The History Department Welcomes (back) Dr. Ben Wright!

photo-on-8-20-15-at-1-49-pm-2The Fall semester has a certain cadence. The rush of September gives way to a steady October routine; as we approach the finale, Thanksgiving week allows a (too brief) respite before the mad scramble of the final weeks, when final projects compete with the Festival of Christmas and final exams. Today, we as a department pause briefly to celebrate the Christmas season and enjoy each other’s company during our Christmas party.

I’ve been looking forward to today even more because we have the honor of welcoming back Bethel alum (’05), and former history major, Dr. Ben Wright, who will speak to our students during our celebration. After graduation, Ben went on to do his graduate work at Columbia and Rice University, and is now Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas. Ben has wide-ranging teaching and research interests, from religion to ideas about the apocalypse across cultures, but he primarily focuses on the history of race in the U.S. Ben is also at the forefront of our profession in finding creative ways in the digital age to study history, doing trailblazing work in the digital humanities. He is co-editor of both the Abolition Seminar, an online K-12 teaching tool on the abolition movement, as well as the American Yawp, a free and online American history textbook. Ben’s visit today has perfect timing: The history department has spent a long time designing a new digital humanities major here at Bethel, which we tentatively hope to launch next fall. Ben will speak to us today about his digital projects, and how all of us, students, professors, future teachers, can harness computing power to share our passion for the past with a wider audience.

If you have some free time this afternoon, stop by HC 413 at 2:50 for some free coffee and treats, and to hear about the great work this particular Bethel alum is doing.

The Things They Carried: Chris Moore

In the Bethel History major we have a number of courses which are taught by faculty from sister departments like Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science.  Dr. Chris Moore is one such faculty member.  Chris teaches International Relations courses in Bethel’s Political Science department, but he also teaches a few courses which are cross-listed in history – Revolution and Political Development (HIS241L) and Human Rights in International History (HIS324G). I sat down with Chris recently and what follows are his comments about the things he carries.

the-things-they-carried-moore-numbers

1. Bag. This is my bag, it’s leather Samsonite. I’ve already replaced the shoulder strap once.  It’s durable and has decent capacity.  It was an anniversary gift from my wife, Stacy, about six years ago.  I don’t have a tweed jacket with elbow patches, so this is my nod to the stereotypical professor in my mind.

2. Notepad. Even though most of my writing occurs electronically, I still like to have a small notepad on me for taking or leaving notes. This one looks retro and cool.  It currently contains notes on our open job search in the political science department.

3. iPhone and ear buds. I have a lot on my phone: email, calendar, many pictures of my kids (Sabrina is four and Tommy is one).  I have about 10 gigabytes of music, some of which I’m proud to admit, and some, well, not so much.  I’m using the ear buds to listen to a podcast if you see me wearing them on campus.  I also have a few games.  I usually have a Words with Friends game going with Prof. Van Geest, and I used to play Trivia Crack with my students until they gave up challenging me.  I’m on Facebook and you can find me on Twitter @DrChrisMoore.

4. Course Texts. These are two course texts from this semester. Affluence and Influence is the culmination of ten-year study of the role of money in shaping American political outcomes.  Surprise, surprise: the wealthy get more of their policy preferences enacted into law, even when a majority of voters oppose them.  I’m using this book in our political science senior seminar.  If there’s a subtheme of the course this semester, it’s different works on justice and equality.  The other book, Superpower, lays out three strategic foreign policy postures the United States can take in the post-Obama world.  I’m using it in my American Foreign Policy seminar.  I wonder which one President-Elect Trump might choose?

5. Pointer. I’m not what you’d call “great of stature”.  When I use maps or charts in class, which I do often, this is good for referring specific points.  I suppose a laser pointer would be more efficient, but this is better for comedic effect.

6. Dice. I use dice in class a lot: to determine if a quiz will occur that day, to create teams for projects, etc.  I use these dice, which are brass and are chromed, because they’re really heavy and they don’t roll off the table when I roll them in class.  I let students reroll if they don’t like the result for a quiz, but only if it’s their birthday.

7. Pens and Markers. Everyone needs them.  I always pack a few extra dry erase markers when I’m teaching in a room with dry erase boards.  I’m partial to black, except for grading, where I like red.  Is red too traumatizing?

8. Business cards. These tiny rectangular anachronisms are usually passed out at academic conferences.  However, I like to keep a few in my bag, because they make good reminder cards for a student or me if we’ve set up an appointment.

9. Reading glasses and case. I don’t often wear these, because they’re only for eyestrain, which only tends to manifest itself around finals week with particularly hard to decipher handwriting.

Honoring God Through Athletics

On Saturday, November 12, 2016, friends and fellow travelers of The History Center gathered at the Underground for the program “Honoring God Through Sports and Athletics.”  Three coaches—Gene Glader, Tricia Brownlee, and Steve Johnson—presented the history of athletics at Bethel University.

In the 195os and 60s, Dr. Gene Glader was coach or assistant coach for four men’s athletic teams (football, basketball, track and cross country), intramural director, instructor in physical education, athletic director, and chair of the physical education department. Glader’s presentation highlighted the challenges of athletics at Bethel in the two decades before the campus moved from the Snelling Avenue location to Bethel’s current home in Arden Hills.  Only basketball had “home” turf with a campus gym; all other sports had to scrounge around the area for practice and game fields.  Glader described the men’s football team practicing on the quadrangle lawn of the Snelling Avenue campus.  This was also the era before Bethel had a conference affiliation, so coaches were on their own to organize a “season” of athletic competition for their teams.

Nine of Dr. Tricia Brownlee’s 33 years at Bethel were in the physical education department. Brownlee started the volleyball program in 1968 at the urging of female students, and the softball program in 1969.  The remainder of Brownlee’s years at Bethel were in the academic dean’s office, retiring in 2001 from her role as Dean of Academic Programs. In addition to narrating Bethel’s athletic history from the 1970s to the present, Brownlee’s presentation highlighted the impact Title IX (1972) had on women’s athletics at Bethel and the stunning successes of women’s teams beginning in the mid-1980s.

Steve Johnson, now in his 28th year as Bethel’s head football coach, shared through a prerecorded video interview.  For those familiar with Coach Johnson, he stayed true to form with an emotional testimony about the interaction of faith and sports in the lives of athletes and coaches.

The event also featured athletic artifacts from The History Center and a book sale of publications produced by the Friends of The History Center.

 

 

The Things They Carried: Charlie Goldberg

Greetings all! I am glad to have the opportunity to introduce my digital self to the readers of AC 2nd. I am Charlie Goldberg, and the calendar informs me that we are somehow two months into my first semester as a professor of History here at Bethel. My first weeks have been exciting, often hectic, but incredibly rewarding. As I’m sure you can all relate from intense stretches of newness in your own lives, the life of a first-year professor can sometimes feel like racing from one crisis to the next. Even on the busiest of days, though, it’s easy to bring to mind the many enriching conversations I’ve had with students, faculty, and others here at Bethel, each one a reminder of just how lucky I am to pursue my passion for cultivating a deeper understanding of the past in young people.

Today, I’d like to contribute to “The Things They Carried” Series, introduced by my colleague Sam Mulberry, where we history professors document the material “stuff” that makes our job possible. Below, I’ve chosen a few items that are representative of my first several weeks here. Some pertain to my research, and some to my teaching, but in whatever way, they create a mosaic of the odyssey of a first year professor of History.

The Things They Carried - Goldberg (Numbers).jpg

1. Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe. This was a recent gift to me from my wife, Rachel. I was having “one of those weeks” where, for whatever reason, nothing seemed to be going right. This was her way of helping me remember that one of my gifts, and indeed the core of my job, is in “explaining things.” After reading the first few pages, I became fascinated by Munroe’s project, which is to illuminate complicated scientific processes by using only the thousand most common words in the English language. So, for example, instead of a “nuclear missile,” Munroe describes a “machine for burning cities.” Instead of a “cockpit,” we read about “stuff you touch to fly a sky boat.” As part of my duties here at Bethel, I am in the midst of proposing a new major in the Digital Humanities, which (among other aims) hopes to deliver some marketable, high-tech skills to Humanities students. As anyone learning how to use new technology can attest, though, it’s very easy to get bogged down in complicated jargon, which only impedes learning. Munroe’s book is therefore a good exercise in the importance of simplicity and economy of words.

2. Digital Humanities Proposal 4.2. When I was hired to propose our new DH major, I was lucky enough to count on the tireless work that others in our department and around campus had put into this new venture, perhaps most notably Professor Chris Gehrz. In the past weeks, various committees around campus have discussed the new major, and this proposal has become my handbook to explaining our vision for the major, and what we hope it will provide for our students.

3. CWC Reading Packet. Most semesters, I will teach Christianity and Western Culture, which probably needs no introduction for our readers. When I was writing my dissertation at Syracuse University, I was laser-focused on all things ancient Rome. It has been such a breath of fresh air to teach CWC because of its goal of connecting the entire swath of western history through the centuries. It is reminder of the power of the past to speak to us across the abyss of time.

4. Roman Power. A common refrain I heard as I finished up my doctorate, moved across the country, and began to teach here at Bethel, was how difficult it is for a new professor to find time for research during their first year. Lesson plans need to be written, syllabi designed, and university procedures learned. I count myself lucky on the rare occasion to have even an hour or two in the week to read an article in my field of ancient history. But as a professor, remaining connected to our individual areas of expertise is important. Because writing a book review is a relatively small burden that even I can hope to complete, I’ve committed to reviewing William Harris’ Roman Power in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. I may not be able to finish up the article I’ve hoped to complete this year, but reviewing Harris’ book will allow me to remain connected to important conversations in Roman history.

5. American Quarter. I had high hopes of this being a photo of a Roman denarius, but unfortunately it has not arrived in the mail yet. But this is my way of announcing an exciting project I am designing for HIS311 Roman Civilization for next Spring. I have procured a few dozen Roman coins, fresh from an archaeological dig in Europe. Next semester, my students and I will clean, catalog, and identify each coin, and then bring them to interested readers via the Bethel Coin Project, which will present our findings online. It will serve as my first attempt at incorporating DH tools in my own classroom here at Bethel.

6. Field Notes. Despite my need to live and work “in the digital world,” I’m still rather “analog” at heart. Perhaps it’s the classicist in me. For example, I typically carry this trusty notebook wherever I go, be it to class, a meeting, or back to my office to lesson plan. As our world becomes increasingly digitized, It’s important to remember that we remain, to put it crudely, meat bags, with earthly instincts and sentiments. Sometimes nothing helps me gather my thoughts quite like writing them out by hand.

The Things They Carried: Sam Mulberry

“The Things They Carried” is not only the title of a short story collection by Tim O’Brien but also series of articles in Foreign Policy Magazine.  In these articles, a writer at Foreign Policy profiles a person with a unique job in the world of international relations by creating a photo spread of the items that they carry with them as they perform their duties. This series was pointed out to my by my colleague in the Political Science department Chris Moore.  It seemed like an interesting way to use physical objects to tell a a person’s story and to profile who they are and the job they do.  He challenged me to create a similar series on our departmental blog to highlight the people in my department and the work that they do.  I agreed.  As a guinea pig to test how this would work, I started with myself.  Among other things, I am one of the people who teach Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) course.  These are the things that I carry to when I go to give a lecture.

the-things-they-carried-mulberry-numbers
click to enlarge

1. Paper Box Lid – I am often seen walking around campus caring the lid to a paper box filled with the items I need for class or meetings.  People who see my at a distance think that I’m carrying a pizza or a box of doughnuts.  I end up disappointing them with the in-edibility of the items that are actually in the box.  In my office I have a stack of eight extra boxes for when my current box begins to break down.

2. Class Announcements – One of my jobs in CWC is to coordinate the team of Teaching Assistants(TAs) for the class.  At the beginning of each lecture one of the TAs reads the announcements to the class.  This is both to let students know about upcoming events and to get the TAs comfortable speaking in front of 130 students.

3. Lecture Notes – When I first started lecturing in CWC, I would write out the text of my whole lecture.  Now I’ve moved to starting my lectures by building my PowerPoint and then writing out my lecture talking points on a printout of my slides.  My goal is to not have to make reference to my notes while I’m giving a lecture, but it is always helpful to have them with me when my mind inevitably goes blank.

4. Zoom Audio Recorder – For about a decade I have been audio recording CWC lectures – both the lectures give and those given by my colleagues.  We use these lecture recordings to help orient new faculty to the course as they are writing new lectures.  I also listen to a recording of my lecture from the previous semester in morning before class to help me review the content that I need to cover.

5. Printouts of PowerPoint Slides – It is part of my job to manage disability accommodations for the students in CWC.  I bring printouts of the PowerPoints to give to the students who require this as part of their accommodations.

6. Dry Erase Makers – When CC313 – the lecture hall where CWC is taught – was remodeled in the summer of 2015, the chalkboards were removed and replaced with whiteboards. I am not a huge fan of whiteboards largely because I have anxiety about the markers dying on my in the middle of class.  For this reason I bring a box of black dry erase markers for specific CWC use in CC313.  I put blue tape on the ends of the markers to label them as CWC markers. The ones that are bundled in the rubber band and brand new, while the un-bundled markers have been used.  Once a marker starts to fade, it needs to be recycled.

7. Diet Mountain Dew – I am both addicted to caffeine and not a fan of coffee.  So Diet Mountain Dew is pretty ever-present as my caffeine deliver system.

8. iPod Touch – I don’t own a cell phone, but my iPod Touch is a necessary piece of my daily routine.  I rely on in for e-mail, texting, and as my timepiece.  I don’t listen to music much, but I do listen to lots of podcasts. I also use by iPod to listen to recordings of my old lectures in order to prepare for future classes.

9. Keys – My keys are actually an important item to have in class, because inevitably I will forget to bring something to class and will need to run back to my office at the last minute.  There are more keys on this key ring than are necessary.  I actually only know what four of these keys are for.  I’m not even sure where the others came from, but I’ve carried them around for over a decade.

10. “To Do” List – Every morning I start my day by writing a “To Do” list.  It includes all of my daily appointments and all of the tasks that I need to complete.  I carry it with me throughout the day and check off tasks as they are accomplished.  I’m pretty certain I’d me unable to do my job without this regular routine.

11. Pens – I am never without a number of pens, and most of them are green. I do all of my grading in green pen and ask the my TAs do so as well.  This was something that I inherited from my mentor and predecessor Virginia Lettinga.

12. Clicker – I move around quite a bit when I teach and I use a significant number of timings and animations in my PowerPoints. Having a clicker keeps me from being tethered to my laptop.  I got my first clicker as a gift from Mike Holmes.  Although that clicker eventually broke, I still carry keep it in my computer bag because a gift from Mike Holmes is pretty cool.

13. Laptop Computer – I typically bring my computer to class and hook it up to the classroom projector.  I do this because I’m kind of picky about my PowerPoints and I like to use specific not standard fonts at times.  If I run the slideshow off my my computer, then I feel more confident that everything will work.  I also use my computer as a portable podcast and movie studio for other aspects of my job.

Really Cool Stuff

One of the benefits of serving as director of archives is overseeing the acquisition of some really cool stuff for the History Center collection. And yes, “really cool stuff” is technical jargon in the archival world. In recent years the History Center has received a number of objects that not only strengthen the collection but also enhance our ability to tell meaningful stories about Bethel University and Converge Worldwide.

  • Bethel Alumni Coffee Club mugs. The “coffee club” alumni fundraising campaign began in 1984 and continues to this day. The History Center has a nearly complete collection. We are missing the mug from 1986. Is it in your cupboard?
  • Nancy Lundquist’s briefcase. Nancy Lundquist was the wife of Bethel College president Carl Lundquist. Beginning in the 1960s and well into her retirement, Nancy was a sought after speaker for conference women’s events and retreats.
  • History Department sign. This metal sign hung outside the History Department House, 1446 Arona Street, located near the old Snelling Avenue campus in St. Paul. After the move to Arden Hills, the sign was displayed inside GW Carlson’s office until his retirement.
  • Lantern projector, glass slides, microscopes, and pull down science charts from Bethel’s Department of Biology. Teaching technology has certainly changed over the last one hundred years!
  • Bethel College president Carl Lundquist’s academic robe and wooden lap desk. These items give testimony to Dr. Lundquist’s public and private academic life.
  • The class of 1925 donated funds for a brick gate at the street entrance to the Bethel Academy building, located at Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. The “Class of 1925” stone that was integrated into the gate is now part of the History Center collection.
  • Corbels from the Snelling Avenue Bethel Seminary chapel.  Even these small architectural elements have a big story to tell.
  • Bethel’s 2007 Regional Emmy Award for “Audio-Post Production, Bethel University Festival of Christmas.”  Bethel University won an Emmy?!  Who knew?  The golden Emmy statue came in a beautiful box too!
  • A small carpet square from the original carpet installation in the Bethel University library.  Gold was a popular carpet color in 1972!

If you are thinking to yourself, “Gee, I’ve got a ———, I’d love to donate to the History Center,” please contact me before bringing your treasure to the archive. Our space is limited, and you may be surprised to find out we already have the item you wish to donate!

—Diana Magnuson

Happy Trails? Welcome Back?

“So the Midwest nourishes us … and presents us with the spectacle of a land and a people completed and certain. And so we run to our bedrooms and read in a fever, and love the big hardwood trees outside the windows, and the terrible Midwest summers, and the terrible Midwest winters …. And so we leave it sorrowfully, having grown strong and restless by opposing with all our will and mind and muscle its simple, loving, single will for us: that we stay, that we stay and find a place among its familiar possibilities.”

-Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Many of you know that I grew up in a tightly-knit, largely Dutch, Calvinist community in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I did feel nourished by that community, the people did seem completed and certain, and my mother probably saw my leaving as almost a kind of betrayal.  My immediate family remains in Grand Rapids, and sometimes when I think of “home,” it’s Grand Rapids rather than Northeast Minneapolis that springs to mind.  I remain grateful for that place, the people, and the identity that community helped me to create.

I hope Bethel has nourished you, but I guess I think it’s okay if our community doesn’t always seem completed and certain.  And, while I miss you, I’m glad to see you leave.  It would be selfish to keep all of you, with your attendant gifts, to ourselves.

Still . . . I really like it when you come back, and I hope that sometimes you inadvertently think of Bethel, too, as a kind of home.

dsc00838
Katie McEachern and Hilary Ritchie (both class of 2013) visiting in Northeast Minneapolis before their respective departures to Fuller Theological Seminary and Princeton Seminary in September 2016

Homecoming at Bethel this year is scheduled for October 1.  We hope to see many of you on campus.  In light of our tremendous losses over the past academic year, we are planning what I like to call “the Memory Project.”  Come to campus, share your favorite memories of Professors G. W. Carlson and Stacey Hunter Hecht, and then join us afterward for a walk to the Royal Gardens where will dedicate a pair of apple trees to their memory.  None of this will bring them back, but it does help remind us that they are an integral part of the cloud of witnesses we share.

The End of the Summer

Professor Emeritus Kevin Cragg always used to tell me that the summer was basically over when we reached the 4th of July. That always seemed about right, but there’s also the tradition of summer ending at the closing of the Minnesota State Fair. This year, however, Bethel begins its semester before Labor Day. So, while it doesn’t seem quite right that students can attend class one day and the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” the next, that is the reality.

Graduation F2016 Crop 2
Spring 2016 Graduates

The end of the summer. When I think about endings, the graduating class of 2015-2016 comes to mind. Every year, it seems, we lose our best students. Many of you are out there now, about to start teaching in your very own classroom for the first time. Some of you have gotten married. Others are off to graduate school. Wherever you are, I hope you are thinking critically about the world around you and your place in it. I hope you are reading books. I hope that you see the beauty of the world around you even as you are sensitive to its pain.

The end of the summer also means a sabbatical for Dr. Chris Gehrz. If you stop by his office, you’ll notice that hanging on his door is a photo of his temporary digs for the fall semester out there in the wilds of Virginia. Even as he rests, however, I am certain he will keep busy. If you miss him, you can always “follow” him at his blog. And, don’t worry: he’ll be back in time to join Professor Mulberry to take students to Europe for the WWI course in January. Then, there’s always Christianity and Western Culture, Introduction to History, and World War II with Dr. Gehrz in Spring 2017.

Typically, endings also mean beginnings. This academic year brings Dr. Charlie Goldberg to our department. It brings the beginning of a new major: Digital Humanities. It brings us our returning and new students, our best students of the future.

Beginnings also represent opportunities for fresh starts. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer [BCP] that guides my religious life contains a litany for “Morning Prayer,” which offers me a chance to dedicate my soul and body to God’s service anew at the beginning of the day:

AND since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The litany helps me see each day as a fresh start. The beginning of the academic year represents a fresh start on a grander scale. Maybe this is the year I am kinder. Maybe this is the year I am more patient. Maybe this is the year I get all my work done in a timely and efficient manner. Maybe . . . .

Of late, I’ve been listening to an artist named Mason Jennings.  I find it helpful to adopt theme music from time to time. This year, I think Jennings’ “Instrument” will be in heavy rotation. This is no B minor mass by Bach, but I sort of find its sincere simplicity fetching. Maybe you will too.

Prof. Gehrz Joins Patheos Evangelical History Blog

Chris GehrzThis blog generally stays pretty quiet during the summer, as our students and faculty scatter and busy themselves with summer research, work, and travel. But our own Prof. Chris Gehrz maintains his usual blogging schedule at The Pietist Schoolman, posting three or four times a week on “Christianity, history, education, and how they intersect.” (Yesterday marked the fifth birthday of that blog.) Now, you can also read Chris once a week at a much more prominent site.

Starting last week, he joined The Anxious Bench, a group blog on the Patheos Evangelical channel where “historians of broadly evangelical faith share their reflections on contemporary faith, politics and culture in the light of American and global religious history.” The Bench also includes Philip Jenkins (author of The Great and Holy War, among many other books), John Turner (The Mormon Jesus), David Swartz (Moral Minority), and Beth Allison Barr (The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England).

Anxious Bench logo

Taking the spot of Baylor historian Thomas Kidd, Chris will both administer The Anxious Bench and write posts every Tuesday morning. Today he shared the story of a former Bethel dean whose Baptist principles led him to oppose school prayer in the 1960s. Last week he debuted with a post on British Christian responses to the “Brexit” debate and a call for Christians to love their LGBT neighbors by learning their history.

The WWII Film Festival

This afternoon in HIS231L World War II: the first of a two-part film festival, as student groups presented ten-minute documentaries about topics from the war. Today we learned about everything from the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland to the German atomic weapons program, Hitler Youth, and attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in July 1944. On Thursday we’ll watch films about Holocaust rescuers, Navajo code-talkers, African American pilots and soldiers, and the postwar refugee crisis.

Mitch De Haan introducing his group's documentary film
Mitch De Haan ’17 introduces a film on the legendary Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä, made in a group with fellow History/Social Studies Ed major Brandon Sebey ’17 and Biokinetics major Andrew Zwart ’18

It’s the third time I’ve assigned this kind of project — once before with HIS231L, and then the last time HIS230L World War I was taught on campus — but the first time it’s happened over a full semester, rather than during J-term. It was inspiring to see the quality of student work in a 200-level gen ed course: both the depth of research and the quality of digital storytelling, as students integrated narration, primary source readings, “talking head” interviews, still photos, newsreel clips, and background music.

– Chris Gehrz