Call for Proposals: The 2018 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

We’re looking forward to taking part in the 5th annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium — Saturday, April 21 at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in lovely Winona, MN.

(Saint Mary’s first participated in MUHS in 2016, when we were the hosts. The symposium has also been held at University of Northwestern, in 2014 and 2017; and Bethany Lutheran College, in 2015. We’re tentatively slated to host again next year.)

Saint Mary's University of MN

Bethel faculty and students will be well represented, with our Senior Seminar-ians giving initial presentations of their research projects — which tentatively run the gamut from dime novels about cowboys to evangelical marriage manuals to environmental thought in the Early Church. But other students are welcome to propose presentations as well. Just read the MUHS 2018 CFP and fill out the application form linked in it. And, of course, we’d love to meet up with any alumni who live down in that part of Minnesota.


Back in Business… and Looking for Contributors!

Hmm… we’re nearly a month into the spring semester and haven’t posted anything at AC 2nd since just before Christmas. Time to get things back in high gear here at the official blog of the Bethel University Department of History!

Green neon "Open" sign lit up

We’ll have some announcements and other posts this week and moving forward, as we share what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

But we’d also like to hear from you: our students, alumni, and other friends. For example, would you like to be featured in one of the following occasional series of interviews?

  • From AC 2nd to… — interviews with alumni who have entered a variety of careers. Check out the current list of interviews; if you see that your career is missing — or, if you’ve had an especially interesting path to such a career — and wouldn’t mind answering some questions by email, let us know.
  • My Internship with… — pretty self-explanatory: have you completed (or are you in the middle of) an internship? We’ve featured a handful of students and recent alumni who have worked with the Minnesota Historical Society and other local historical groups, but it doesn’t need to be explicitly historical.
  • Studying Abroad in… — no, the titles aren’t all that creative. Have you spent a semester away from Bethel? Share your experience with students who might be trying to decide whether study abroad is a good fit for them.
  • The AC 2nd Travelogue — I’d love to hear more from alumni who have continued to feed their passion for the past by traveling to historic sites.
  • …History Minor — I’d also like to hear from students who combined a minor (or second major) in History with another field of study. We’ve featured several former science students… Any alumni who majored in a professional field, or a social science or other humanity, and yet still enjoyed their studies in history?
  • History Plus… — finally, I’d like to revive something we tried five years ago: a series of brief reflections from students and alumni who majored in History, but were also deeply committed to something co-curricular like musical theater or volleyball. Maybe you’d like to write about being a history student who was active in student government, Vespers, residence life, Model UN, or another sport… or about interesting intersections you saw between your studies and your work-study job with facilities, the library, or Sodexo…

If you’re interested in adding to these series — or if you have an idea for some other kind of guest-post! — just email me and we’ll get you set up. Thanks for writing, and for reading!

Learn More About Our New Digital Humanities Major

Check out Bethel News for an article about our new major in Digital Humanities! Here’s a small taste:

In a pioneering move, Bethel recently became one of the first Midwestern liberal arts colleges to offer a B.A. in Digital Humanities. The major, which officially launched in September, challenges students to use modern skills like graphic design, data analysis, and programming to explore humanistic questions traditionally posed in fields like literature, history, and philosophy.

“Increasingly, there is incredible anxiety about having something useful to bring to the job market,” says Assistant Professor of History Charlie Goldberg, who designed the major. “This is our attempt in the humanities to deliver marketable skills to students while also encouraging them to pursue their passion.”

Charlie Goldberg and DH students
Prof. Goldberg (center) working with DH students in the Makerspace – Bethel University

Prof. Goldberg is just wrapping up the first semester of DIG200 Intro to Digital Humanities, the gateway course for the major. Bethel reporter Jenny Hudalla notes that the class meets on Wednesday evenings

in the Makerspace, a new space in the library dedicated to innovation and creativity. Right now, they’re working with archived blueprints of alternative building plans for Bethel’s campus. Students will bring them to life with 3D printers, creating a tangible version of the Bethel that could have been.

“A lot of students are coming in fresh and a little intimidated about the tech component, but they’re making these really cool projects,” Goldberg says. “It’s important for people to know that they can succeed in this thing without a technology background.”

If you have any questions about majoring in DH (and how it can complement a History or Social Studies Education major), Prof. Goldberg would be happy to talk with you.

On Starting

“The hardest page to write is the first page, and the hardest sentence to write is the first sentence.” 

I have said these words to students countless times every semester for the last fifteen years as I have sat with time in my office.  Along with being a teacher in the History department I also work as an academic counselor.  I work with students on developing their study strategies and their time management skills.  Inevitably we end up talking about ways to combat procrastination. One of my favorite questions to ask them is, “How many books have you finished reading in your life that you didn’t start reading?”  There is always this wonderful, awkward pause as they do the math of the question in their head.  The answer of course – by definition – is zero.  The point I keep coming back to is that it is all about starting.

I bring all of this up because although this week marks the end of the fall academic semester, for me it mostly feels like it is about starting.  The end of the fall 2017 semester means the beginning of my spring 2018 sabbatical.  This is not only very exciting but also a little terrifying.  It means I need to begin a very big project that I’m not 100% sure that I will be able to pull off.

My Sabbatical project – if I may quote myself from my sabbatical application form:

[E]xists at the intersection of oral history, artistic endeavor, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  I plan to film long form interviews (60-90 minutes each) with 20+ Bethel faculty members – beginning with those who have been awarded the Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and expanding outward to include other faculty and staff – on the art and craft of teaching.  From this footage, I plan on building a variety of productions.  First, I plan on creating a feature length documentary film which centers on the core themes that arise from the interviews.  Secondly, I plan on editing each individual interview into its own film which will be available along with the aforementioned documentary on a website I will build to make these materials available to the Bethel community and beyond.  Finally, I foresee cataloging these materials in a way that would make it easy for me to work with groups like the faculty development team to build shorter theme based films for the purposes of faculty development and education.

Nearly every individual part of this project is something I’ve done before on a much smaller scale.  I’ve conducted long form interviews with various Bethel Faculty members. over the years as part of my Autobiography Podcast project.  I’ve done lots of different video directing and editing projects.  I’ve built websites and digital archives.  I’ve even managed a pretty large independent sabbatical project before.  All of this should lead me to feel pretty confident about this spring – and if I’m being honest, I don’t totally lack confidence in myself or my project.

But I am little scared.  What am I scared of? I’m scared that this is bigger than other projects I’ve undertaken. I’m scared that it won’t turn out well.  I’m scared I’ll get in too deep with what I film and I’ll just get buried and won’t be able to find my way out.  I’m scared that I won’t be able to pull it off.  I’m scared because I’ve built a project in which I’m not quite sure where it will go.

Because of all this, I haven’t really thought much about my project all fall.  I’ve looked for other things to fill my work life all semester so I wouldn’t have to think about or worry about sabbatical.  I realize that – just like the students that I work with in my office – I’m pretty terrified to get starting.  I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get used to that stinging realization that I need start to listening to and following the advice that I am always giving to others.  But that is where I find myself sitting this week.  I’ve never finished reading any book that I never started reading, and I’ve never finished making a film that I didn’t start making.

For me starting this project involved two tasks – the first speaks to humility and the second to ambition. For my first task I sent out a message to all Bethel Faculty who have won the Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching to ask if they would participate agree to an interview.  This is humbling because my project relies on their cooperation and partnership.  There is no project without them and in many ways I am at the mercy of their generosity.  For my second task I booked a big classroom for 7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm to debut my film.  Now I have created for myself the urgency that comes with having other people involved and with a public deadline to meet.

“The hardest page to write is the first page, and the hardest sentence to write is the first sentence.”

My my sake, I hope I’m right.

The Significance of Public Memory

Yesterday Prof. Gehrz joined Art professors Michelle Westmark Wingard and Ken Steinbach for a conversation about memorials and monuments moderated by Bethel digital librarian Kent Gerber. Entitled “The Significance of Public Memory,” it covered everything from debates over Confederate memorials and the memory of the U.S.-Dakota War to examples of European memorials from our World War I trip (coming again in January 2019).

You can watch it at YouTube:

How #Reformation500 Is Being Marked in the Twin Cities

We’re now just ten days away from the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church. Whether or not that’s actually what happened, or when, Oct. 31st, 2017 is being marked around the world as a moment to remember, celebrate, mourn, etc. the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther's 95 theses on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg
Luther’s theses (in Latin) are inscribed on the doors of the church in Wittenberg – Creative Commons (A. Savin)

So what’s happening around the Twin Cities for #Reformation500? A partial list of events: (not including Prof. Gehrz’s ongoing adult Sunday School class on “The Reformation at 500,” concluding tomorrow and Oct. 29, 10am, at Calvary Church in Roseville)

Concordia university st. paul

Next weekend our neighbors to the south will host a variety of events, including a festival worship service Sunday afternoon that features drama, music, dance, and a sermon by the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (Gangelhoff Center, 4pm, Oct. 29th). CUSP is also hosting a juried art show (“Reformation Reformed”) and an archival display (“Pen & Ink: Tools of Reform”) until November 14th.

Luther seminary Reformation festival

Next Friday and Saturday, St. Paul’s ELCA seminary will host a series of workshops and presentations by theologians and musicians. (Registration required) In addition, on Friday evening the National Lutheran Choir will debut a mass commissioned for the anniversary (Basilica of St. Mary, 7pm), and the following afternoon Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis will host a special worship service (4pm).

Other Musical Celebrations

November 2-4 the Minnesota Orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony, Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, and the world premiere of American composer Sebastian Currier’s Re-formation. Mendelssohn’s work will also be featured in a free concert by the East Metro Symphony Orchestra next Sunday (King of Kings Lutheran, Woodbury, 3pm). That same afternoon, St. Paul’s Reformation Lutheran Church will host a Reformation liturgy featuring Cantata Vespers (4pm).

“martin luther on triaL”

On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12th, Mt. Olivet Lutheran will host the debut of an original play that puts Martin Luther on trial for the complicated legacies of the Reformation (2pm, Pantages Theatre).

Now Available from Prof. Gehrz: The Pietist Option

Congratulations to Prof. Chris Gehrz, whose new book with Evangelical Covenant pastor Mark Pattie came out today!

Gehrz & Pattie, The Pietist OptionThe Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity (InterVarsity Press) is a 21st century version of a 1675 book that launched the German Pietist movement. While it borrows from the history of Pietism, it addresses present-day concerns. In his endorsement, Bethel president Jay Barnes says that Gehrz and Pattie “help us see how Christ-followers in past centuries faced challenging issues in ways that are relevant to current events… The Pietist Option has wisdom for the church, the academy, and the neighborhood. I’m thankful for this resource.” Messiah College history professor John Fea (author, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?) agrees: “In an age in which the church is badly divided by politics and culture wars, The Pietist Option offers a better way. Chris Gehrz and Mark Pattie invite us to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage defined by loving our neighbors, living in hope, and listening to God. It is indeed time to reconsider the Pietist roots of American evangelicalism.”

All are invited to a book launch party for The Pietist Option — Tuesday, October 10th, 7pm at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN. The authors will read excerpts and sign copies of the book.

Prof. Gehrz previously edited The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Persons (also InterVarsity Press) and The Pietist Impulse in Christianity (Pickwick). His next project is a spiritual biography of Charles A. Lindbergh, under contract with Eerdmans Publishing.

Recording the Stories of Students of Color at Bethel University

During the Spring of 2014, Bethel’s Associate Dean of Intercultural Student Programs & Services Leah Fulton and I were talking about ways that we could share stories of students of color at Bethel.  She came up with the idea of filming interviews with students of color who where about to graduate.

We sent out a call to all of the graduating students of color at Bethel to see if anyone would be willing to sit down for an interview and ended up having six students agree to individual interviews. It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with these students as they shared their stories.  That summer we edited these individual interviews in an 88-minute film which intercut their stories.

In subsequent years, Leah and I continued to interview students and to record their stories.  When Leah Fulton left her position in Student Life to pursue further graduate study, Priscilla Kibler stepped into her role, and we continued on with the project.

In the Spring of 2017, we had ten students agree to sit down for interviews.  Then in the Summer of 2017, we edited these interviews into a 79-minute film.

As someone who has spent half of my life in the Bethel community, these films can be hard to watch. I am deeply moved by the honesty of these students. What they have to say is very important.  When we started this project, our goal was to collect student stories to be able to share them with other students, faculty, and administration.  I feel like I have learned a great deal from these students about their experiences and the experiences of other students of color at Bethel.

As an historian, these videos represent the types of projects that are closest to my heart.  I love the idea of creating an outlet for people to leave a record of their stories.  I love being able to find ways to share these stories with the Bethel community. I also have hope in the possibility that these interviews and the interviews that we film in the future will serve as a primary source for future historians of this institution.

Faculty Excellence Award for Service: Sam Mulberry

It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so clearly the end of summer is in sight.  Fall semester classes begin Monday.  That means that this week faculty have been busy putting the final touches on course syllabi, preparing to meet new students, arranging calendars to accommodate a full slate of meetings and other obligations, and attending faculty retreat. Phew.

Faculty retreat isn’t necessarily everyone’s summer highlight, but it is the event where we have a chance to honor a trio of outstanding colleagues in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.  This year, Sam Mulberry received the Faculty Excellence Award for Service.

Sam Mulberry receiving the Faculty Excellence Award for Service from Ruth Nelson.  (Faculty Retreat, 22 August 2017) Note the standing ovation!

Ruth Nelson, who serves as Co-Director of the Academic Enrichment and Support Center with Sam, led the nomination effort.  Because Sam’s service to Bethel is so multifaceted, however, a variety of folks including Christianity and Western Culture colleagues, Patrice Conrath (advising), and Kent Gerber (library) joined Ruth to help provide a glimpse of all that Sam does for this university.  Together, these colleagues spoke of how Sam “produces innovative media that enhance student learning,” “builds community and mentors students,” “provides presence, voice and actions to support multiple committees and task forces,” and “pursues programs and practices that support student success.”

Former students, too, spoke of Sam’s impact on their lives:

“Sam Mulberry’s support and encouragement for his T.A.’s was never in question. From my first weekly planning meeting as a teacher’s assistant for Christianity and Western Culture, I was already caught up in the infectious laughs and sincere discussion of fellow T.A.’s and Professor Mulberry. Opening up his home to T.A.’s for team development and bonding, providing himself as a main contact we could access for academic concerns – all the while insisting we call him “Sam” – Professor Mulberry’s personal devotion to creating a unique and cohesive community for teacher’s assistants proved to be a great success. In an unsure time of all undergraduate students’ lives, when we easily felt weighed down by concerns of the future and insecurities of the present, Sam drew out and uplifted our skills and characters.

…Oftentimes there is a distinction between teachers who have a passion for their content and teachers who love their students. Professor Mulberry fits the mold of both, displaying his deep dedication to the discipline of history while continuing to enrich the lives of students through authentic relationship-building.”

Sam is extraordinary.  He is truly ecumenical in his service—willing to help all: students, staff, professors, administration.  Sam’s colleagues have noted that “Sam recognizes that his gifts . . . are all from the Lord and he generously gives back to see students succeed. A number of us are extremely thankful that Sam serves and works alongside us at Bethel University.”


Greetings from the Huntington

John Sloane, McSorley’s Cats (on display at the Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Gallery)

As Dr. Gehrz mentioned a few posts ago, I have been spending my time of late at the Huntington.  Located in San Marino, California, the Huntington boasts several gardens, terrific art galleries, and an incredible library.  Daily I walk past lemon, orange, fig, and kumquat trees, and the abundant jasmine and lavender infuse the smog with a hint of perfume.  Sir Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” resides here in what was once the Huntington mansion (but since 1924, a full-fledged art gallery). I definitely preferred the collection of American art at the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery, however, including John Sloane’s “McSorley’s Cats” (shown above).  Given my research interests, let’s just say that scene is fitting. The library, too, is home to several masterpieces, including some from my neighborhood’s namesake, John J. Audubon–just one example from a collection of 420,000 rare books and 7 million manuscripts.   So, if you’re still looking for summer travel ideas, the Huntington is worth a visit.

The Huntington is also a great place to research.  Summer is peak research time here, and you can find folks like me in the Ahmanson Reading Room in the Munger Research Center.  I’ve spent most of the last week and a half poring over the collection of  “Los Angeles area court records, 1850-1910” for my book, Gender and the Business of Prostitution in Los Angeles, 1850-1940.  The research has been rewarding, but in surprising ways.  The criminal records, for example, yielded a few nuggets of new information, but they mostly confirmed what I knew from extensive newspaper research.  The records dealing with property–whether in the probate or superior court–were a different story.  They painted an extraordinarily detailed picture of the everyday lives of individuals involved in the business of prostitution.  When people fight over assets, they tend to list every one of them in the court documents they file, down to the “one petrified greyhound” in the “rooms off the parlor”–what?  Digging through such inventories has made me feel like more of an archeologist than a historian, but such an experience speaks to the craft of our discipline.  History requires not only the work of uncovering the artifacts, but the skill (and discipline) of interpretation and narration.  I only hope that NE Minneapolis is as beneficial to the latter as the Huntington has been for the former.