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Spotlight - Department of History, Illinois State University Spotlight

New Books



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History department faculty members Katrin Paehler and Andrew Hartman, and recent retiree, Suzanne Broderick have all had new books recently released.

For more information, click on the headline above.

Katrin Paehler and David A Messenger’s, eds., A Nazi Past: Recasting German Identity in Postwar Europe, published by the University Press of Kentucky.  “These superb essays” (Steven Remy) – based on impressive archival research and recently declassified documents – form a “rich and original book” (Jonathan Wiesen) by examining how former Nazis, fascists, and collaborators refashioned themselves and reestablished their post-WWII careers not simply by hiding their pasts but often by actively recasting them.  for example, in the case of Walter Schellenberg studies by Kat, Messnger and Paehler write: “Rather than downplaying his role in Nazi Germany or disavowing his relationship with many members of Nazi Germany’s state and party hierarchy, Schellenberg attempted to use them to his advantage, as he cast himself as the ultimate insider, Western-learning diplomat, and humanitarian thwarted in his effort to bring peace.”

Andrew Hartman’s A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars, was recently published by the University of Chicago Press.  Andrew’s book “gives the culture wars a history – because they are history” by treating the contentious debates of the 80s and 90s as manifestations of a larger struggle emanating from transformations to American life rooted in the sixties.  Back cover blurbs from Gary Nash, Jonathan Zimmerman, Elaine Tyler May, David Sehat, and Claire bond Potter, as well as pre-publication reviews (e.g. Marginalia/LA Review of Books) and interviews (e.g. Full Stop), suggest that Andrew has produced a well-researched, nicely-written, timely and important book sure to garner attention within and outside of the academy.

Suzanne Broderick’s book, Reel War vs. Real War: Veterans, Hollywood, and WWII, was published in Rowman and Littlefield’s Film and History Series.  It stemmed from Suzanne’s longtime participation in the Film and History conferences.  Combining commentary on World War II movies with oral histories of combatants as well as women on the home front, Reel War vs. Real War “makes a unique contribution to the conversation about Hollywood’s role in shaping history.”

News - Department of History, Illinois State University News

Department presents annual awards to 16 history majors



Tuesday night, April 28, 16 History or History-Social Sciences Education majors gathered with their families and department faculty members to be recognized for their hard work.  Nearly $30,000 was awarded to these students from eight department scholarship funds:

Helen M. Cavanagh Awards Best Master’s Degree Student – Meghan Hawkins and Fusheng Luo

Helen M. Cavanagh Awards for Best Master’s Thesis in US History – Kera Storrs

Helen M. Cavanagh Awards for Best Master’s Thesis in non-US History – Fusheng Luo

Lucy Lucile Tasher Senior Scholarship – Samuel Quast and David Shanahan

Gleynafa A. Ray Award – Blake Bodine, Matthew Donta, Nora Dunne and Kerry Garvey

Mark Wyman Scholarship – Adam Barnes and Jeremy Yeary

James Todd Wilborn Scholarship – Kelly Schrems

Darrel A. Sutter Award – Jason Blankenship and Trevor Shields

Kyle C. Sessions Honors Scholarship – Beau Ott

William and Jeanne Howard Scholarship – Lucas Mays

Four new members of Phi Alpha Theta inducted Tuesday night

new members

Benjamin Boing, Addison Tweedy, Katelyn Maragi and Eldon Yeakel were inducted into Phi Alpha Theta Tuesday night as part of the department Awards Ceremony.  To qualify a student must have at least 12 semester hours in History with a GPA of at least 3.1 in History and 3.0 overall.  Graduate students must have 12 graduate house completed toward their Master’s Degree with at least a 3.5 GPA.  Only Phi Beta Kappa has more stringent membership qualifications.  As a result, the faculty and staff of the History Department take these students’ achievement very seriously.  Congratulations!

Faculty/Staff Accomplishments and Activities

Sudipa Topdar published “Duties of a ‘good citizen': colonial secondary school textbook policites in late nineteenth-century India, ” in South Asian history and Culture 6 (3) (April 2015): 1-25.

John Reda’s appearance in this Sunday’s (4/26) episode of TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” was featured in today’s CAS News:

Amy Wood presented “Sympathetic Sentiment and the Psychiatric Treatment of Prisoners in the Progressive Era” at the OAH conference in St. Louis.

Andrew Hartman presented “Studies on the Left, 1959-1967: towards an American Western Marxism” at the OAH.

Richard Soderlund, Issam Nassar, Ross Kennedy and Dan Stump received rave reviews for their Senior Professionals classes on World War I.  Part 2 in fall consists of Kat Paehler, Christine Varga-Harris, Dan Stump and Ross Kennedy.

2015 Capital Forum again a success

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More than 170 high school students from throughout the state of Illinois met yesterday on campus to listen to experts and discuss human rights issues.  This even is co-sponsored by the history department and funded by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.  thanks to Dr. Hughes, Dr. Noraian and the students from History 290 for their involvement.

Winners of the History 300 Sutter Writing Awards gather

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History department philanthropist, Darrel A. Sutter met with the recipients of the 2014-15 Darrel A. Sutter Textbook Scholarship and Social Sciences Writing Awards at a reception held in the department office on Wednesday, April 15.  Pictured here left to right:  John Coners, Ryan Martin, Mr. Sutter, Kevin Shackley, and Greg Staggs.   Coners received the Textbook Scholarship, Martin, Shackley, and Staggs wrote the best History 200 papers from fall 2014 with Staggs’s paper named the best overall.


Student Teaching Abroad in England: Brighton University-Eastbourne

Blogs from student teachers in the field.

This is what dreams are made of….

Hello! The past two weeks have been crazy for us teaching in England. We had our Easter of Spring Break which lasted two weeks. The week before break, my students were wild with excitement for the holiday since many of them travel with their families. One of my students was going to Turkey with his family. We did some traveling as well during our holiday. It was hard going back to school on the 13th and having to teach after spending two weeks relaxing, but we love teaching so it’s not so bad. Observe the lovely ankle brace I am wearing in all of my pictures as I tell you about our travels to Germany and Italy.

When it rains it snows

I travelled with a group of four girls: Stephanie (one of my roommates), Lauren and Katie (who are twins). Our first stop was Berlin. Our flight there was very rocky, and the family behind me took turns throwing up. It was raining when we landed, but after being in England for five weeks we were used to rain. We decided to just explore the city on our first day. Parts of the city reminded us of Chicago. It was interesting to see the differences between East and West Berlin. We made our way to Check Point Charlie which was a US military boarder control during the Cold War. There is an arch way from the Berlin Wall near the check point as well. We continued to walk along the streets of Berlin where we saw lots of street art. We stumbled upon another part of the Wall where it is tradition to place gum on the wall. We continued our journey and found more monuments and memorials such as the Holocaust Memorial. From a far it looks like a bunch of stone slabs, but once you walk into it, it has a very powerful feeling. The memorial is dedicated to the Jews who died during the holocaust. The design represents the seemingly ordered Nazi society that was actually filled with chaos and deception.

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Our group in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall

Ciao Bella

Italy is absolutely beautiful. It was in the upper 70’s and sunny when we arrived in Rome. A far cry from the snow and wind we experienced in Berlin. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast that was only three blocks away from the Vatican City. We could hear the holy week masses from our rooms. We decided to visit the Vatican on our first full day in Rome. We walked past St. Peter’s Basilica when the Pope was giving Holy Thursday mass. It was unreal to see the Pope orating a Triduum mass. (The Triduum is the three days before Easter.) We were greeted by several vendors trying to sell us guided tours. Tip: if you have a student ID it is only 8 EUROS to get into the museums. Selfie stick vendors are also popular in Italy. I have been to the Vatican museum once before in High School, but it was nice taking my time to explore all parts of the museum. We spent a couple of hours wondering around the museum. Our second day was exploring Rome on foot. We walked to the Pantheon which is the oldest full standing structure in Rome. The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple, but now it has been converted into a church. It is my favorite place to visit in Rome because of its design. The builders purposefully created a hole in the sealing to allow all of the elements to enter. During certain times of the day, a stream of light will come it and land on the altar. We made our way to Trevi Fountain which was unfortunately under construction. Our last stop was the Spanish Steps. Our last day in Rome we went to the Roman Forum and the Colloseum. We loved exploring ancient Rome walking through Caesar Augustus’s gardens. We even made friends with a seagull.

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Selfie at the Roman Forum

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Sistine Chapel


I’m all about that Duomo

Our next stop was Florence. On Easter we took a train through the Italy country side to the city of Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy. We only had a day and a half to explore the city. We spent our only full day exploring the Duomo in the heart of the city. First, was the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore have been here before, but this time I had the chance to explore the whole cathedral. Below the cathedral is the original church alter and parts of the original Roman wall. After standing in line for 2 ½ hours, we climbed to the top of the dome where we could see the entire city of Florence and the mountains in the background. After our climb, we stopped for lunch and gelato (of course!) and made our way to the shopping district of Florence. We had to make a stop at the Disney store since we are all Disney fans. We also explored the shops native to Florence. Stephanie and I spent some time people watching. We went home early to pack for our journey to Venice the next day.

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View of the Duomo from our hostile


Island Hopping

Venice is my favorite city in Italy (that I have been to). I only spent a day on the island when I travelled with my choir in high school. We spent the first part of the day exploring San Marco Square. The basilica in the square is where Saint Mark (one of the four writers of the New Testament) is buried. Saint Mark burial on the island was crucial to Venice becoming a republic after the barbarian invasions near the end of the Roman Empire. The palace that surrounds the square was built by Napoleon after he conquered the island. However, he only ended up living there for two days.  After visiting the Basilica we crossed the square to San Macro’s Campanile. Unlike the Duomo, we took a lift to the top of the tower where we could see the entire city. While we were in the tower, a bell started ringing. Each bell in the tower rings for a different occasion: executions, session of the Senate, council meetings, beginning and end of the work day. The one we saw was called the Nona which sounds midday. On our second day we went on a walking tour of the city where we learned a great deal of history. (We also saw the hotel George Clooney frequents.) Our tour concluded with a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. We saw a young German man purpose to his girlfriend on the boat in front of us. We ended the day by the Rialto Bridge eating gelato. We returned home Friday the 10th to celebrate Stephanie’s birthday in Eastbourne with the rest of the group. The weekend was spent relaxing with our host family and preparing our lessons. We only have three weeks left in England before we come home and graduate. Time is going quickly, but we still have our field trip to Paris before returning to Illinois.

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The Grand Canal at night


Nicole L.

Spring Break of a lifetime!!

I just got back a couple of days ago from one of the best spring breaks. In England, most of the schools have two weeks instead of one week for Spring Break. It was nice actually having time to travel to different places. I took full advantage of each day I had. I went to Berlin, Venice, Rome and London. It is safe to say I was very tired by the end of the trip. I will briefly go over what I did in each city. (I have tried to not post too many photos. I took over 1000 without even noticing) I will try to keep it short because we covered a lot of ground over break. I am pretty sure I will need to buy new gym shoes.

Berlin- Day one and two

We decided to split into smaller groups for spring break because it is easier to travel. My group left on Sunday to Berlin with a slightly bumpy start. Our taxis driver had no idea where they were going. It was 5 AM and I had to help direct the taxis driver to the other host family’s house. I am really surprised we were able to find the house because I had no idea where we were going either. Once we got on the airplane, the trip went a lot smoother.

I absolutely loved Berlin from the moment we walked off the plane. I just loved the way the city felt with the different buildings and atmosphere. When we were in Berlin, I went a little bit nuts because I was able to see a lot of historical sites I read about over the last couple of years. We were able to see: Eastside Gallery, Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Checkpoint Charlie, site of SS headquarters, Reichstag, Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial. Out of all of the sites my two favorites were the Eastside Gallery and Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

The Eastside Gallery is a surviving section of the Berlin Wall. The entire length of the wall has different memorials painted on to it. The different paintings each memorialize different ideas that evolved from the Cold War Era. I found myself staring at many of them trying to understand their meanings. I could not imagine being in a city that was a battle field between two super powers. I provided a picture of me in front of the wall.


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My other favorite site was the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp. When we decided to go to the camp, I was not completely sure what to expect. I read so much about the Nazis and the concentration camps. I never thought I would be standing in a middle of a camp. A lot of thoughts were running through my head about what happened in the camp. Most of the camps’ structures were not standing, but we had an outline of what the camp looked like. We walked the entire length of the camp in order to get a feeling of how the prisoners felt. There is no way we could completely understand, but after seeing the camp my perspective on history slightly changed. It is hard not to change while traveling to historical sites because history is coming alive in front of you.

We were only able to stay in Berlin for two very short days. I wish I could have stayed longer because I felt like we scratched the surface of the city. However, we had to leave in order to make the most of our spring break.

Venice Day Three and Four

When we arrived in Venice, the weather was completely different. We went from snowing and cold to sunny and hot. I missed the sun a lot. In England, most of the days are gray and dark because of all of the rain. I almost forgot what the sun was like. I also forgot how the sun could burn my skin. I did not think about packing sunscreen.

Overall, I loved Venice because of how it felt and its scenery. I provided a couple of photos of the town. (It was hard only choosing a couple) Old Venice was completely breathtaking because it is located directly on water. I feel like the entire city was built around the different water ways and canals. We mainly stayed at St. Macro’s square during the two days. According to my friend, the Italian Job was filmed in the square. We basically did a lot of eating in the square and enjoying the culture. We ate pizza and gelato on the waterfront. I never got tired of the pizza or ice cream in Italy. I had it almost every day. We also took a ride in a gondola. I never thought I would be riding in a gondola through Venice when I decided to go on this trip in September. It was really weird being driven around in such a tiny boat. The driver would effortlessly move the boat while talking and smoking. It is the best way to see Venice because we covered a lot of the areas in a small amount of time. It was also nice not to be walking around everywhere.

After we had our fill of pizza and gelato, we hooped onto a train to Rome. We had a four train ride to Rome, which was actually a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of the country side. I wish we could have stopped in some of the places. I feel like you learn a lot about a country by seeing its countryside.

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Rome- Day Five, Six and Seven

If Berlin and Venice did not ruin the rubber on my gym shoes, Rome completely finished them off. We did so much walking between the sites. Over the course of three days we went to: the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Saint Peter’s Square, Colossuem, Vatican Museum and a lot of different ruins. My two favorite sites were the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum.

We meet a lot of different people at the Colosseum. I am pretty sure I meet more Americans there then in England. I simply loved the Colosseum because of its history. The building was the focal point of so much Roman history. I found myself just staring at building for the longest time. My friends probably thought I was a bit nuts. I was just so taken back by the building and what it stood for. I took lots of photos and videos of the area.

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My other favorite site was the Vatican Museum. This should be no surprise to anyone who knows me well. This is the second largest museum in the world. We had to walk four kilometers in order to cover the entire length. My feet were killing me by the end of it. Everywhere I looked there was something old and historical. It holds the famous Sistine Chapel. I could not take a picture of the Sistine Chapel. There were a lot of guards yelling at the tourists not to take photos. I do not think they had enough guards because many people were still taking photos with their phones.

Overall, I feel like we only scratched the surface of what Rome could offer. We saw a lot of history, but we really did not explore the culture. I loved hopping to each new city because we saw a lot of different sites. However, it was hard to really explore the culture. Before we knew, we were flying out of Italy to London for the last couple days of break.

London Day Eight, Nine and Ten

To be very honest, after our backpacking across mainland Europe we kind of passed out in London. We did not do a lot on day eight and nine besides explore the area we were in. We were not in actually London because we had the opportunity to stay in Greenwich with a friend. There was actually quite a bit to see in the town. We went to: Naval museum, local markets and the Queen’s house. The Queen’s house actually had a Doctor Who episode filmed in it. (Yes, I am a Doctor Who fan.)

After taking a couple of easy days, we went into the city of London to explore a couple more sites. My two favorites were the London Eye and Tower of London. I have this tradition were if I go to a place with a famous Ferris Wheels I have to go on it. I posted a picture of the scenery at the top. The view from the very top was breathtaking. Basically, I could see almost all of London. My other favorite site was the Tower of London. Our main objective was to see the crown jewels. I was surprised how long we had to wait to see the crown jewels; however it was well worth it. We saw so many different pieces dating back to Charles II’s reign. During Charles I’s reign, the jewels were destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. Before anyone asks, I do not have any pictures of the jewels. We are not allowed to take photos for security reasons.

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Me in front of the Tower Bridge


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London Eye!

The End

It is safe to say by the time I got back to Eastbourne I was dead tired. All I wanted to do was sleep. Overall, the trip was well worth all of the money and time. I have read so much about the places we visited, but it is something else standing in them. I was able to experience so many different cultures and people. It makes me want to travel even more after I am back in the States.


Kerry G.

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.



Faculty Publications


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

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