What Do Bethel History Professors Do on Their Summer Breaks? (part 1)

The calendar has turned from May to June. Spring grades are (almost) in. The Bethel campus is quiet, and even the Upper Midwest is starting to warm up.

So what will our faculty do this summer? Three share their plans today; look for the rest next week.

Charlie Goldberg is reflecting on a fruitful if frenetic Year One as a Bethel History professor. Even though his time with the History Department’s ’17 grads was relatively short in comparison with other faculty, he will cherish the memory of his first graduating class, and looks forward to continuing the relationships he’s forged with younger students next year. His summer will be a busy one, mostly spent designing two new courses for the fall: an upper level History course on Medieval Europe, and Intro to Digital Humanities, part of the new Digital Humanities major at Bethel, which the History Department has spearheaded. Prof. Goldberg is also traveling to British Columbia in early June for a week-long Digital Humanities workshop on big data textual analysis. Later, in July, he will guest lecture in a graduate course on the Digital Humanities and material culture at the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Library, where he will share his experience from the major online project on Roman coins he conducted with his Roman Civ students. Prof. Goldberg will spend any remaining free time with his daughter, Nora, growing vegetables in their garden plot in Blaine, which will either lead to a successful August harvest or else a forthcoming self-help book, entitled, Gardening with Toddlers: A Survival Guide.

Throughout the summer months Diana Magnuson will continue working at the History Center, Archive of Bethel University and Converge.  This work consists of accessioning materials, serving patrons, digitization projects with the Bethel Digital Library, and updating the HC website. Prof. Magnuson is also engaged in several collaborative research projects with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, with deadlines for two paper submissions in July and one conference paper accepted for presentation in November. She is the archivist for the Minnesota Population Center (at the U of MN) and over the summer will continue to curate their collection and exhibit space. For a little added summer spice, Prof. Magnuson has jury duty, but on most summer evenings you can find her at a soccer field somewhere in the state of Minnesota.

Huntington Library
The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA – Creative Commons (Aaron Logan)

AnneMarie Kooistra‘s plan for the summer includes a research trip to the Huntington Library and Gardens. The bulk of here research will be on Los Angeles criminal court records ranging in dates from 1862-1893.  Most of the cases involve individuals arrested under the charge of “keeping a house of ill fame.” She hopes to spend the rest of the summer writing, gardening, cooking, reading, and hanging out with family.

Next Tuesday: Learn More about Digital Humanities at Bethel

We’re happy to report that our much-anticipated Digital Humanities program is moving forward, with the new DIG200 Intro to DH course debuting next fall. It’s being taught by Prof. Charlie Goldberg, who coordinates the DH program.

To learn more, plan to join us next Tuesday (April 4) at 10:20am in the Bethel Library. Charlie and digital librarian Kent Gerber will give an overview of DH, DIG200, and the new program. Bring a laptop or tablet to take part in a hands-on demonstration of one digital tool from the new course!

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 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.

Coming to Bethel in Fall 2016: Prof. Charlie Goldberg!

Charlie GoldbergToday we’re very happy to introduce Prof. Charlie Goldberg, who will join our faculty starting this fall!

A native of Buffalo, MN who graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Charlie is about to finish his doctorate in Roman history at Syracuse University. His research explores the intersection of politics and gender in the Roman Republic, with a particular interest in Roman ideals of masculinity.

In our department Charlie will regularly teach HIS311 Roman Civilization, as well as HIS310 Near Eastern and Greek Civilizations and HIS312 Medieval Europe. He’ll also become the newest member of the teaching team for GES130 Christianity and Western Culture. Response to Charlie’s teaching demonstration was overwhelmingly positive, with one student describing him as “incredibly engaging and personable…. You can really tell he enjoys what he does.”

In addition to teaching ancient and medieval history, Charlie will work with faculty and staff from across the College of Arts and Sciences to help develop an exciting new major in the Digital Humanities (DH). As coordinator of that program and instructor of new DH courses, Charlie will draw on his work experience with a software startup and what one English professor who met him on his campus visit called his “entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to helping facilitate cross-departmental learning…. Just as Charlie is a ‘digital native,’ he also seems to be a ‘collaborative native.'”

You can hear Charlie reflect on the role that digitization plays in his own discipline and field at the end of this extended interview, in which he also talks about the importance of a study abroad experience in fixing his desire to study ancient history.

Please join us in congratulating Charlie, and welcoming him to Bethel.