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Greetings from the Chair

by David Sowell


Excellence, Travel and Fun—this has been a most exciting year for the History department.

Excellence begins with the largest senior class in recent memory. We will graduate thirteen students! That is a huge number for us, and reflects the continued growth and popularity of the department. It also means thirteen senior theses and thirteen thesis advisors. We have joined the students in their work, with all the joys and pains associated with major projects.  The “History Herd” is dominated by women who have enlivened Founders with their laughter, works of crayon art, and practical jokes (a single, solitary man is not so adept at Disney coloring books.) If you walk through the hall, you will see Belle Tuten as the Beauty, Jim Tuten as the Beast, and Alison Fletcher as Cruella DeVille—where do those ideas originate? As you read this year’s Chronos, you will sense playfulness, humor, pride, and excellence; these are all characteristics of the Herd.

Our faculty continue to demonstrate their excellence. Alison Fletcher earned the 2011 Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching. Students led the campaign for the award, citing her innovative methods in the classroom, her outstanding influence as a mentor, and her theatrical persona. Whether it is in the re-enactment of the French Revolution, the close reading of primary sources, the gendered analysis of post-cards, or the demonstration of whale-bone corsets, a Fletcher course is a memorable learning experience. Congratulations Alison!

Members of the faculty have traveled in the past year—a lot! The Tutens visited France and Morocco, Dave Hsiung went to Guatemala, Doug Stiffler to China, Sowell to Canada and—the most traveled member of the department—Alison Fletcher, visited Ireland, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and Great Britain. We attended numerous conferences throughout the United States, presenting on research and as officers of various committees.

Fun continues as well. Once again our fall began with a picnic on Founder’s lawn and a rousing game of croquet. (We won’t say who won, but it was a victory cheered on by many students.) Our newest fun activity is “Hall Ball,” a raucous putt-putt golf game in the Founders hallways. Dave Hsiung, Jim Tuten and David Sowell began the game last year, but this year students have become avid participants. One of their highlights was the Meg Hall hole-in-one on her first putt!

Enjoy the pages that follow. Let us know how you are. And come back to join us in a round of hall-ball!