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Fun last few days

From Wednesday, October 13 to Saturday, October 16, we hosted the Northern Great Plains History Conference in Grand Forks, ND. There were a number of great papers and panels on a wide variety of topics. Yours truly presented papers on the social transition in Illinois Civil War camps of instruction, A. C. Townley’s leadership of the Nonpartisan League, and chaired a panel. I was also able to meet several fine graduate students all doing great things at several far-flung programs from CUNY to TCU, to even New Brunswick. It was a great amount of fun to host the conference and meet so many great scholars. I look forward to keeping in touch with those who I met.

New blog by an up and coming scholar

Glad to be posting up again. I am quite busy with class, teaching, and getting ready for the Northern Great Plains History Conference. I just stumbled upon this blog by a Navy veteran who desires to earn his doctorate and goes by Grouchy Historian. It looks interesting, but I will have to check it out a bit later. I will try to post something a little later today, but need to get back to grading.

Reflections on the start of the semester and teaching

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it is good to be back in the game again. I know the content has been lacking for a long time, but with summer, there’s not much to write about. I am in the classroom this fall, teaching a section of History 103, the United States to 1877, as well as taking a readings course on the Anglo-Atlantic World, and a research seminar. In addition to that, I am still blogging and reviewing books, and have begun a foray into Civil War reenacting. My colleague Stuart Lawrence and I began a Civil War Round Table in April and are trying to get it off the ground. Needless to say, I am busy.

Having done a couple lectures so far, I am slowly starting to get into a nice groove. The one thing I still have trouble with is using Power Point for my lectures, as none of my professors at Illinois College used it. Despite that, the students are a great group and seem attentive. I am starting to get them to come out of their shells and talk in class a little more. It seems that they are getting what I am presenting in lecture. I am trying to use a little humor to get them to open up with varying success.

I will say that the biggest challenge is preparing for each class, as I always have in the back in my mind the issue of whether or not I am presenting the material right and to an appropriate level. I have gotten some positive feedback from a couple students on the textbook I chose. The class is also reading Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoir as well, which I hope they enjoy and will gain something from reading it.

Overall, I am finding teaching rewarding and look forward to working with and getting to know the students. I hope to get posting here more in the coming weeks, as I am back in the groove and will possibly have some fellow doctoral students from the department involved as well to broaden the view. Until next time, keep researching and working.

Getting ready for the Red River Valley History Conference

This Friday, March 5, the Beta-Upsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta will host its 5th Annual Red River Valley History Conference at the Memorial Union on the UND campus. Several student will present papers on a variety of topics. In addition, staff from our Dept. of Special Collections, as well as local archivists will present a panel on careers in public history. Finally, Dr. Robin Jensen will deliver the keynote address as part of the 2010 Robert Wilkins Lecture at 4:00PM entitled “Living Water: Rituals, Spaces, and Images of Early Christian Baptism”. Below is the schedule of panels:

Panel 1: (9:15-10:30)—Memorial Room

Race and Gender in 19th Century America

Chair:  Daniel Sauerwein, UND

“No Country For End Men:  A Re-Evaluation of American Small Ensemble Blackface Minstrelsy From 1843 to 1853.” By Dorothea Nelson, UND

“Independence in Cape Palmas:  The Contentious Path for Autonomy in Maryland in Liberia” By Matthew Helm, UND

“Women and the American Civil War” By Chad Holter, UND

Panel 2: (9:15-10:30)—President’s Room

Controversy in American History

Chair:

“What Are You Afraid Of? How Governments Have Reacted to Real (or unreal) Threats” By Mark Hermann, UND

“The Lost Environmentalists:  The Struggle Between Conservative Christianity and the Environment in the 1970s” By Neall Pogue, NDSU

Panel 3 (10:45-12:00)—Alumni Room

Material Culture, New Media, and How They Shape History

Chair:

“Grandma’s Cookie Jar” By Kathryn Nedegaard, UND

“French Heritage Tour 2009 – Directed by Dr. Virgil Benoit with IFMidwest” By Emilie VanDeventer, UND

“William Bligh or Jack Aubrey? Two Alternative Historical Views of Nelson’s Navy” By Jon Eclov, UND

Panel 4: (1:00-2:30)—Memorial Room

“Career Paths for History Majors: Opportunities in Museums and Archives”

Chair:  Daniel Sauerwein, UND

Leah Byzewski, Director, Grand Forks County Historical Society

Curt Hanson, Head, Department of Special Collections, UND Library

Mark Peihl, Archivist, Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County

Michael Swanson, Assistant Archivist, Department of Special Collections, UND Library

Alison Voss, Head Curator/Director of Education, Bonanzaville

Panel 5: (1:00-2:30)—Alumni Room

Art and Faith in European History

Chair:  Dr. Bill Caraher, UND

“Caught between the Old Man and the New:  Women and the Body of the Soul in High Medieval Ghost Stories” By Christopher Gust, UND

“The Theology of Existential Salvation in the Interrogative Sayings of the Desert Fathers By Paul A. Ferderer, UND

“A wild boar from the forest:” Martin Luther as a Model of Rebellion, 1520-1525” By Danielle Skjelver, UND

“The New Topographics: Emergence and Legacy” By Ryan Stander, UND

Panel 6: (1:00-2:30)—President’s Room

The Power of Persuasion in early 20th Century America

Chair:  Dr. Kimberly Porter, UND

“Father Coughlin: A Historiography of the Radio Priest” By Emilie VanDeventer, UND

“Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitism and Influence on the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Nazi Party)” By Paul Robinette, UND

In addition, conference participants have the option to partake of a lunch and there will be displays for various on and off-campus entities, including the Society for Military History, Elwyn B. Robinson Dept. of Special Collections, Civil War items by Stuart Lawrence, to name a few. I hope you will come out and join us if you are in the area.

A great weekend for hockey

November 29, 2009 1 comment

Cross-posted and edited from Civil War History

I know, you are all thinking, what does this have to do with my Ph.D. program? Well, some of the gang over at Civil Warriors (a blog I regularly follow) are into ice hockey and I can’t let them be the only ones talking a bit of hockey. Plus, I can’t resist a friendly jibe at Dr. Mark Grimsley, who teaches at Ohio State University (though he is currently a visiting professor at the Army War College), as that was one of the teams visiting scenic Grand Forks this weekend.

This weekend was the tenth annual Subway Holiday Classic, which brings teams that UND would normally not play to Grand Forks for a fun weekend of hockey over Thanksgiving break. Last year, we hosted Cornell for one of the games. This year, the weekend featured three of the top ten college hockey teams, as the Bemidji State University Beavers (#6), Miami University of Ohio RedHawks (#1), Ohio State University Buckeyes (yes, OSU actually has ice hockey), and the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux (#4) all played.

Bemidji opened the weekend on Friday by defeating Miami in a good game that was a rematch of last season’s semi-final match (Frozen Four), where Miami beat Bemidji 4-1. This time, the tables were turned, as Bemidji defeated Miami 3-2. Later that day, the Sioux played the Buckeyes, which was a fun game, as I was sitting right behind the boards by the penalty box for OSU, which was a bit interesting with some of the crowd who were around me. We defeated the Buckeyes (sorry Mark) 4-1 in an awesome game. On Saturday, Bemidji lost a tough game to OSU in overtime 2-1 and we had to settle with a tie in a very exciting game against Miami 5-5. Needless to say, the weekend was good and the rankings should change soon. To the hockey fans at Civil Warriors, we should talk hockey sometime.

Thinking about assessment, textbooks, and Dakota Territory

In Tuesday’s class, we had a visit from Dr. Joan Hawthorne, Assistant Provost for Assessment and Achievement at UND. I must admit that while we learned a great deal about assessment, I am not completely convinced of the value of it. Dr. Iseminger posed a question to us about our future in teaching, whether or not we chose this profession to fill out paperwork. I will say that I did not decide to go into the historical profession and teaching to fill out paperwork most of the time.

We also handed in our textbook evaluation assignment. I feel that the assignment was a worthwhile one, albeit a little long in pagination. We examined several textbooks, considering aspects of attitudes on race, gender, events covered, ideology, and prose, to name a few areas. Textbooks have increased their focus towards women and minority groups and have increased space devoted to images and graphics. This makes them less usable to instructors, but there are options. Brief editions of textbooks are a good option, as they are smaller in size, have a better prose, and are often cheaper, which is great students. My choice would be to use a brief edition.

On Wednesday in North Dakota History, we finished our discussion on homesteading, with Dr. Porter and I “building” a twelve foot by fourteen foot shack and using students to represent five people, a calf, and twenty-four chickens, which resulted in a very cramped place. We then turned our attention to Dakota Territory, including mention of William Jayne from my alma mater Illinois College, who was the first territorial governor. We also learned about the idea that almost prevented North Dakota from becoming a state, as there was a plan to divide the territory between Minnesota and give the rest to other states, with the dividing line along the Missouri River. Fortunately that did not happen, otherwise I would be Minnesotan, which comes with having an SNL alum as a Senator and being in Gopher country for hockey (shudders). It will be a fun Friday, as we will finish our discussion of the territory and I will then head to Des Moines, Iowa for the North Central Region Conference for Civil Air Patrol.

An exciting last few days

The last several days since my last post have been quite interesting and enjoyable. On Friday, October 16, I lectured for Dr. Porter, who was attending the Northern Great Plains History Conference. The experience was interesting, but I survived, as I was able to deal with notes that were fairly light and hard to read. In class we discussed the creation of the Great Northern railroad and then began discussion on the various groups that immigrated to North Dakota.

Later that afternoon, I live-blogged the colloquium on Teaching and Learning in the Memorial Union for the blog Teaching Thursday. It was a unique experience and one I hope to do again, but it does have its frustrations, as in attempting to record details of sessions the best for the blog while a presenter is speaking. You can read my posts on the speech during lunch, afternoon session one, and session two at the blog. Also, be sure to check out there interesting post regarding cheating this week.

On Tuesday, Dr. Mochoruk visited HIST 551 and we learned about the procedures and committees behind tenure, retention, and promotion among faculty. It was an interesting lecture that provided a great amount of helpful information as far as planning a career in academia.

Wednesday, we handed back exams in North Dakota History and then discussed the first part of the sources of North Dakota population. I finished the lecture today and it went much better. My copies of the notes were darker and easier to read, plus Dr. Porter and I took the time to go over the notes so that I knew what she was writing. Things went smoothly, though the class is shy about engagement with questions and one young lady decided texting was better, but I simply ignored her and moved on.

On a whole the week has been good, but I have to finish an assignment for class, which is always somewhat depressing, but it is what I do. My mother is visiting town this weekend, as my grandmother’s birthday is Sunday and my cousin just had her first child on Tuesday, and despite various complications with the birth and other family members, the week is good. Several of us are going to deflate and laugh by going to see Larry the Cable Guy tonight, which will be therapuetic given the last couple of days. Until next time, keep researching and teaching.