Senior Sem Topics for Spring 2019

Joni Mitchell has a song called “A Case of You” in which she muses about the influence of another on her writing: “Part of you pours out of me/ In these lines from time to time.” We’ve just had our second meeting in Senior Seminar, and part of the class consisted of conferences with students about potential topics. As I met with them, I kept thinking about Joni Mitchell because I could see the influences of other history professors not only in their topics, but also in the ways that they talked about history–how they see the past, what kinds of sources they want to use, and later (when we came together as a class) their views about intersections of faith and the discipline. Really, this is a team-taught course. And I am thankful for all the ways my colleagues will pour out of these students in their lines, from time to time. (And thanks, specifically, to Dr. Gehrz for his editing on this post and for the links!)

Collin Barrett (History/Pre-Med): Masculinity in Medieval Clergy

I’m seeking to understand how medieval clergy defined masculinity and if that definition was distinct from the rest of their society. How did clergy understand masculinity, for example, in the context of their participation in the “bride” of Jesus Christ? Did their definitions of masculinity have an impact beyond the medieval world?

Justin Brecheisen (History/Business): The John Williams Gunnison Massacre

In 1853, the Pahvant Utes in Utah ambushed and massacred an expedition led by U.S. Army Captain John Williams Gunnison. According to rumors, Mormon authorities—a group with whom Gunnison had interacted and written about—instigated the massacre. I am interested in exploring how this massacre reflects the relationship among the United States government, the Mormon authorities, and the Utes.

Phia Carlson (History): U.S. Reception to the Romanov Executions

The Romanov Dynasty was the final imperial family to rule over Russia. Myths and legends swirl regarding the final days of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and I am interested in what contributed to the family becoming the subject of much fantastical speculation. What, for example, did the newspapers like the New York Times have to say about the family’s final days?

Nicholas II and his family in 1913
The Romanovs in 1913 – Wikimedia
Caitlan Hart (History/Elementary Education): Women’s Roles in Classical Sparta and Athens

Although women were second-class citizens in both classical Athens and Sparta, there are distinctions in how the women lived in these two places. I am interested in how these roles and views on women varied based upon whether they lived. What factors contributed to these differences?

Kyle Kilgore (History): Racial Justice and the NFL

As an athlete, I have experienced first-hand how sports has the ability to draw people together. Yet, as the recent protests by players in the National Football League have highlighted, sports can also provide an important venue to express a desire to see greater racial justice. What is the history of race in the NFL?

Zach Meinerts (History/Political Science): Lynching in the Post-Reconstruction South

Potentially using the debates in the Congressional Record in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century over the implementation of a federal anti-lynching law, this project would delve into history of lynching in the United States. If possible, the paper would explore both the sexual and religious connotations of lynching during this period.

Nelson Menjivar Lopez (History): El Salvador’s Civil War

The Salvadoran Civil War lasted for over a decade. Murders, abductions, and U.S. involvement in the conflict tore the country apart. While some fled the war for the United States, others remained in the country to witness the brutality on both sides. Using interviews with family and friends who were directly involved in the war, my project will show that the ramifications of this conflict can still be seen in both politics and daily life.

Logan Olson (History/Political Science): Native American Involvement in the U. S. Civil War

Although much historical attention has focused on the key battles and key figures in the U.S. Civil War, the story of Native American involvement can get left out. My research examines the role of Native Americans in this conflict and how their involvement impacted their relationship with the U.S. government in the post-war period.

Haley Shearer (Art History): Dime Museums and Vaudeville

Dime museums, often part of traveling vaudeville acts, tended to be popular forms of entertainment for working-class people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One of the ways these museums differentiated themselves from “institutionalized museums” tended to be in their efforts to both educate and entertain the masses. In addition to P. T. Barnum, who were the people associated with these museums? What kind of “education” was “entertaining” to the masses and why?

1899 cartoon on dime museums
1899 cartoon ridiculing “dime museums” – Wikimedia
Luke Sherry (History/Pre-Med): Logging in Northern Wisconsin

The history of logging encompasses several possible questions. What was life like for an average lumberjack? How did logging change the ecology of both the northern woods? What was the environmental impact more generally? How did the exit of the logging camps and companies affect local communities? The digital collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society, which include twenty volumes of material of memoirs, records, journals, and explorer’s narratives, will help dictate the direction of my research.

Brendan Veary (History/Social Studies Education 5-12): Pederasty in Classical Greek Culture

Historians such as Ruth Karras and David Halperin have written extensively about the sexual culture prevailing among Greek men during the classical period. One aspect of that culture was pederasty. My project will focus on this practice and whether the Greeks were the first people not only to condone it but to integrate it into their culture.

Andrew Zwart (History/Biokinetics): Nikita Khrushchev and the Deescalation of Soviet Tension with the West

Following the death of Josef Stalin, there was a 30-year period before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. During that period, Nikita Khrushchev made some critical changes that allowed the Soviet Union to transition from Stalin’s iron fist to Gorbachev’s de-escalation of tensions with the West. I plan to look at Khrushchev how accomplished this transition without losing the complete support of the Soviet people.

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How To Follow Our Podcasts

Ever since CWC: The Radio Show debuted in the summer of 2006, AC 2nd has  been a hub for podcasting at Bethel. History and Political Science faculty collaborate on several current podcasts, including:

• Election Shock Therapy: Political scientists Chris Moore, Andy Bramsen, and Mitchell Krumm analyze current events in American and international politics — and sometimes the politics of fictional worlds like Middle Earth and the Star Wars universe.

• The 252: An ongoing preview of our upcoming sports history class (HIS252L), featuring Chris Moore and our own Chris Gehrz and Sam Mulberry.

The Live from AC2nd Facebook page

• Nothing Rhymes With GehrzProfs. Mulberry and Gehrz talk about six words — which have nothing in common except that they don’t rhyme with our European historian’s rather unique last name.

• The Pietist Schoolman PodcastAnother Gehrz/Mulberry effort, named after the former’s personal blog, each of the four seasons of the PSP has had a different focus. The most recent previewed the four stages of our department’s World War I travel course, with a special “live” episode from Paris recorded in J-term.

• Amy Makes Us Try StuffOn hiatus for the moment, as Prof. Poppinga enjoys her sabbatical, this podcast is exactly what the title says — she tasks Profs. Moore and Mulberry with trying TV shows, restaurants, etc., then they report back on the experience.

• Live from AC2nd: An occasional series of roundtable discussions featuring Profs. Mulberry, Moore, Poppinga, and other Bethel professors, the most recent episode had psychologist Sherryse Corrow, physicist Nathan Lindquist, and economist Tim Essenburg talking about beauty.

You can find all these podcasts on the Live from AC2nd network, which can be found at Podbean, iTunes, and Facebook. The network’s new Facebook page also includes links that follow up on or preview new episodes.

Three More Books to Read for Black History Month

Earlier this week at The Anxious Bench, I mentioned five books that I’m planning to read for Black History Month: biographies of Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson, plus a study of Catholic civil rights activism in Chicago, an analysis of the impact of the black church on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Jemar Tisby’s widely-acclaimed history of Christian complicity in racism.

But I’m no expert, so I appreciate that Dr. Kooistra (here at AC 2nd) and Dr. Magnuson (at our Facebook page) have also shared resources related to African American history. And today, I’m happy to welcome back our colleague Ruben Rivera, Bethel’s chief diversity officer and the instructor of our Minorities in America class, who recommended three more books to read this month.


Audio book of Rankine, CitizenClaudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014)

There are numerous books about the African American experience in a racialized USA. What I like about Rankine’s is that, with the exception of a few pieces in it, the highly personal experiences are conveyed in the form of vivid short prose poems. I have often been asked what microaggressions are. Still others believe the term was invented by liberals. Read Rankin’s book and you’ll know what microaggressions are and that they are very real.

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (Balzer & Bray, 2017)

The Hate U Give is a young adult novel that has been adapted for a major motion picture by the same name. It deals with ripped-from-headlines issues: racial profiling; policing in communities of color; and most explosively, the killing of unarmed black men by white officers.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015)

This book comes in the form of a letter to his son Samori in the context of the need to make sense of recent killings of black men by police. Very well written, thoughtful, moving, and certain to stimulate questions about what it means to live in a black body in America.

– Dr. Ruben Rivera

Upcoming Career Development Events

February is always a busy month at Bethel’s Career Development and Calling office, with the following events available to students:

The Art of Conversation (Tu 2/12, 6:45pm, The Underground)

A new event letting up to 100 students practice their networking skills with professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Pre-register by Feb. 11.

Resume Workshop (Th 2/14, 10:15am, AC 228)

Whether you’re preparing for the next event on this list, have interviews coming up, or just want to get some useful advice, learn how to prepare effective resumes in this free event.

Minnesota Private Colleges Job & Internship Fair (Th 2/21, 9am-2pm, Minneapolis Convention Center)

One of the biggest such events open to Bethel students, this fair draws over 2,000 students and over 250 employers. Pre-register by Feb. 18 and plan to attend a prep session. The fair itself costs $12, but Bethel will run free shuttles to and from the Convention Center.

African American History Month: Some Reading Recommendations

Harriet Jacobs (c. 1894)

The internet can be a great place to start exploring resources regarding African American History Month.  In my teaching, I return again and again to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South project, which contains a number of different collections including “North American Slave Narratives.”  While the collection features the stories of famous abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, it’s worth checking out some of the less familiar items too.  One intriguing source is Benjamin Drew’s work with “fugitive slaves in Canada.” Drew interviewed African Americans who had fled the institution of slavery first by escaping into the North, but who then abandoned the United States entirely when their freedom seemed threatened again.  Initially, many had fled bondage in the U.S. South and resettled in a northern state that prohibited slavery.  In 1850, however, the United States Congress passed a stronger Fugitive Slave Act, which “made the hunting down of escaped slaves, even in free states, fully legal.”  The already tenuous freedom of those who had escaped seemed even more so, and the people Drew interviewed had made the difficult decision to safeguard their freedom by leaving the United States entirely.  While the voices of these stories attest to the barbaric qualities inherent in the institution of slavery as practiced in the United States and its reach beyond the Mason-Dixon line, they also illuminate the tenacity and strength of the human beings fighting for their freedom.

larson.jpg
Nella Larsen

The long reach of a racially-based system of slavery as practiced in the United States is also evident in the history of “racial passing.” The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History notes that the term refers to “a crossing of a line that divides social groups.” The term “is used most frequently, however, as if it were short for ‘passing for white,’ in the sense of crossing over the color line in the United States from the black to the white side.”  As even the entry in Wikipedia outlines, the literature on the topic is vast.  My introduction to the topic came by way of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, which deals with the phenomenon in the context of early twentieth century Chicago and New York.  The manageable length of the novel, combined with the complexity of the subject, make it an ideal primary text for the classroom–or, in my case, an informal book club among friends.  For an academic treatment of the history of passing, I’d encourage folks to check out Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs’ A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.  And, if you don’t have time for the full book, check out Hobbs’ TED talk on the subject.

Finally, how about one poem?  Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B” is worth the two minutes it will take to read it.

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.

Nor do I often want to be a part of you.

But we are, that’s true!

As I learn from you,

I guess you learn from me–

although you’re older–and white–

and somewhat more free.

Previewing a New Course: The History and Politics of Sports

I’m excited to meet new classes this week, but even as they get underway, I can’t help but look ahead to Spring 2020 and a new course I’ll be teaching with Political Science professor Chris Moore: HIS/POS252L History and Politics of Sports.

1917 Bethel women's basketball team
The 1917 women’s basketball squad at then-Bethel Academy – Creative Commons (Bethel Digital Library)

As I explained last week at my own blog, I’ve wanted to create a baseball history course almost as long as I’ve been at Bethel. But while HIS252L will surely have a lot to say about my favorite sport, I’m glad that we’ve instead developed a course with a wider focus… and that I’ll be sharing it with Chris, a specialist in international relations who won the 2018 Bethel faculty excellence award for teaching. We’re not just fans ourselves, but scholars who think that studying sports can help our students ask fundamental questions about community, identity, purpose, and justice, by taking a different perspective on American and international history.

As you can see in the draft syllabus above, we’ve divided the course along the lines of a football or basketball game. After a warm-up week in which we’ll think about why we follow or play sports and how we approach the topic as scholars, we’ll survey the history of a few specific sports, then conclude our first half with deeper dives into topics like race, gender, labor, and business. Halftime will let us pause to consider various Christian perspectives on sports, then the third quarter will take us into the realm of international relations (with a focus on the Olympic Games). After the fourth quarter looks at emerging topics like e-sports and performance enhancement, we’ll conclude with a field trip to Target Field or Target Center, with students researching a “day in the life” of the Twins or Lynx franchises.

To help Chris and me think through the course before we teach it, our colleague Sam Mulberry is joining us this semester for a new weekly podcast, The 252Last week’s debut previewed the Super Bowl and looked back at the history of the NFL. In today’s episode, we turned the focus on ourselves: why we play and follow sports, and what we love about them. Next week we’ll be joined by our first guest: Dr. Art Remillard of Saint Francis University, an expert on religion and sports.

Welcome Back to Bethel, Prof. Annie Berglund!

When HIS205U History of China, Korea, and Japan meets for the first time tonight, its professor will be making a return to our department: Annie Berglund graduated summa cum laude from Bethel in 2013 with a double-major in History and Social Studies Education. After teaching middle school for two years, Annie moved to Seoul in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in international studies at Korea University. This fall she came back to Bethel as an adjunct instructor in GES130 Christianity and Western Culture, and is eager to teach her first History course this spring. Thanks to Annie for taking the time to answer some questions about her journey away from and back to Bethel!


Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the History Department as a student?

Let me set the scene. It’s the last history presentation of my entire undergraduate career. I labored for months making my PowerPoint slides and adding in many hours of research so that I could be prepared for the audience of my peers, my professors, and my family members. My boyfriend at the time, Mike, had one task: feed me this easy question at the end of my presentation to help me look better. Being one of the quietest students in class, he very slowly and mechanically raised his hand the second I ended the presentation.

“Yes, Mike?”

In a painfully monotonous, rehearsed voice, he responded: “What was one interesting news article you read for your paper?”

The front row full of history professors couldn’t hide their laughter as they clearly saw through Mike’s poor acting and my pathetic scheming. Don’t worry, it does end well. We both managed to graduate and even married each other.

Annie Berglund and Mike Vangstad in Japan
Annie Berglund ’13 and Mike Vangstad ’13 in Japan’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – photos courtesy Annie Berglund

How did you decide to go to graduate school in Korea?

People ask me this question a lot: Why Korea? Every time I give an answer, it’s a little different, as there were so many factors that drew me to Seoul. Chief among them was my plan to study South Korea’s asylum-seeking policies. They are the first country in Asia to establish their own stand-alone refugee act outside of simply following UNHCR mandates. I hoped to study their recent act to see what loopholes remain and how those inconsistencies affected the acceptance of particular subgroups of asylum seekers, from those suffering from religious persecution to those fleeing state-backed gender- and sexuality-based violence.

A less academic answer, though? I wanted a little adventure.

What was your favorite part of living in Seoul?

Annie Berglund in SeoulA unique part about living abroad is that, whether you’re currently in your home country or currently abroad, you tend to see the other location through rose-tinted glasses. My gut answer is: “Everything! Everything about Seoul is my favorite!” In reality, adjusting to life in a country where I had few contacts, where the dominant language is one of the hardest for native English speakers to learn, and where everything from transportation to housing has different, unspoken rules is no easy task. But I also like a good challenge! I miss the feeling of anonymity when walking through downtown streets of a city of 10 million people. I miss jumping into taxis and making small talk in Korean with the ajeossis as they take me from cat cafes to outdoor shopping districts to mountain hiking trails. Mostly, I miss my Korean friends who – for two years! – constantly bent over backwards to help their American friend with the smallest and largest of tasks. True heroes in my book.

What’s it been like coming back to Bethel as a professor?

Amazing and terrifying. I will never get over calling my professors by their first names. Ever.

What are you most looking forward to teaching in HIS205U this spring?

First, I’m excited to discuss the role that women played throughout East Asian history. From the Roman patrician women who ushered in the Silk Road trade routes by driving the demand for silk made by seamstresses in far-off Xi’an, to the impassioned speech by Madame Chiang Kai-shek to the U.S. Congress seeking aid during Japanese attacks on China in World War II, we will study many cases of extraordinary women who — some for better and some for worse — influenced the narrative of East Asian civilization.

Second, I have that nervous-excited feeling about showing one of my favorite films to my students. Made in 2017, A Taxi Driver (or Taeksi woonjunsa) is one of the highest grossing films in South Korea to date. It centers on the experience of an average, “Joe Schmo” taxi driver in Seoul who unintentionally smuggles a German reporter into the city of Gwangju in 1980. The city, a stronghold for students protesting martial law, was barred off to the outside world while government troops fired upon the Chonnam University youth. For the world to see the footage of this massacre, the taxi driver and reporter risked their lives to get back to Seoul. The Gwangju Uprising (or the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement) is a jarring, brutal event that illustrates the price many ordinary people paid in East Asia for the sake of democratization.

What’s Happening This Spring in Bethel’s History Department?

This morning marks the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester at Bethel. What’s happening this spring in the History Department?

• Dr. Poppinga is taking a well-earned sabbatical, as Dr. Kooistra returns from her fall away from Bethel.

• We have our largest enrollments ever in both Intro to History (30 students joining Dr. Magnuson) and Intro to the Digital Humanities (20 with Dr. Goldberg). We’ve also got full houses in American CivilizationWorld War II, Human Rights in International History, and History of China, Korea, and Japan.

• Eleven students will be completing their History majors in Senior Seminar with Dr. Kooistra. Look for them to present their capstone research projects in May.

• Those seniors will also be participating in the 2019 edition of the Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, coming back to Bethel on Saturday, April 27.

• A recent alumna is returning to the department to teach HIS205U History of China, Korea, and Japan. We’ll introduce her tomorrow…

• And Profs. Gehrz and Mulberry roll out their newest media project, joining with Dr. Chris Moore (Political Science) on a podcast that previews a new course coming in Spring 2020. Learn more this Wednesday…

Upcoming Royal Nation Events

Bethel’s Royal Nation series of alumni gatherings continues this winter and spring.

Here are your next chances to connect with fellow former graduates and hear from Bethel president Jay Barnes: (click through to register)

Phoenix, AZ– Feb. 8, 6pm

Los Angeles, CA– Feb. 23, 6pm

Naples, FL – March 21, 6pm

Orlando, FL – March 22, 6pm

Bethel Seeking a New American Politics Professor

Some important news from our neighbors in the Political Science department… Prof. Krumm has decided to accept another job in order to be closer to family, so the department is currently hiring for a full-time, tenure-track position, to start this August. In addition to teaching courses in American politics and the general education curriculum, “[i]deal candidates will also demonstrate teaching and scholarly interest in political theory and/or political methodology. The ability to provide leadership for Pre-law advising is especially important.”

Interested candidates can find full details and a link to Bethel’s job application at this link. Contact Dr. Chris Moore, department chair, with any questions.