hard to believe that we are at the beginning of the fourth week of our fall (2011) semester! I think we have started the semester well here in the History Department. Our six full time and two part-time members of our department are offering sixteen courses on the introductory and upper levels, covering American, European, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Asian history. (Our colleague, Dr. Douglas Slaybaugh, is on sabbatical this fall, as I think I have mentioned before.) We have a number of new seminars offered this fall. Each caps at fifteen students, and they include "Orwell in the 1930's" (Dr. Jennifer Purcell) and "Topics in Latin American History: Islands in the Caribbean" (Dr. Kathryn Dungy, pictured above). We also have one new introductory survey course, "Medieval Europe" (taught by yours truly), which is a one semester replacement for our medieval history survey that used to be two semesters. Other offerings on the upper level include "World War II in Asia," "The American Revolution," and "The Black Death."
What is also particularly exciting to me is the strong start of our senior seminar in History, required of all majors in their senior year. This is the capstone course for our majors, and each of them will be presenting his or her research results in early December. It is always a small seminar, and this semester we have fourteen students working on a variety of topics (ten History majors and four American Studies majors). The wide-ranging topics include the Armenian genocide, the history of policies in Major League Baseball on performance enhancing drugs, the Thomas Indian School in New York, and the legacy of racism in Birmingham, Alabama.
In the past few months we have been revising our History Department Web site, so if you have not yet checked it out, please do so. We also have a number of upcoming events, including our annual Kuntz Lecture early next semester and our bi-annual pre-registration pizza dinner for our majors in October (when we lay out the course selection for the following semester).
Today I am headed out to the Ethan Allen Homestead in the new North End of Burlington to hear a lecture by my colleague, Dr. Susan Ouellette. She is talking about what we can learn about women's work in early nineteenth century America from her study of the diary of Phebe Orvis Eastman (her current research). This comes just a few days after I heard my colleague in Religious Studies, Dr. John Kenney, speak at the College on Neo-Platonism and Saint Augustine. These are two reasons why being a faculty member at Saint Michael's College can always be so enlightening and also so much fun. The learning just never stops, even (or especially) for a middle-aged college professor.

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