Over the last 18 months, I have settled very happily into Juniata. I have even become used to “Juniata-speak”— I now talk about POE’s instead of majors! As a new member of the history department, my time and energy has gone mainly into developing new classes and getting to know the students. Last year, I taught several new classes, including one on genocide called Crimes Against Humanity. This semester, I am teaching a new class on women in modern Europe. In response to student requests, I am planning to teach a new class on Irish history in the Fall. When I arrived at Juniata, my colleagues encouraged me to develop classes on Africa. So far I have taught a class on southern Africa twice, and next year I will teach a new class on women in Sub-Saharan Africa. In January, I gave a paper on Maori soldiers in the First World War. Since the conference was held in Hawaii, I didn’t receive any sympathy from colleagues when I worried about meeting the deadline!
The past year has been a busy one. I had the honor of addressing Juniata's graduating seniors in the Spring (go to http://www.juniata.edu/services/jcpress/voices/index.html and scroll down a little) and an article I wrote won a modest award from the Forest History Society (go here for details: http://www.foresthistory.org/Fellowships/BlegenAward.html). I finally submitted to the University of Tennessee Press the last revisions to A Mountaineer in Motion: The Memoirs of Doctor Abraham Jobe (1817-1906). It was fun editing the memoir because Jobe led an amazing life-practicing surgeon in southern Appalachia, avowed Unionist in Confederate Tennessee, diplomat to the Chippewa in northern Minnesota, failed businessman several times over-and he wrote about it all with grace and humility. However, I'm glad to be done . . . five years after my deadline with the press! I have a new course underway this Spring semester-Early North America-and this summer, I will be working on another new course for next year-Public History. Some of that preparation will be easy to take because I will do it as the Historian-in-Residence at Glacier National Park, in Montana (http://www.nps.gov/glac/). Come on out for a visit!
What I'm doing in China!
As of now, I am halfway through a 10-month Fulbright Research Fellowship. I am doing research and writing a book on Sino-Soviet Relations and Chinese domestic transformations under Soviet tutelage (i.e. industrialization, reform of education, military, etc.) If you look at our blog from last summer, you will think that what Jingxia,the boys and I are really doing is shopping at Beijing IKEA... but keep in mind that was last summer, when we were just getting set up here! www.beijingblurbs.blogspot.com
A sabbatical is intended to allow a professor to "recharge the intellectual batteries," so to speak, and lately I have really been doing this -- catching up on scholarship on my topic from the last decade, books that I set aside as "must-reads" -- now I'm reading them! That's what sabbatical is all about!
Other activities have included co-organizing an international conference on Sino-Soviet relations in Shanghai in which yours truly spoke and worked alongside professors from Harvard, Cornell, East China Normal University, Moscow State University, and a variety of other institutions. Now that was enriching!
The batteries are getting recharged and I'm looking forward to getting back in the classroom this August!
The last year included a glorious semester of sabbatical—certainly the highlight of the year. I’ve been working on a book-length manuscript on “Medicine of the Periphery: Public Health in Yucatán, Mexico, 1870-1960.” Research took me to Washington DC (National Library of Medicine) and Mexico City (Archivo General de la Nación and Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de Salubridad y Asistencia). I had the chance to present my findings in Tucson and at Oxford University—a wonderful experience that I’d love to do again. A couple of book reviews and a contribution to a book on Health and Medicine in the Caribbean region complete my scholarly activity.
As with my colleagues, a new course (in a new department!), “United States Foreign Policy,” marks my academic year. Much of my attention has been focused on the Founders Hall Project. The last stage of that process will come this summer, when we abandon I. Harvey Brumbaugh in search of new carpets.
Finally, for the seventh year in a row, Juniata’s Muddy Runners participated in the 50-mile relay race, the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK. One of the team set a course record for old people running slowly. (We do that really well!)
The best news I can report is that I've finally found the time and inclination to teach a new course on Rome (see the accompanying story). I'm deep in the middle of co-editing a festschrift (honorary volume) for my advisor, Stephen D. White, which will appear from Ashgate Press under the title Feud, Violence and Practice, hopefully in 2010. The world of medieval studies waits in breathless anticipation (not really). I've also begun a new project, looking at the lives of St. Nicholas of Myra (yes, that's right, Santa Claus), and have a number of interesting manuscripts to read. Jim and I traveled to Morocco for 10 days last summer to look at the feasibility of a summer or exchange program in the city of Fes. It was a wonderful trip and opened up lots of possibilities!
Roman archway (2nd century AD) at Volubilis, Morocco: at least 102 degrees Farenheit...
Like my colleagues I have a new course this year, titled History of Food. As my first course with transnational coverage it poses an exciting challenge for me. Some of my time has been given to an interesting project that I have used in my Civil War and Reconstruction class called The History Engine (http://historyengine.richmond.edu/ ) which is an online, student-created database of U.S. history. Since Juniata was one of the Beta test sites for the History Engine, I presented on our experience and have co-authored a forthcoming piece to appear in Perspectives in the coming months. Along with David Sowell and David Hsiung I contributed a piece to Juniata Voices (see Hsiung's link above) and I edited the volume. While continuing to work on my book manuscript, which is due out from USC Press in early 2010, I had some smaller pieces appear in print, most notably an editorial on the anniversary of the film "Bull Durham" in Inside Higher Ed (http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/06/27/tuten). For a story about the Civil War & Reconstruction's class trip to Gettysburg, see http://www.juniata.edu/magazine/?p=106.