Past to Present
The newsletter for alumni and friends of Colorado College's History department.
Spring 2012 Edition
On the Faculty Front
Here departmental faculty tell their own stories in the third person--about their teaching and professional lives outside the college. They also share occasional observations about life, and life as a historian.
Susan is winding up seven years as Dean of the College/Dean of the Faculty on June 30. She will take a year-long sabbatical to complete a manuscript on conceptions of deviance at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. She also plans to catch up on the latest articles and books. After that, it's back to the department and to teaching. She hopes teaching is like riding a bike--you don't forget how once you've done it.
Anne Hyde is on sabbatical this semester, spending the first part at the Newberry Library in Chicago, doing some research about mixed-blood people in nineteenth century U.S. Now that she has two children in college, she's enjoying spending time with her high-school daughter and looking forward to settling in for some writing. She's also serving on a committee for the American Historical Association to work on making the wider public understand why history and the skills it teaches are essential to an undergraduate education. She'll be calling on some alums for their perspective on the value of history!!
Peter has just gotten back from Chicago where he taught the Newberry Library version of his pre-colonial African history course. This enabled participants in the class to take advantage of the Newberry’s extraordinary collection of primary sources by giving students more time for research than they would have at CC. Two other teaching initiatives: the first with Juan Lindau which was taught right before Chicago and the second with Daniel Arroyo-Rodriguez in the Spanish Department on the Spanish Civil War. The class with Juan, entitled Latin America: Catholic and catholic, examined the cultural aspects of Latin American Catholicism over the centuries as well as the institutional church. He always enjoys teaching with Juan and the class went well. The second, scheduled for spring 2013, is part of the College’s initiative for teaching foreign languages across the curriculum. Students can designate whether they want to do their reading and research in Spanish, which will be supervised by Prof. Arroyo, or on an “English” track which the two professors will oversee together. Peter is really looking forward to teaching this subject which he did many years ago and which is very close to his heart. Finally, he continues his own work on his favorite Latin American historian, Richard Morse.
Doug Monroy has had quite an adventure preparing and teaching a new course, “Contemporary US History, 1973-2003.” It’s curious that he remembers most of the events but was not aware of how our understandings of so many of them have changed. Most interesting were such issues as the seismic shifts in Republican foreign policy as the “hardliners” ousted Henry Kissinger and the “realists;” how Reagan and Gorbachev ended the arms race if not the Cold War (no the Soviet Union did not “lose” the Cold War); and the mechanisms by which the War on Drugs resulted in mass incarceration, or what one of our authors calls “the New Jim Crow.”
Trivia question: how many Republican presidential tickets between 1952 and 2004 did not have a Nixon, Dole, or Bush on it?
Carol has been chairing this year, which is not hard because everybody is so helpful—especially, of course Sandy, but also the entire department. She is working on finishing her book called The Eagle’s Youth (on twelfth-century religious life) and is starting a new project on mental illness in the Middle Ages. Her formerly-little twins are now big ten-year olds, which is fun, and it has not worked to put bricks on their heads so they will likely keep growing up.
This year has proved quite eventful for Tip. In the fall, he continued to explore the relationship between same-sex sexuality and political culture in eighteenth-century France. With the help of a sabbatical leave, he gave several papers analyzing this relationship at conferences and on campus. During the spring semester, Tip returned to teaching. He taught his course on Music and History in the Enlightenment with colleague Michael Grace. In addition, he and Jane Murphy offered their course on Jordanian history, taught in that country as part of Colorado College’s Mediterranean semester program. Finally, with the support of a faculty development grant awarded by CC’s Social Science Executive Committee, he spent three weeks in Israel to bolster his “Eastern Mediterranean” teaching credentials.
to our own Anne Hyde whose recently published book, “Empires, Nations and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860”won this year’s Bancroft prize, the country’s most prestigious award in the field of American history. As if that weren’t enough, she was also one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in history! Wow, Anne, we’re so extraordinarily proud of you!
This year has been one of comings and goings in the History Department and around Colorado College. As readers of this newsletter will be aware, Jill Tiefenthaler succeeded Dick Celeste as president of the College last summer. Dean Susan Ashley is stepping down at the end of this academic year, to be succeeded by Sandi Wong of Sociology. After a year’s sabbatical Susan will return to teaching history. So the CC macrocosm shapes our HY microcosm, itself marked by some temporary and some permanent recent changes.
For the past three years, Kris Pangburn has supported us as a leave replacement in modern Europe, and for the past two years, Gretchen Boger has filled in in U.S. history. This year, Comp Lit alum Eli Alberts has been John William’s sabbatical replacement in East Asian history. Eli will be back for four blocks next year. Kris will be remaining for a final year while Gretchen goes on to teach in a wonderful prep school program back East. Two blocks of US history in 2012-13 will be manned by an ABD from Stanford, Scott Spillman, here finishing his dissertation and training or marathons. David Torres-Rouff is leaving the college for California, where he and his wife Christina (CC Anthropology) have both gotten appointments close to family. We wish David and Gretchen well. Students and faculty alike are grateful for the contributions of all of our wonderful young visitors over the past few years.
Tip Ragan was on sabbatical last fall and Anne Hyde has been this spring while John Williams has had a year’s leave. We have no sabbatical leaves next year, so a full staff will be here to initiate a search for a new tenure-track faculty member in South Asian history, as the most prospective element in the whole series of changes noted here. So the department moves on—and all this is at once ordinary and extraordinary.
But what has been really exceptional about this year is that ANNE WON THE BANCROFT PRIZE. History alums will recognize that this is THE prize in American history. Anne’s Empires, Nations, and Families was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in History. Such honors do not befall often at CC—or at any small liberal arts college, where teaching is valued highly and research is, well, important but achievements on this scale elusive. Anne’s former students will recognize, with her colleagues, that she does it all—and that we as her colleagues and students also give daily her our prize for the other parts of the job which touch us more directly even as we bask in the reflected honor for our department of her path-breaking big book.
Anne succeeds me as chair next year. It has been my privilege to warm the seat, after Tip’s four-year leadership, until Anne returned from leave—an easy job with Sandy’s able help, and a great opportunity to appreciate our students and the role of this lively department in the continuing development of the College’s program.
Historian Spotlight: Eli Alberts and Brian Joseph
An interview by Peter Blasenheim
I’m sitting in my office with two of our renowned alums, Eli Alberts, Class of ‘91/’92 and Brian Joseph, Class of ’91. Eli is with us this year as a Visiting Asst. Prof. of Chinese history while John Williams is on sabbatical. His PhD is from the East Asian Languages and Civilization Department of the University of Pennsylvania.
He’s lived in China and Taiwan for almost ten years and he’s been studying Chinese language, history and culture for about twenty. This year he’s teaching courses on ancient and modern China and Japan. As for Brian, he was a history major with a US focus but he was very much interested in Asian studies even back then. He spent his junior year in Nepal and earned his MA degree in South Asian Studies from UW: Madison. Currently, he’s the senior director for Asia and global grants at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. The NED is a congressionally funded foundation that supports democracy and human rights groups around the world. Last night, he delivered a lecture on the state of democracy in Asia.
Peter: Starting with you Eli, what’s it like to be back at CC?
Tell us what you think, and send your news! Carol, your editor here, will collect these various truths and we will go from there: CNeel@ColoradoCollege.edu
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