Month: May 2020

A Message from the Chair of the History Department to Majors in the Class of 2020

Professor Dubrulle (lower right) poses with most of his suitemates shortly after they graduated from Pomona College.

Professor Hugh Dubrulle, chair of the History Department, sent the following message to the majors in that department who will graduate this year.


Dear History majors in the Class of 2020,

Every year at the senior dinner, the department chair makes a few remarks to the graduands majoring in History and American Studies. The chair usually issues a few pleasantries, tells the students how much the department will miss them, asks them to stay in touch, and reminds them that in the future the faculty stands ready to help them in any way possible. In other words, once a history major at Saint Anselm College, always a history major.

This year, of course, we’ve had to cancel the dinner in the same way that we’ve had to cancel so many other things. I realize that anything I write online is a poor substitute for a senior dinner where you can socialize with your favorite professors and fellow seniors. But I’d feel negligent if I didn’t issue a heartfelt farewell of some sort to the history majors from the Class of 2020.

Long ago, I received my BA in History from Pomona College. There are three things that every alum of that college shares: a mystical reverence for the number 47; a perverse pride in our mascot, Cecil Sagehen (alums frequently punctuate observations on social media with “Chirp! Chirp!”); and a clear recollection of the inscriptions on the college gates that flank North College Avenue. My attitude to each element of this triad varies. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of the “Mystery of 47” which is fatuous, and I die a little when yet another alum posts on the Facebook alumni page, “Hey, I was at the meat counter in the supermarket, and I got ticket number 47!” As for Cecil Sagehen, he’s certainly distinct if a bit ridiculous. Of the three, it’s the inscriptions on the gates that seem most worthy of attention (and by the way, these gates—surprise, surprise—are far smaller than the ones at Saint Anselm College).

One side of Pomona College’s gates at the intersection of North College Ave. and 6th St. (ca. 1930).

The gates were erected in 1914 when James A. Blaisdell was the college president, and he provided the text for the inscriptions. On one gate is written:

Let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here.

On the other, the inscription reads:

They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.

Years later, Blaisdell admitted to one of his successors that the first quote was “a trifle too prohibitive,” and that he should have left out the word “only.” That was a good insight. I know that when I first marched through the gates as an 18 year old (a rite of passage that all freshmen endure) I was certainly eager (perhaps in the wrong ways), moderately thoughtful on a good day, but not at all reverent. Blaisdell felt much less ambivalence about the second quote, claiming it was “exactly as I still would wish it.” It’s this latter inscription that I’d like you to keep in mind.

I know I speak for every professor in the History Department when I write that, at some point, we made a pledge to study history. Perhaps our attraction to the discipline began because we found it entertaining and engaging. But as we got older, we began to see that history is interesting. When I write “interesting,” I use it in the same sense as John Robert Seeley, author of The Expansion of England (1883), perhaps the most influential history book written in English during the 19th century. When he employed that word, Seeley did not signify “romantic, poetical, and surprising.” Instead, he meant something that “affects our interests, which closely concerns us and is deeply important to us.” History, he intimated, provides special insights into the past, the present, and the relationship between the two.

History is truly interesting because it helps us recognize the degree to which we are surrounded and thus limited by the past. As the text on the department website asserts (and we must thank Professor Pajakowski for these lines), “We live in the shadow of the thoughts and actions of those who lived before us. To ignore this legacy is to live a sort of collective amnesia.” However, studying history also includes realizing that we are not imprisoned by the acts of previous generations; by studying past societies we can understand values that differ from our own and imagine alternatives to the world in which we live. This immersion in the experiences of the past (as well as the methods we use to interpret that past) enhances one’s judgment of people, places, and things today.

Having made our pledge, it was with these riches that we left college and later graduate school. We thought they were so important that we decided to become academic historians and devoted our professional lives to sharing them with others. You must have found history significant because you also devoted much of your time here over four years to this discipline. Now that you are graduating, we ask you to do as we did—to bear your added riches as a trust for the people you will serve in your own careers.

If you majored in Secondary Education and are bound for a job teaching history in high school, this responsibility should be fairly clear. But even if you are not going to be a teacher, there are still important ways you can bear this trust in service to your country, your work, and your community.

The foregoing probably sounds portentous. After all, I’ve taken my keynote from an inscription that appears on a gate, and such inscriptions are invariably solemn and pompous. And I’ve made the study of history sound like a sacred inheritance passed from one generation to the next (which, if you were paying attention in some of my classes, will remind you of Edmund Burke’s arguments in Reflections on the Revolution in France). Still, the ideas expressed in Blaisdell’s quote are no less true for all that.

After all, take a look around you. Is the world doing so well these days that it has no need of the historical understanding as well as the analytical and expository skills you obtained in college? Can it really dispense with the riches you acquired during your four years?

Although the department chair repeats the following sentiments every year at the senior dinner, they are still sincere. The department will miss you, and we ask that you stay in touch. We will always be happy to hear from you. If you drop by, even in the midst of a busy day, we will make time to speak to you because it gives us joy. If you need references or any other assistance, do not hesitate to call on us because we are happy to help. After all, we share a common understanding that history, as Seeley put it, is interesting; we are all in this together.

Best wishes,

HD

Senior Profile–Tyler V.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors.

Tyler

Today’s featured student is Tyler V. from Pelham, New Hampshire. Tyler is a History Major with Minors in Political Theory and German.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Hiking, Camping, most things outdoor, Reading, watching sports (specifically hockey)

Why did you become a history major?
I was always interested in history for as long as I remember, which I owe to Grandparents and Great-grandparents who told stories about family history and brought me to museums. One of my earliest memories is going to the USS Constitution with my Great-Grandparents. These events really inspired me to read almost anything history. Studying history in college, then, only seemed natural.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Ashes and Diamonds from Eastern Europe in the 20th Century. Although fictitious, the book painted a powerful picture of communist Poland in the aftermath of WWII.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
There are numerous memories I have, ranging from memorable Paj-isms to works of Soviet art such as Pass me a Brick. Reading about the South Pacific during the post-World War II and early Cold War era for my research project was also memorable due to the strange stories arising from a confusing political situation. For example, the British, Americans, and Australians teamed up with the Imperial Japanese Army in Indonesia to restore Dutch rule.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
David Livingstone. I hadn’t heard of him before Prof. Dubrulle’s British Empire course. I found his story intriguing because he was for the most part unremarkable and a failure until he decided to just become an explorer, which he turned out to be rather good at.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
This is a tough question. I frankly enjoy more modern things like plumbing, effective medicine, and not being a peasant so that rules out a lot of periods. Though I would be intrigued to witness the North America frontiers, the Plains/Prairies region of the US and Canada or perhaps even Alaska/Yukon, during the latter half of the 19th century. The frontier was viewed as an integral part of North America identity so just seeing what it actually was like would be interesting. I would also get to see a lot of the natural, albeit sometimes dangerous, beauty of the west before widespread settlement.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
With the uncertainty around the goal is to simply find a job and grow my skillset. Right now I am leaning towards a career in the public sector, but that might change as I work or as the world changes.

Senior Profile–Bobby H.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors.

Bobby

Today’s featured student is Bobby H. from Manchester, New Hampshire. Bobby is a History and German double major.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Watching sports, playing video games, exercising.

Why did you become a history major?
I’ve always been interested in it and I excelled in the subject matter in high school. One of the main reasons I became a history major was because I wanted to go to law school, and history is one of the recommended majors. They also recommend a second language, hence German.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
One books that stands out to me is Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder. I just found it to be a really compelling read. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century are kind of my thing, so this book was mesh of the two most famous of those regimes.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
One fond memory I have as a history major is presenting my thesis. I was really nervous before hand, but it went perfectly. That’s something that happens whenever I present: I’m always nervous, but I quickly turn on “playoff mode” and usually do well.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
My favorite figure that I learned about was Otto von Bismarck. I think it’s cool that one man through the machinations of planning basically founded and ran the German Empire for the time he was in charge as chancellor.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
If I could live in a time and place, I would choose late Wilhelmine Germany (1890-1914), just before things went really bad.  I think I like imperial Germany so much because all things considered, it was a pretty successful state.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I actually accepted a job today to work at RiverStone Resources, a reinsurance company in Manchester.  I’ve interned there for four years, and it’s a great opportunity. Reinsurance companies do great in times of economic hardship, so I am set. Long term though, I plan to attend law school.

Senior Profile–Brendan D.

Today’s featured student is Brendan D. from Waltham, Massachusetts. Brendan is a History Major and Philosophy Minor.

Brendan

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Street hockey, rollerblading, listening to music, trying to become fluent in French (emphasis on trying).

Why did you become a history major?
Though I came in undeclared, I had always had a passion for history. After poking around a few core curriculum classes, it was obvious to me that I had to continue studying what I cared about.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
I had one book from American Women’s History with Professor Salerno called The Myth of Seneca Falls, by Lisa Tetrault. Not only did the book try to correct one of my biggest misconceptions regarding women’s history, but we actually had the author come into class to expand more on her research and ideas. It was an awesome experience and a great book.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
I’ll always remember when Professor Dubrulle won the teacher of the year award at Commencement last year. I was serving as a marshal, so I had a great seat. It made me feel really proud to be part of the department and I think it was an award that reflected everyone’s hard work very well.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
The most intriguing historical figure that I learned about was Stokely Carmichael. I had hardly known about his impact on the Civil Rights Movement and was increasingly interested in his doings the more I heard about him.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
Easily the 1960s. I would love the chance to see the Kennedy era (Jack and Bobby) unfold before my very eyes.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I’m hoping to use my experience from my time on the Hilltop to either get involved in college Admissions or work my way into the non-profit sphere of work!

Senior Profile–Anthony G.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

Anthony

Today’s featured student is Anthony G. from Reading, Massachusetts. Anthony is a History and Secondary Education double major.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Running.

Why did you become a history major?
For as long as I can remember I have had a love for history. Some of my fondest childhood memories were going to bookstores or the public library with my parents to sift through the shelves, reading about all the fascinating events and people of our past. Before I even stepped foot in a history class my interest in the subject was alive and well, so choosing that as a major was a no-brainer.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
The last history course I took at Saint Anselm, History of New England with Professor Salerno, had a required book titled “Images of New England” by Joseph Conforti. This book did a tremendous job of identifying and elaborating upon the imagery of this region, things that I had previously only taken at face-value. I now think back to this book and class when I drive by an old New England stone wall or Congregational Church by a town green and appreciate the historical context.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
When they brought a cotton candy machine onto campus during the spring of my sophomore year, Professor Pajakowski along with the rest of my Modern Germany class indulged in some as Pajakowski continued to lecture as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
Walter Gropius, who founded the Bauhaus school of architecture. It was fascinating to learn that this style of architecture, developed just after World War I, had such a large impact on the style of skyscrapers that we see in major American cities today.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
Timbuktu during the height of the Songhai Empire (studied in Understanding Jihad in West Africa with Professor Hardin). The city became a bustling crossroads of culture, education, and commerce and would have been fascinating to witness.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I hope to teach high school social studies after graduating and receiving my teaching certification. I have had a great student teaching experience and know I will carry the great experiences and information provided by the Saint Anselm history department into wherever my career takes me.

Senior Profile–Nick M.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

Nick

Today’s featured student is Nick Meissner from Seabrook, New Hampshire. Nick is a History and International Relations double major.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
I enjoy going on hikes, working out at the gym, running, traveling, reading, cooking breakfast, and playing the piano.

Why did you become a history major?
I have always been interested in history since high school. My favorite aspect about history as an academic study is the diversity of it; you could be studying a specific year in a specific country and realize how many other events occurred that same time elsewhere – or perhaps how one event can lead to many others. There’s never a limit to what you can learn in history.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
One book that I will always remember is To Live by Yu Hua. I read it for Modern China with Professor Masur. It is a historical fiction novel about the life of a farmer named Fugui from China. He and his family experienced dramatic changes among themselves throughout the twentieth century including the Communist takeover in 1949, the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, and the Cultural Revolution in 1960s. The son of a landlord who lost it all, Fugui ended up an honest and caring peasant. Despite all the pain and hardship he endured, Fugui harbors no sense of “resistance” in his mind since he lives simply to live.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
A fond memory I have as a history major is when I presented my thesis in Fall 2019. After devoting months researching my topic and writing out a long essay about it, nothing felt more rewarding as I shared my most important findings to an audience at the student center. My thesis topic was the United States’ involvement in the counterinsurgencies during the Guatemalan Civil War in the 1960s.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
Perhaps the most intriguing historical figure I learned about – and that I didn’t know already – would be Hong Xiuquan (1814-64). We learned about Hong both in Modern China and Asian Civilizations. He was the messianic leader of the Taiping Rebellion in southern China who believed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ and who designed a pseudo-Christian religion with Chinese trappings. What made him stand out for me was how close the Taiping rebels were in overthrowing one of the world’s most powerful imperial dynasties. What is noteworthy about Hong’s story is, after the Taiping’s defeat by the Qing Dynasty, the emperor had most records about him and his movement destroyed. As a result, there isn’t a lot of contemporary information about the man who nearly reversed centuries of imperial rule.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
I would live in Meiji Japan during the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. It would have been eye-opening to witness the rapid industrialization and Western-styled modernization that transformed Japan from a series of feudal domains to a centralized parliamentary state recognized by the rest of the world. Moreover, one would have certainly viewed the growth of Japan’s empire that made it the first outside Europe to do so.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
My plan is to attend graduate school for Foreign Policy next spring, and in the meantime find a part-time job teaching nearby as specialist in history.

Senior Profile–Matthew B.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

Matthew

Today’s featured student is Matthew B. 

Why did you become a history major?
I’m a history major because history has fascinated me since I was a kid. My dad is also interested in History.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
A book that will stick with me would be Village Life in Tsarist Russia by Olga Semyonova Tian-Shanskaia.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
A fond memory that I have is reading the graphic and megalomaniacal royal inscriptions of Sennacherib, king of Assyria.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
An intriguing historical figure would be Catalina de Erauso, a lesbian cross-dressing nun who travelled around 17th century Spain and Latin America gambling, womanizing, and killing people.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
I would like to live in the Neo-Assyrian empire in early 7th century BCE. I would work as temple priest and live in a Ziggurat. There I would collect tribute, sacrifice goats, and observe the heavens looking for signs from Assur.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I plan on being a High School teacher after graduation. If that doesn’t work out I plan on being a professional unemployed person.

Senior Profile–William C.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

William

Today’s featured student is William C.

Why did you become a history major?
I became a history major because I wanted to know why things unfolded the way they did and I wanted to learn about the “little people” in history.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
One book that will always stick out is This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed by Charles E. Cobb Jr. It showed a whole different side to the civil rights movement.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
I will always remember the relief of having our senior comps waived.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
The most interesting historical figure I learned about was Chuck Berry and how he was one of the major causes of integrated crowds.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
If could live in a time and place I studied, it would be Tennessee in the 1970s. There was a lot going on in the world and a lot going on artistically as well.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
My plans for after graduation are to keep writing music and attend grad school. Hopefully pocket enough money to move out of my parents’ house.

Senior Profile–Dena M.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

Dena

Today’s featured student is Dena M. from Norfolk, Massachusetts. Dena is a History Major with Minors in Politics and American Studies. 

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Reading, cooking, and baking.

Why did you become a history major?
History was always my favorite subject in school, and I knew I wanted to spend my time learning about something I really enjoyed. Also, I knew that the skills I would learn as a history major would be useful to whatever career I chose.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
The Myth of Seneca Falls by Lisa Tetrault will always be one of my favorites because it changed how I thought about a movement I assumed I knew so much about.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
As much as the process of writing my thesis was difficult, I liked the camaraderie that formed among the other people writing theirs at the same time. We all understood what the other was going through and were willing and able to support and help each other.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
I would have to say Mary of Hungary, the woman who I wrote my thesis about. Her story has so many twists and turns, and she was so successful at what she did, I really enjoyed learning more about her.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
I think I would live in 1960s America. I would want to be able to participate in the social movements of the decade.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I am putting off having to deal with the bad economy for another three years because I am going to law school.

Senior Profile–Breda H.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors. 

Breda

Today’s featured student is Breda H. from Londonderry, New Hampshire. Breda is a History and Secondary Education double major.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Playing lacrosse, hanging out with my friends, and going to the beach.

Why did you become a history major?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and history was something I have always been passionate about. I was lucky enough to find a profession that combined these two interests.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
One history book that I will always remember is God’s Forever Family from Professor Moore’s Contemporary America class. I did not know anything about the Jesus Movement before reading this book. I found it very interesting to learn about the impacts these people had on not only religion, but also music and American culture.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
I loved being about to walk through the third floor of Joseph and seeing everyone’s doors open and happy to see you. I could go into any professor’s office and felt welcomed. They all truly cared about us in and outside the classroom.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
In Professor Dubrulle’s Civil War class we discussed the role of soldiers from Claremont, NH in great length. I honestly had never heard of anyone from that region before and it was interesting to learn about New Hampshire’s impact on the Civil War.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
If I could live in any time or place that I studied I would choose the 1950-1960s in the United States. I have always found that part of history interesting because of everything that was going on in not only America but, also the rest of the world. There is always more to learn about this time period.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I am applying to high school history teaching positions in New Hampshire. (if you know of any let me know!!!)