History Professor Receives Germany Residency, Journal Awards from Historians Organization
History Professor James Rice has received a 2015 Organization of American Historians Germany Residency Award, which will allow him to travel to the University of Tubingen, Germany, for a month beginning the end of May.
While at Tubingen, Rice will teach a weekly seminar for graduate students and advanced undergrads. He’ll also consult on an ad hoc basis with grad students who are working on theses on American topics.
“The seminar is an introduction to American environmental history,” Rice said. “I’ve written some environmental history already and am working on a book about the environmental history of Native America.”
Rare Chance to Teach Subject
Rice said he’s looking forward to the residency because it gives him the chance to teach a subject that he enjoys but rarely gets to offer.
“Our department already has a well-known environmental historian, Dr. Gary Kroll, who does a fantastic job of teaching the subject at Plattsburgh. I have my hands full teaching early American and Native American history courses, so this short sting at Tubingen presents a rare opportunity to teach this subject.”
A member of the history faculty since 1999, Rice said his trip abroad will help him “get some fresh perspectives on teaching and student learning by jumping into a different setting.
“The German system is significantly different from ours; also, it’s been a long time since I taught graduate students,” he said. “I’m also interested in my students’ perspectives on environmental history, because Germany is the home of a viable Green Party and has a long history of proto-environmental and environmental movements.”
One of the best reasons, however, is its lack of North Country bugs, particularly blackflies, he joked.
The Germany residency prize is one of two honors Rice has recently received from the OAH. In addition, he has won the Binkley-Stephenson Award for his piece “Bacon’s Rebellion in Indian Country.”
The award is given annually “for the best article in the Journal of American History,” he said. He said he’s excited about this honor because the journal “is usually among the world’s top scholarly journals in the discipline, in terms of global power rankings and has a very low acceptance rate to begin with.”
Rice, a self-professed bookwork and compulsive writer, said he was drawn to history because it’s a literary, book-centered discipline.
“History is (also) one of those disciplines that ranges widely in time, space and through various theoretical realms — sociology, literary criticism, political science, anthropology, you name it. That’s liberating,” he said.
But he’s happiest “in the early modern period, the several centuries before about 1750. One can approach history as the study of how today’s world came to be, or, conversely, as an ethnographic exploration of the world’s diversity,” he said. “I prefer the latter approach, and boy, was the 17th century different from today.”