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Spotlight - Department of History, Illinois State University Spotlight

History Symposium a success!!

The 2015 History Symposium, “Teaching History and The Social Sciences:  The Time is Now” was declared a grand success!  This annual event is co-sponsored by the McLean County Museum of History and the DeWitt-Livingston-McLean County Regional Office of Education and was held for the first time on the campus of Illinois State University with nearly 250 teachers and student teachers attending.  Here are some photo highlights:

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News - Department of History, Illinois State University News

A Look At The Great War…..

100 years later.

Jay Winter

Thursday March 26 at 7 p.m.

Prairie Room, Bone Student Center

Jay Winter, a World War I historian and Yale University professor, will speak about the war and its global impact.

The Great War 100 Years after: A Transnational Approach is the focus of Professor Winter’s talk.  He was co-producer, co-writer and chief historian for the PBS series The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century, which won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and a Producers Guild of America Award for best television documentary.

Speaking internationally on World War I and its impact on the globe, Winter is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books on World War I, including Socialism and the Challenge of War; Ideas and Politics in Britain, 1912-18; The Great War and the British People; The Fear of Population Decline; The Experience of World War I; Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History and 1914-1918; and The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.  He is co-director of the project on Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin 1914-1919.  The effort has produced two volumes published by Cambridge University Press.

Earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and Ph.D. and DLitt degrees from Cambridge University, Winter taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Warwick and the University of Cambridge before joining the faculty of Columbia University in 2000 and then the Yale faculty one year later.  At Yale, his courses range from lectures on Europe in the age of total war and modern British history to seminars on history and memory as well as European identities.

Alums offer advice on how to survive student teaching



Department alums Sidney Comstock ’13 and Joshua Sutter ’13 recently shared their advice with current student teachers.

The Heart of Illinois (HOI) Secondary PDS Partnership, supplements the aspiring educators’ clinical experiences with “Friday focus meetings,” which are monthly informal learning sessions.  The forum allows student teachers to share their experiences and get answers to questions they might otherwise not have a chance to explore deeply during course work.

January’s topic, “Surviving Student Teaching,” featured five outstanding alumni educators who also participated in the HOI Secondary PDS within the past two years including two History-Social Sciences Education majors: Sidney Comstock ’13 and  Joshua Sutter ’13.

Founders Day 2015 special day for History Department

Two people from the History Department received top honors during Founders Day activities Thursday, February 19, 2015. At Convocation, Professor Larissa Kennedy received the Outstanding University Teaching Award and Dr. Sandra Harmon was named the E Burton Mercier Alumni Service Award winner at the Awards Recognition Dinner that evening.

Larissa award
The Outstanding University Teaching Award is given to “individuals who demonstrate the highest commitment to teaching and to student learning.” According to Department Chair, Anthony Crubaugh, “Professor Kennedy generates a positive and exciting learning environment, delivers well-organizes and intellectually substantive lessons and develops a strong rapport with undergraduates.”

Harmon award
The E. Burton Mercier Alumni Service Award recognizes the outstanding service of alumni to Illinois State University. A recipient’s significant volunteer efforts in service to the community, state, country, or an important social cause is also taken into consideration. Dr. Harmon, M.A. ’70, D.A. ’90 taught the first women’s history courses and helped create the Women’s Studies program at Illinois State University and endowed a scholarship in the department. Her selfless service extends beyond the university to the community. Many organizations have benefited from her service.

The Department congratulates Professor Kennedy and Dr. Harmon. We are proud of both of you!!


The History Department congratulates Dr. Alan Lessoff on his latest book, Where Texas Meets the Sea: Corpus Christi and Its History, which the University of Texas Press has just published. The jacket blurb by Benjamin Johnson states: “This is the most sophisticated and compelling urban history set in Texas…A meticulously researched, gracefully written work of considerable originality and importance.”

Department sponsors Black History Month speaker


In honor of Black History Month, Cedric Johnson will address the chaos that followed Katrina with his talk titled The City that Care Forgot: New Orleans and the Future of American Urbanism at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Prairie Room of the Bone Student Center.

The devastation that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was due to more than Mother Nature, says Cedric Johnson, associate professor of African American studies and political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Office of the President and Department of History at Illinois State, the talk is part of the Speaker Series at Illinois State University.


European Studies Symposium
Thu, April 2, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM See Event Description, SCH 130
European Studies Symposium
Fri, April 3, 2015 9:15 AM - 4:00 PM See Event Description, CAT Auditorium
European Studies Symposium
Thu, April 16, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM See Event Description, SCH 130

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Student Teaching Abroad in England: Brighton University-Eastbourne

Blogs from student teachers in the field.

More News from Abroad

Hello everyone! I thought I would add in the picture of some of us dressed up in Victorian clothing since I forgot to add it to my last blog entry. So much has happened since the last time I wrote. Kerry wrote about the school system and our trip to Bodiam and Rye. I still have a lot that I have to write about, but I will try to not make this tooooooo long. (Side note: I legitimately sprained my ankle so I am doing everything with a very attractive limp because I do not want to miss out on anything!)



World War I is not remembered in the states the same way it is remembered in Britain and Europe. The British (and Commonwealth countries) have used the remembrance poppy since 1921 to honor soldiers who have died in war especially those who have died in World War I. When we visited the memorials in Belgium, the students placed their handmade poppies on the graves of the fallen soldiers.

Typical Field Trip

On Friday the 13th, I had the privilege of travelling to Belgium with my school. The history teachers at Bishop Bell organized a trip to Belgium for the Year 8 (grade 7) class who are studying World War I at the moment. At 4:02 am, my cooperating teacher picked me up from my host family’s house. At 4:06 we arrived at my other CT’s house. At 4:15 we arrived in front of Bishop Bell where two coaches and 80 hyper and wide awake 12 and 13 year olds were waiting for us. I was not going to get any sleep on this trip. At 4:30 am we departed from Bishop Bell and began our journey to Belgium.

It took an hour and a half to drive to Euro Tunnel Port. After a pit stop at the terminal (where several kids bought sugar sticks, Starbucks, and Red Bull), we boarded the train. I could never be a coach driver. The driver had to maneuver the bus so that it was in the exact position to be able to turn onto the train and drive through the train cars. This was the most fantastic show of driving that I have ever seen. The tunnel ride was only 35 minutes long. You don’t really realize you are underwater until your ears pop.

After we drove off the train, we were not stopped by any boarder control. I felt like I was illegally traveling through Europe. (I’ve heard that the ferry is much worse.) We drove straight through France and into Belgium.

Ypres (Ieper)

Ypres is a town in Belgium that was very important during World War I. The town was part of the path the Germans were planning on using during their sweep through Belgium into France. The three battles of Ypres were costly to both sides. The town was rebuilt by the money the Germans had to pay in their reparations given to them by the Treaty of Versailles. We visited the In Flanders Fields Museum which is dedicated to Ypres’s role in World War I. The students were given a scavenger hunt to explore the museum. Between memorial stops, we visited a Belgium chocolate shop. Let’s just say that a few of the kids (and staff….ok me) got a little crazy with the chocolate (none of them needed more sugar). However, the chocolate is quite delicious.


Soldier Memorial


Make sure you have your Wellies!

The highlight of the trip for many of the students was visiting the trenches. However, the trenches were almost cancelled due to some inappropriate behavior some of the students displayed at the war memorials. The students might have been too young for all of the memorials we went to see that day. The trenches we visited were partially original. The trenches are not as deep as they once were and some trenches have been added throughout the years by the owners. The kids had a wonderful time running through the trenches and exploring the tunnels. Some students had TOO much fun. Certain students thought it would be funny to jump into the craters full of rain water and mud. These students had to wear bin (trash) bags all the way home. (Some students who did not have Wellies (rain boots) and were not allowed in the trenches themselves, suspiciously returned with mud on their pants and shoes. We made our way back to England where I was stopped by immigration. Finally we arrived back at Bishop Bell around 10:00 pm and I was home in bed by 10:30.





Oxford and Stratford

This past weekend was our trip to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. Oxford University is a very pretty campus that sits upon the River Thames. The Harry Potter films were filmed there and parts of the campus was used as a model for Hogwarts. Unfortunately most of the Harry Potter Places were closed on Saturday. We had some free time to explore the shops, and my already injured ankle was injured some more. Next we made our way to Stratford-upon-Avon which is the home of William Shakespeare. We were unable to see a Shakespeare play that night because they were in between seasons. Instead, we saw a local community theatre put on a production of “The Lady Killers.” Some of the British jokes went over our heads. Sunday we went on a walking tour of Stratford where we saw Shakespeare’s house and burial site. Next we stopped at Warwick Castle. Unlike the Lewes and Bodiam castles, this castle was completely intact. We had another dungeon tour that was similar to the one we went to in London. However, I was much more scared in this one. I do not like people popping out of me in the dark. There is a tower at the castle that has over 500 steps and a warning sign at the entrance. Even with my bad ankle, I climbed to the top and it was worth the view. We explored the whole castle and the grounds where we met a peacock just strolling around.


                                  Wife number 7 for Henry VIII


selfieSelfie with Shakespeare’s house

Easter Break is coming up soon so there will be plenty of stories from our adventures across Europe soon.



Hello from Across the Pond

We have been in England for nearly three weeks now. I have no idea where the time is going. I feel like we just got here. We did not do a lot of traveling like the first week. The last two weeks involved going to our schools and getting use to the new school system. We also took a trip today to Bodiam and Rye. (There will not be a lot of cool photos this week. L) Since Nicole covered a lot of the trips and stuff, I decided to blog about how my experience is slightly different in terms of my host family and school placement. I will also talk about our trip!

My Awesome Host Family

I get to stay with the nicest people in the world. Sue and Roy Fisher (my host family) made us feel very welcome from the first day. When my roommates and I drove up to their house, they had tea and breakfast ready for us. (I was not a big tea drinker before England. By the time I leave, I am pretty sure I will be a full fledge tea drinker.) They were excited to finally meet us and get to know us. I feel like my host family, basically, became my second family. They are always asking us if we need help with any problems. They feed us very well with pudding (dessert British word) almost every night. I am pretty sure I will be gaining weight while I am here, but the food is totally worth it.

I included a picture of their house because of how unique it is. My host family’s house is a renovated 1848 stable house. I did not believe my host family when they told us. The house does not resemble a stable house in any shape or form.



Bodiam and Rye

This weekend we got to take a trip to Bodiam and Rye. At Bodiam, we got to explore an amazing castle. The castle was built in the 14th century by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge. The castle was intended to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War. The castle was breathtaking. The scenery was amazing especially from the top of the castle. It was worth the nerve raking climb to the very top. The stair cases in all of the castles are very narrow and hard to climb. Every time I am climbing a stair case I think about how they did this 1000s of years ago. I imagine a lot of them falling down. I provided a couple of pictures of us at the castle.

rye 1


rye 2View from the top

After we explored the castle, we drove to a town called Rye. It was a very interesting town. There are towns of little shops with antiques and other unique items. I did not allow myself to go into the book stores. I probably leave with a book in my hand. There is a famous street called Mermaid Street. It has an inn with norman cellars dating from 1156 and a hotel having been rebuilt in 1420. I feel like everywhere I turn in England there are historical buildings.



School Placement

While in England, I get the amazing opportunity to finish my student teaching at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy. I just completed my second week of teaching. I could not be happier with my placement. The staff is very welcoming and helpful. They provide a lot of help with bridging the gap between the two systems. The academy is a secondary school so the students range from year 7 (grade 6) to year 11 (grade 11). The school focuses on helping all students succeed in their education. I will briefly explain how the British schooling system is separated in terms of grades. I hope I have this correct because I am still trying to understand the system. I am sure I will have a complete understanding of the system when I am done.

The English schooling system is separated a little bit differently than American system. The students start in primary school which goes from reception (kindergarten) to year 6 (grade 5). After year six, the students go to secondary school from year 7 to year 11. The students could go to schools that specialized in certain areas like business entrepreneurship. A student may want to go to a specialized school because in the English system the student are required to take test in year 11 in order to show what they learned. The students chose a couple of subject areas to focus in during year 8 or 9. It depends on the school. Once they chose the subject areas, they receive additional lessons in the area. The students’ goal is get A, B or C on the exam because it is passing.

My teaching schedule is defiantly different from America. I will be teaching students from year 7 to year 9 in history and geography. I will be teaching the students about the Civil Rights Movement and Commonwealth. It is definitely different teaching US history to British students. They did not grow up with the history like we do in America. In addition to teaching, I will be helping with history and geography lessons from year 7 to year 11. The school schedule is in a two week format instead of one week. There are also only four lessons in a day instead of eight like in America. The two week format allows students to take more classes, but they receive less time in class. The biggest change with the two week format is the amount of time you see the students especially for the social sciences. I only see the students at most two times every two weeks. This makes building a rapport with the students very difficult; however, it can be done. I have been doing some research into football (soccer British word ). A lot of students are into football so I am trying to relate to them by talking about it with them. I also did some research into a national event called Red Nose Day. The entire nation works together to fund raising money for people in need. Red Nose Day is a lot of fun because people do silly things in order to raise the money. For example, people wear red nose with all sorts of designs. I provided a picture of my red nose below. I did have fun wearing a nose at school.

mascot 3


I feel like I am doing a lot of research here in order to understand the school system and students, but I am learning a lot about how to adapt my teaching. I am excited for my next adventures and challenges.


Kerry G.

We have arrived !!

Our first week in England has been an exciting adventure. I have a lot I could write, but I will keep this short. The good thing about our plane ride was that all twelve of us were on the same flight. We arrived at Heathrow airport at 6:30 am and arrive in Eastbourne about 9:00 am. We had some awful turbulence over Ireland, and we had to circle the airport due to a plane on the runway.

     I am rooming with a wonderful host family who house many international students. Since arriving, we have had Chinese, Spanish, and now Italian students staying with us. June and Sonny (my host parents) also have two wonderful dogs named Bertie and Winnie (short for Winston). I love that my roommates and I can meet people from different nations around the world. It is definitely an added bonus to the trip. Eastbourne is a lovely town, although it is bigger than I thought it was going to be with a population of about 100,000. Sonny explained the town keeps growing and absorbing other smaller villages. The town is right on the beach and you could put your feet in the Atlantic Ocean. There is a pub down the street from my house that is from 1180 A.D.! We don’t have that in America!

Pit stop at Lewes!

On Monday we went to Brighton University where we received out Student I.D. cards and learned more about the education system in England. We also found out our placements. I am at Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne. On Tuesday, the group stopped at Lewes on our way to the University. Lewes has a medieval castle from the year 1069 that belonged to the son-in-law of William the Conquer! We enjoyed climbing to the top and taking beautiful scenery pictures. Lewes is also home to a priory (monastery) that was destroyed by King Henry VIII. Wednesday we were dropped off at our schools. I was not at school for very long since both of my teachers were not present.

kerry and I

Kerry and I in front of one of the towers at Lewes castle!

brighton shirts

Brighton University in our Brighton Shirts!

Left to Right: Kristine, Chad, Stephanie,

(Next Row) Dr. Donnell, Lauren, Julie, Lauren,

(Next Row) Karen, Taylor, Katie, ME!, and Kerry.

Hey Kids, Look! It’s Big Ben!

Thursday was our trip to London. It rained until about three o’clock in the afternoon, but we did not mind getting wet. Mary and Becca (our Brighton advisors) took us on a walking tour past Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Then we experienced the London Underground or Tube (subway). We made our way to Piccadilly Square and went shopping at Fortnum & Mason where the royals shop! Mary and Becca left us to go off on our own. A group of us went to the London Dungeon Show Tour. We move from room to room encountering: Guy Fawkes (think V for Vendetta but in the right time period), the Black Plague, Jack the Ripper (Jumped out at us with a knife), and Sweeny Todd (this section was completely in the dark and terrifying). At the end we were put on trial and hanged (It was a baby version of the Tower of Terror Ride at Disney World). I did have some really good Italian pizza when we stopped for lunch. Pizza is everywhere in the UK which makes me happy.

big ben


It’s Bath Time!

Saturday we went to Bath and Stonehenge. Bath is home to the world’s oldest Roman Bath house. The water comes from an ancient hot spring that is still flowing today. Although we could not touch the water in the actual bath, we had a chance to drink some of the filtered water. It was warm and tasted similar to eggs. A group of girls went to the Fashion Museum where we had a chance to dress up in Victorian clothing. Stonehenge was wonderful.  It is amazing that this structure has been here for 5,000 years and no one knows why it was built! We also had some fun taking pictures with the sheep.

 roman bath

The Roman Bath!

slefie in bath

Selfie in Bath!


The Mysterious Stonehenge!!

It’s Time for Learning!

The 2nd was our first full day in school. I found out that what I will be teaching while I am at Bishop Bell. I have students who range from year 7 (grade 6) to year 10 (grade 9). My cooperating teachers are allowing me to create my own lesson plans for each class. I am teaching a wide range of subjects from the Tudors to American geography. On Friday, I taught my first lesson. I love how my students are so fascinated with my accent, they listen to every word I say. Here is to more adventures.




Faculty Publications


See faculty publications for a full list of recent publications.

What can you do with a History Major?

More information on careers also available at American Historical Association, ISU Career Center, and Pre-Law Advisement Center

Email History

Department of History
Normal, Il 61790-4420
Phone: (309) 438-5641
Fax: (309) 438-5607

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