History majors at SUNY Plattsburgh are guided by energetic and talented professors committed to student success. Our faculty is renowned for their research — but they are, above all — teachers eager to bring their research into the classroom. Our dynamic curriculum features thematic explorations of topics in environmental history, migration, popular culture and religion, as well as regional surveys from the Renaissance to the present.
All students are invited to join our student-run History Association and to participate in unique programs like the Model Organization of American States. They are also invited to enroll in a variety of mini-courses featuring prominent guest faculty from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Sponsored by the McLellan Foundation, these courses feature local historical themes.
History Program News
Professor Jessamyn Neuhaus Publishes Book about Teaching
Professor of U.S. history and popular culture at SUNY Plattsburgh is the author of a new book on teaching and learning titled Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers. Published in 2019 as part of the West Virginia University Press series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, edited by James M. Lang, Geeky Pedagogy is an evidence-based, multidisciplinary, pragmatic guide to the process of learning and relearning how to be an effective college teacher.
Professor Neuhaus writes: “This is the first college teaching guide that encourages college faculty to embrace their inner nerd and to view themselves and their teaching work in light of contemporary discourse that celebrates increasingly diverse geek culture. I argue that many people teaching college classes, including myself, are some combination of geek, introvert, and nerd (GIN), and that numerous aspects of effective teaching and learning are shaped by characteristics many professional intellectuals/GINS share. Aspects such as the need to understand our own expert blind spots when teaching novice learners; approaching teaching as an intellectually demanding endeavor; and practicing effective communication and social interaction skills.”
In a cover blurb, historian David Arnold (Columbia Basin College) praises Geeky Pedagogy: “Every college professor should read this book. It is useful, accessible, lively, and humorous. It is not ideological or pedantic but is instead a practical guide to becoming a better professor for those of us who never desired to read a book about pedagogy.” For more information about Professor Neuhaus’ new book, visit https://geekypedagogy.com.
Professor Shemo Reports from Shanghai
For the fall of 2017, I received a Fulbright grant to accept an invitation from the Center for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society at Shanghai University to be a guest of the center and conduct research in Shanghai and other cities in China. My current project is a book on American missionary medical education for Chinese women from 1879 to 1949. Through this grant, I have been able to research in archives in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing and Guangzhou, and plan to visit the archives in Shandong in January during the last week of my grant. Equally valuable has been the chance to get to know Chinese scholars working on missionary education in China. I had the honor of being invited to give the keynote address at a conference on Christianity and modern medicine in China, where I was able to meet numerous other scholars working on missionaries and medicine. While in Shanghai, I have also given other lectures on my work and other topics. For example, I was invited to speak at a seminar discussing the year anniversary of the election of Donald Trump, where I discussed specifically the impact of refugees fleeing the United States to Canada on the North Country and local efforts to assist the refugees.
In addition to the scholarly benefits, I have had the opportunity to bring my children and give them exposure to Chinese language and culture. My twin sons, Kiernan and Rory, 17, are spending the semester studying Chinese at Shanghai University, while my daughter Meara, 7, attends an elementary school in Shanghai. Meara has not only learned a great deal of Chinese, but has also begun to play a Chinese instrument, the guzheng, or zither. We have made new friends not only from China, but from all around the world.
Astronomer Dr. David Levy gives a public presentation
On February 20, author, astronomer, and co-discoverer of the Schumacher-Levy 9 comet paid a visit to our campus. Dr. Levi met informally with students from the history department and gave a public presentation in Hudson 106: “Talk, Tunes and Text: The Night Sky in History, Literature and Music.” Levy reflected on a lifetime of searching the night sky,and encouraged the audience to see astronomy as something that belongs to everyone, professional and amateur alike. Levy, who also holds a Ph.D. in English Literature specializing in the appearance of astronomical phenomena in Shakespeare’s and other authors’ works, discussed the ways that the night sky has influenced scholars and artists across the centuries. The talk was well attended by students, faculty and community members, who were treated to slide show featuring numerous images captured by Levy over the course of his life.
Liverpool University Press Honors Mark Richard
The editors of Québec Studies have selected Mark Richard for Liverpool University Press’ 2015 Awards for Outstanding Journal Reviewers. These awards celebrate the important contribution of all of our reviewers in ensuring a consistently high quality of published work. Dr. Richard will receive a certificate acknowledging his exceptional service by contributing timely, rigorous and thoughtful peer reviews.
Alumnus Devin Lander Appointed New York State Historian
The department extends its sincerest congratulations to alumnus Devin Lander who was appointed to the post of New York State Historian by State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia. The State Historian is responsible for conducting research on state history. The State Historian is tasked with promoting collaboration, education and scholarship to ensure a greater understanding of the history of New York State. Devin has spent the last six years as Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York. Prior to that, he was Deputy Legislative Director for Assemblyman Steve Englebright, and Staff Director for the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership. Devin received his B.A. in American History from the SUNY Plattsburgh and an M.A. in Public History from the University at Albany. Congratulations Devin!
History Major Wins Chancellor’s Award
The history department extends warm congratulations to Adam Saccardi who was selected as a recipient of this year’s SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. A triple-major in history, economics and political science, Adam is also a member of the history student honors society Phi Alpha Theta, and an active member of student government. The award “honors State University of New York students who have best demonstrated and been recognized for their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives, which may include leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service or creative and performing arts.” Adam received the award from Chancellor Nancy Zimpher at a special ceremony in Albany in April.
Students Visit Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
On Sunday April 3, students from the history department and across campus made the trip to Montreal for a tour of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Founded in 1979 by a group of Holocaust survivors, it was officially opened in 2003 and serves as an important institution for teaching about the Nazi genocide and the dangers of anti-Semitism. Montreal is home to the third largest group of survivors in the world, and the Museum features a wide variety of original artifacts. The trip was sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences, the Student Association, and College Auxiliary Services, and was led by Professors Richard Schaefer, Jonathan Slater and Howard Gontovnick. In addition to touring the Museum’s permanent collection, students were able to have an extended discussion with a survivor.
Professor Jim Rice Receives 2015 Residency from the OAH
BLOOMINGTON, IN—During its annual meeting in St. Louis, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) announced that James D. Rice, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, has been selected to receive the 2015 Germany Residency at the University of Tübingen. Thanks to a generous grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the OAH is pleased to continue the Germany Residency Program in American history at the University of Tübingen. The resident scholar will offer a seminar on a U.S. history topic of his or her design. The award was announced on April 18 by OAH’s 2014–15 President Patty Limerick and 2015–16 President Jon Butler. A total of 50 recipients received 2015 OAH awards.
Professor James Lindgren in NYC
Jim Lindgren’s most recent book, “Preserving South Street Seaport” (NYU Press) was launched on April 21, 2014, at a wine-and-cheese reception sponsored by NYU Press and the South Street Seaport Museum. It was held at the museum’s historic Bowne Printing Shop, which, in 1975, was restored and reopened by Mayor Abe Beame in a live broadcast on NBC’s Today show. That same night, Lindgren spoke to an enthusiastic seaport audience packed into the famous Paris Cafe, located in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and FDR Drive. Sponsored by the New York Preservation Archive Project, the Historic Districts Council, and the New York City Landmarks Conservancy, the talk recounted the story of how the Seaport Museum saved an 11-block historic district from the wrecking ball, grew to become New York City’s largest historical society and “America’s National Maritime Museum,” but now faces a life-or-death struggle against commercial developers who want its valuable property. For Lindgren’s melding of historian and preservationist, see http://nypost.com/2014/04/19/why-nyc-must-save-the-south-street-seaport/.
History Major Interns at Gettysburg
As an intern at the Cultural Resource Management Department at Gettysburg National Military Park, I see how professionals of various backgrounds work together to achieve their mission. That mission is to protect, preserve, and interpret. The National Park Service employs people from different backgrounds who work together to ensure that visitors have a pleasant experience. Above all, I am learning how history is used in practical ways. Construction projects or events at a National Park are assessed for potential damage of the park’s resources. My job is to research and produce preservation histories for historic homes that will be undergoing maintenance. The goal is to preserve the structure’s historic integrity by helping construction companies know what materials to use when rehabilitating buildings. This is especially interesting work, since it brings together archeologists, historians, resource specialists, construction companies, historic architects, curators, and others. I have learned the necessity of teamwork when protecting public resources. Even though the National Park Service is just one career option in the field of public history, seeing how history is applied beyond the classroom has been very rewarding.
Students visit Battle of Plattsburgh Museum, go on ‘Haunted Plattsburgh Walk’
Students in William Duffany’s Social Studies Teaching Seminar stepped outside the classroom to visit the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum and go on a “Haunted Plattsburgh Walk.,” The latter, which actually visits several Battle-related sites, is hosted by the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company. Seminar participants were not just there for entertainment, however. The goal of the field trip was to think about the ways that public history shapes our encounter with history, and how students bring these experiences with them into the classroom.