History

"Remembering the past is a fundamental human activity."

historyIn his account of the violent conflict between the Persian Empire and the Greek city-states, the ancient scholar Herodotus wrote that his purpose was "to preserve the memory of the past." He called the work his "researches" or "inquiries" — his historia.

At Saint Michael's College, you will work with professional historians to bring the past to life. You'll be offered a diverse array of courses that focus on a variety of geographical regions and time periods, including the United States, Europe (modern, medieval, and ancient), Latin America, East Asia, and the Islamic world.

The faculty members of the Department of History are all active professional scholars in their fields of research, and they bring their expertise and their enthusiasm for their research into their classrooms and seminars. Among the fields in which faculty members have published are 19th century New England and New York, China and its politics in the 20th century, medieval Italy and medieval religion, 20th century US politics and culture, race and society in the Caribbean, and Britain before and during World War II.

You will develop skills in investigation, writing, and critical analysis, weaving together ideas from other disciplines, which will prepare you for a number of career and graduate school options.

The course topics we offer include:

  • Contemporary China and Japan
  • World War II in Asia, Europe, and the United States
  • Saints and religion in 13th and 14th century Italy
  • New England before the Civil War
  • Women in 20th century Britain and the United States
  • The rise and fall of the British Empire
  • The presidency of FDR and the Great Depression
  • Society and culture in Latin America

In all of our courses we emphasize critical thinking, research skills, oral presentations, and good writing. These are necessary skills that are all applicable to a wide variety of professions and occupations in the economy today.

History Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate the ability think, write, and speak critically and analytically about the past.

Students will conduct research into the past by producing research papers and will correctly document the primary and secondary sources that inform that research.

Students will be able to articulate the dynamic nature of historical change over time in several areas of the world, be able to interpret primary and secondary historical texts in an informed and critical manner.

Students will describe the significant currents and forces that have helped shape world history.

Students will use the tools and resources (digital, print, material) necessary to complete a significant research project in History.

Students will illustrate a broad understanding of the history of at least three of the four geographically-defined areas of the world offered by the department.

Students will be able to describe the major historiographical issues associated with the topics covered.

George Dameron, PhD

History Department Chair, Professor of History
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Ph.D. Harvard University
M.A. Harvard University
B.A. Duke University

Areas of Expertise:

Medieval and Early Modern Europe; Medieval Italy, with particular focus on thirteenth and fourteenth century Tuscany (social, economic, cultural, political)

Courses I Teach:

  • Ancient and Medieval Civilization
  • The Black Death
  • Culture and Society in Medieval Italy
  • Early Modern Europe
  • The Franciscans
  • The Historian's Craft
  • Honors Colloquium
  • Joan of Arc (First Year Seminar)
  • Medieval Europe
  • Renaissance and Reformation
  • Senior Seminar
  • Topics in Medieval History: (topics vary and include "Women and Gender in the Middle Ages")

Kathryn Dungy, PhD

Assistant Professor of History
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M.A., Ph.D. Duke University
B.A. Spelman College

Areas of Expertise:

Social and cultural history of Latin America and the Caribbean; gender and race identity; Atlantic World, Antebellum U.S.

Courses I Teach:

  • Colonial Latin America
  • Early Caribbean
  • Modern Latin America
  • Modern Caribbean
  • Race, Class and Gender in the Americas
  • Slavery in the Americas
  • Senior Seminar

Susan Ouellette, PhD

Professor of History
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B.A. SUNY Plattsburgh
M.A., Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Areas of Expertise:

Early America, including the first settlement up to the American Revolution period; Native Americans; Immigration history, especially the experience of Francophones in the Northeast; Textiles history; Women’s history; diaries and memoirs.

Courses I Teach:

  • The Age of American Revolution, 1763-1815
  • American Society and Culture to 1865
  • History of the American Family
  • Native Peoples of North America
  • The Roots of American Society, 1607-1763
  • Senior Seminar
  • Topics in Women's History and the History of Gender
  • United States History to 1865
  • Women in American Society

My Saint Michael's:

I value the opportunity to work closely with students in the classroom as well as in internship and independent scholarship.

One of the unique opportunities that students at Saint Michael's have is the ability to use the physical world they see around them to study history; I like to incorporate local places, documents, structures, and people to bring class work to life. For instance, a short trip down into Winooski can give students a rare view of early industrial sites; a look at the Mill museum is a chance to imagine life in the beginning of the industrial age.

Jennifer Purcell, PhD

Assistant Professor of History
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Ph.D. University of Sussex, Britain
B.A., M.A. University of Colorado

Areas of Expertise:

Social and cultural history of 20th century Britain; women and national identity; gender; life history

Courses I Teach:

  • Cultural and Social History of Britain, 19th and 20th centuries
  • Europe in World War II
  • Honors Colloquium
  • Modern Europe
  • Senior Seminar
  • War and Gender in Britain

Doug Slaybaugh, PhD

Professor of History
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Ph.D. Cornell University
M.A. Iowa State University
B.S. Iowa State University

Areas of Expertise:

U.S. politics, society and culture; biography

Courses I Teach:

  • America and the Cold War
  • American Society and Culture Since 1865
  • Presidential Elections
  • The Age of FDR
  • Senior Seminar
  • U.S. History Since 1865

My Saint Michael's:

What I like most about Saint Michael's students is their friendliness and curiosity. The interaction with students and the opportunity to share our excitement about ideas and books is great fun. Students are drawn to the recent past because it often involves events familiar to them, their parents, and other relatives and friends. They like getting a deeper understanding of history they can relate to themselves and people they know.

It's hard to choose a favorite class to teach, but perhaps it is Presidential Elections. I usually teach it in the fall of a presidential election year and like to integrate study of the on-going campaign with that of historical campaigns. This has been a good way to help students understand why candidates, parties, the media, and the whole electoral process is the way it is.

I use debates and role-playing in many of my courses. They provide a unique opportunity for student-to-student interaction and a more spontaneous kind of learning to take place.

Ke-wen Wang, PhD

Professor of History
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M.A., Ph.D. Stanford University
B.A. National Taiwan University

Areas of Expertise:

Politics in Nationalist China; the Sino-Japanese War; Chinese Newspapers in the Republican Era

Courses I Teach:

  • China in the 20th Century
  • East Asia and the West
  • Japan and the Modern World
  • Japanese Culture
  • Modern East Asia
  • Senior Seminar
  • Traditional East Asia
  • World War II in Asia
  • Women in East Asian History

My favorite course to teach is World War II in Asia. I feel that war is a constant reminder that human societies need to learn from their past – and that they seldom do. I enjoy teaching the course because it is close to my own research interest and because it challenges students to re-examine their U.S.-centered view of history through the study of an otherwise familiar event.

Travel and learn

Many of our students study abroad all over the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

Consider taking our study tour course to Selma, Alabama, where the Society of Saint Edmund (the founding religious order of Saint Michael's College) played a significant role in the struggle for Civil Rights in the 1960's. An academic study tour to Assisi, Italy, focusing on Saint Francis of Assisi, d. 1226, and the Franciscans) is also in the works.

Do an internship

Students have interned at a variety of places, including the Office of the Governor of Vermont, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Vermont Commission on Women, the Hinesburg Land Trust, Shelburne Museum and more.

Become a member of a national honor society

Our department has a chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international Honors Society in History. Saint Michael's College founded its chapter, Alpha Epsilon Nu, in 1991, and membership is open to all students, regardless of major. Special programs and activities are planned throughout the academic year. Phi Alpha Theta's motto is "seek truth." Every year the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Saint Michael's College (Gamma of Vermont) also inducts several history majors and minors into its ranks.

Learn from visiting scholars

Our department sponsors the prestigious and annual Norbert A. Kuntz Memorial Lecture in History. The department established the lecture series to honor Dr. Norbert Kuntz, a long-time Saint Michael's professor and chair of the History Department. This series brings a historian of international stature to Saint Michael's College to address the community. Members of the department also work with other programs and honor societies to bring noted scholars to campus to interact closely with our students. For example, our department cooperated recently with the college Phi Beta Kappa chapter to bring a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar to campus.

Become a double-major or minor

Our department is also closely associated with several interdisciplinary programs - American Studies, East Asian Studies, Gender Studies, Humanities, and Medieval Studies.

Many of our students choose to double-major or minor with one of these other disciplines to further enhance their academic experience. If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, History will prepare you well to work in the classroom. If you are thinking of becoming a lawyer, History will prepare you well to work in the courtroom.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • History Teacher
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Law Clerk
  • Paraprofessional
  • Political Campaign Position
  • Community Integration Specialist

A degree in history is valuable for a variety of careers and workplaces, including:

  • Law
  • Marketing/Public Relations
  • Insurance
  • Teaching
  • Business
  • Banking
  • Education agencies and foundations
  • Private non-profit organizations
    • Museums
    • State or federal government historical programs
    • Libraries
  • Research institutions
    • Public research agencies
    • University research agencies
  • Foundations or philanthropic organizations
    • State councils on the humanities
  • Private individual or small firms
    • Historic preservation
    • Restoration programs
    • Consulting for business or public agencies
  • Public agencies
    • Planning agencies
    • Libraries and archives
    • State and federal departments of archaeology
    • Resident historians in state or national parks
    • Government service

Learn What Matters