English 101

5 Feb

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, is the first MTSU student to participate in the study abroad program at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England! Throughout the semester he will be guest blogging and letting us know about his experience! Below is his first blog post and some pictures of Newcastle!


English 101

I never expected that language would prove to be such a difficultly. In the English county of Northumberland, the locals seem to speak another language. The common phrase, “ye deed canny is oot,” baffled me until a local explained it meant “your as dead nice as anything.” Folks from the area around the Tyne and Wear Rivers (of which Newcastle is the center) speak in a dialect known as Geordie. Geordie is one of more than seven distinct dialects spoken by the people of Northumberland. To an American, each dialect might sound slightly Scottish. Indeed, Northumberland is so far north that I’ve heard it described as the southernmost region of Scotland. The consolation of learning these “foreign languages,” however, is that the locals will give you a helping hand. There are quite a few non-native Geordies from other regions of Britain who remember the struggles of learning the dialect for the first time.

Learning a new vocabulary will be something to get used to in England. As many of you probably know, American fries are British chips, and our biscuits are their scones. There is a different academic language as well. While in the States, a Master’s student is called a graduate student, in England, he is called a postgraduate. University is usually abbreviated “uni,” Departments are known as Faculties, professors are referred to as tutors, and classes are known as modules. One other vocabulary fact that may startle is that the British do not use the term public history. When I mentioned the term “public historian” to a colleague, she admitted after reflection, “I guess that’s what I am. I just never used the term.” As such, there are no university-level public history programs. Master’s programs in cultural management, events management, or museum studies are much more common. Given that my degree does not exist in England (at least in name), I am taking one course with the Cultural Management Faculty and another course with the History Faculty. Together, these two classes resemble a typical semester in MTSU’s Public History Program. Even more surprising perhaps, are museum apprenticeships. In 2005, in order to get more young people in the museum field, the British government encouraged city councils to offer vocational training to socially- or economically-marginalized workers, aged 16-25. Apprentices work for little pay (£2.50 or $3.60 an hour) at a museum for one year, finish with a certificate, and then go on to apply for museum jobs anywhere in the nation. While an apprentice’s certificate is not as highly-regarded as a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, many apprentices find work in English museums. Bede’s World, the museum where I work, employs three or four former apprentices. Most of the administrators, however, have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

Both the British and American people speak English. Yet, there are different dialects, vocabularies, and colloquialisms that make the English of the two nations seem dissimilar. So dissimilar in fact, that (although Northumbria requires English-proficiency among exchange students) Northumbria’s faculty still feels it necessary to introduce newly-arrived students to academic British vocabulary. From my little experience, I’m not sure a non-native can ever pass “English 101.”

-Ethan Morris, Public History Graduate Student


The lake at Leazes Park.IMG_1742


A view from the top of Newcastle’s Castle, looking northward toward St. Nicholas’ Cathedral.DSCN7445


Newcastle’s Castle’s Keep.



A view from the Swing Bridge, looking down the Tyne River at the Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Millennium Bridge (a pedestrian bridge).IMG_1673

Stay tuned for more updates from Ethan!!

Northumbria University

13 Dec

About year and a half ago Brian Ward, a professor of American studies at Northumbria University in Newcastle, was on MTSU’s campus and reached out to our history department to create a memo of understanding between our universities. Essentially, MTSU students will pay MTSU tuition and take courses at Northumbria and Northumbria students will pay Northumbria tuition and take courses here at MTSU. In April 2015, Dr. Kristine McCusker and Dr. Ashley Riley Sousa went to visit Northumbria. I met with Dr. McCusker to discuss their trip and the program. She described the layers of history in the city’s architecture, the public transportation system, and life in Newcastle. She explained the city is not too touristy and cheaper to live in than other larger cities. It serves as a nice base between some of the surrounding cities.

We also discussed the university in more detail. Northumbria University has campuses in London and Newcastle and works with many other higher education institutions across the world, now including Middle Tennessee State University. It is a relatively new school with about 40,000 students. Dr. McCusker described it as a very modern university. They have a close relationship with Newcastle University and they also have a very strong international education program. This opportunity is available to both graduate and undergraduate students.

In regards to tuition, students who pay both in state and out of state tuition at MTSU will pay in state tuition for Northumbria as long as they are taking Northumbria courses. For undergraduate students, any funding they receive is carried over, but the details for graduate students are still being negotiated. While the details for funding for graduate students have not been completely worked out, if a graduate student with an assistantship gives up their funding for the semester, they will still have funding for an additional semester when they return to MTSU.

Ethan Morris, a graduate student in the public history program, will be the first MTSU student to participate in the program. He will be using a combination of international studies funding and funding from the history department. One of his main tasks is to go to local institutions in the city and create a database of potential places for public history internships.

“I will be flying to Newcastle in early January and arriving back in the states in late May. One of my classes, a seminar on the management of cultural organizations, combines classroom readings and discussion with a work placement at a nearby museum, historic site, or cultural institution. I will not know my second class until I arrive at Northumbria for international induction day. The class could either focus on digital history or imperial Britain and its international rivals. I hope to walk away from my courses with a better understanding of museum management, budgeting, personnel management, public relations, public programs, and grant writing. Great Britain is certainly not the United States, and I understand that most British institutions are nationally funded whereas American institutions must compete for local, state, or federal funds. Yet, I believe the differences will give me a unique perspective on American issues and help me become a well-rounded, and more adaptable, museum administrator. I also intend to form working relationships with Northumbria faculty members and the staff at local museums in the hopes that these relationships can develop into networks, collaborative projects, and possible internships for MTSU students. Of course, I also hope to gain an appreciation of British culture, its people, its food, and its history. I am excited to see something like Hadrian’s Wall, a structure older an anything I’ve ever seen. I will keep in touch through blogs and other social media, and look forward to seeing everyone when I return.” – Ethan Morris

Below is a slide show of pictures from Dr. Riley Sousa and Dr. McCusker’s trip in April. It includes photos of the city and Northumbria University.

Want to know more about these pictures and about a semester abroad in Newcastle? Contact Dr. McCusker at kristine.mccusker@mtsu.edu


Written by Kathryn Slover, social media graduate assistant





A few updates from the History Department

22 Nov

A few updates here from the History Department about study abroad for spring and summer 2016 and a new B.S. degree in history.

New Bachelor of Science degree offered in History
The History Department has implemented a new BS degree and a BS degree with licensure beginning Fall 2015. The BS degree requires two minors and there is no foreign language requirement. The BS degree with licensure requires one minor in addition to the Secondary Education minor, with the possibility of adding a third endorsement. Talk to your faculty advisors if you want more information. Or you can contact the Undergraduate Director Dr. Yüan-ling Chao at ychao@mtsu.edu.

The MTSU history department has several study abroad options for spring and summer 2016. Listed below are undergraduate and graduate courses and contact information for each. 

MTSU in Scotland: International Historic Preservation, June 28-July 19
Experience three weeks in Glasgow and Edinburgh while learning about the preservation and interpretation of Scotland’s history and culture through its famous city centers, museums, artifacts, landscapes, and historic sites. Meet preservation professionals and learn about their practices in a British context. Gain a new perspective on your life and future career in two of Europe’s most vibrant cities.
Email Dr. Graham at Stacey.Graham@mtsu.edu

Native American History in the UK & Ireland, May 28-June 19
Come spend three weeks exploring the transnational history of Native North Americans in London, Belfast, and Dublin. Students will immerse themselves in the experience of being foreign visitors as they consider how unfamiliar people have encountered, interpreted, and misinterpreted Native Americans in the UK and Ireland since the sixteenth century.
Email Dr. Riley Sousa at Ashley.RiseySousa@mtsu.edu

Ireland 1916/2016, June 7-19
Join this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet academics and public historians involved in the centenary commemorations of the Irish Easter Rising of 1916, a seminal event in the history of Irish nationhood. Students will visit historical sites, archives, and museums in Dublin, Belfast, and Galway, meet the people who direct and interpret these sites, and attend an academic conference on the global context of Ireland’s 1916.
Email Dr. Doyle at Mark.Doyle@mtsu.edu

Public Memory and the Vietnam War, May 13-27
By traveling to Vietnam on this customized tour, our students will study history “on the ground” where it happened, as well as evaluating the historical literature, popular culture (including fiction, music, and film), and the cultural approaches to warfare.
Email Dr. Derek Frisby at Derek.Frisby@mtsu.edu

Cultural Ecology, March 4-13 (Spring Break)
Historically and spatially examine the symbolic relationship between the people and their natural environment in what the UN says is the “happiest” country in the world. From the volcanic mountains of north central Costa Rica to the beaches of the Pacific you will explore it all.
Email Dr. Doug Heffington at Doug.Heffington@mtsu.edu

24th Annual Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium

26 Oct

Wednesday October 28 and Thursday October 29, the 24th Annual Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium will be held on the MTSU campus in the James Union Building.


This years theme is “Voting Rights 1965-2015: Commemorating 50 Years”

Paper sessions will be held on both Wednesday and Thursday. For the conference schedule go to http://www.mtsu.edu/soc/socsymp/docs/2015_USSS_Program.pdf

This years Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Bernard Lafayette and he will be speaking on Thursday October 29 from 1:00- 2:20 in the James Union Building


Bernard LaFayette, Jr. has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change. He co- founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. He was a leader of the Nashville Movement, 1960, and the Freedom Rides, 1961 and the 1965 Selma Movement.

He directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962, and he was appointed National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor Peoples’ Campaign by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. LaFayette has served as Director of Peace and Justice in Latin America; Chairperson of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development; Director of the PUSH Excel Institute; and minister of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tuskegee, Alabama.

An ordained minister, Dr. LaFayette earned the B.A. from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Ed.M. and Ed.D. from Harvard University. He served on the faculties of Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and Alabama State University in Montgomery, where he was Dean of the Graduate School. He was principal of Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama and a teaching fellow at Harvard University.

His publications include the Curriculum and Training Manual for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Community Leadership Training Program, his doctoral thesis, Pedagogy for Peace and Nonviolence, and Campus Ministries and Social Change in the ’6o’s (Duke Divinity Review) and The Leaders Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence with David Jehnsen. Bernard LaFayette has traveled extensively to many countries as a lecturer and consultant on peace and nonviolence.

Dr. LaFayette is a former President of the American Baptist College of ABT Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee; Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia; and Pastor emeritus of the Progressive Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He was founder and director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island from 1998 until 2006.

Since 2006, he has held the position of Distinguished Senior Scholar in Residence at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He is chairman of the Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is married to the former Kate Bulls and is the father of two sons.

He is the National Civil Rights Museum’s National Freedom Award recipient for 2012. The following statement was made when the award was presented: “He never stopped believing in the future even when he was arrested with other riders in Jackson, Mississippi and jailed in Parchman State Prison Farm in 1961.”

He is the author of the newly published “In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma”. Congressman John Lewis, in his foreword to the book, states, “A powerful history of struggle, commitment, and hope. No one, but no one, who lived through the creation and development of the movement for voting rights in Selma is better prepared to tell this story than Bernard LaFayette himself.”

Gerhard Weinberg will be speaking at the Holocaust Studies Conference on the MTSU campus!

19 Oct


Gerhard Weinberg, MTSU’s first Strickland Scholar, earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1951 and taught at a number of universities including the University of Kentucky, the Air Force Academy and most significantly the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill from which he retired in 1999. He is the preeminent scholar of World War II. In a time when scholarship is becoming more and more specialized and narrow, he takes on the entire globe. He has won the George Beer prize of the American Historical Association twice, once for A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II and once for his two-volume study of Hitler’s Foreign policy. In December 2004 the History Channel announced that its second highest special for that year was “Hitler’s Lost Plan,” a documentary about Gerhard Weinberg’s discovery of Adolf Hitler’s sequel to Mein Kampf in the archives. In 2009 he was chosen to receive the prestigious Pritzger prize for military history along with a check for $100,000. In addition he has won the Halverson prize of the German Studies Association, awards from the Society for Military History, the Hoover Book Award and the coveted Samuel Eliot Morrison award for Military History from the Society for Military History. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from universities in the U.S. and Europe and was appointed Research Analyst for the War Documentation Project. He has served as President of a number of professional organizations, including the German Studies Association and the European Section of the Southern Historical Association, has won a number of distinguished fellowships and served as the Shapiro Senior Scholar in Residence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On October 22nd Gerhard L. Weinberg will present an innovative approach to Holocaust scholarship in a plenary session titled “The Holocaust After 70 Years”. In addition, Professor Gerhard Weinberg has agreed to present a second public lecture titled “World War II: An Entirely Different War.” at Adams Place on Tuesday, October 20th at 4:00 pm. It also is free and open to the general public. Adams Place is located at 1927 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro, TN. A selection of Professor Weinberg’s books will also be available for purchase in the Phillips bookstore and he will be able to sign them after his lectures.


Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Hitler’s Foreign Policy 19331939: The Road to World War II (New York: Enigma Books, 2005)

A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

World in the Balance (Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 1981)

Strickland Scholar Dr. Alan Taylor will be at MTSU on Monday October 19!

16 Oct

Strickland Lecture Series Event

Race & Violence in the American Revolution

An evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Dr. Alan Taylor 

Thomas Jefferson Chair in American History, University of Virginia 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lecture 7:00 pm

State Farm Room in the Business & Aerospace Building

Reception & Refreshments at 6:00 pm 

Book signing to follow lecture


Alan Taylor graduated from Colby College in 1977. After serving as a researcher for historic preservation in the United States Virgin Islands, he received his Ph.d in American History from Brandeis University in 1986.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Early American History and Culture, he taught in the history department at Boston University from 1987 to 1994.  Beginning in 1994, he was a professor at the University of California at Davis. In August 2014, he began his position as the Thomas Jefferson Chair in American History at the University of Virginia. He is also active in California State Social Science and History Project.  This project provides curriculum support for K-12 teachers in history and social studies.  In 2002 he won the University of California at Davis Award for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement and the Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California Association, Teaching Excellence Award.


Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820 (1990)

 William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, (1995)

 American Colonies (2001)

 Writing Early American History (2005)

 The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution (2006)

 The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (2010)

 The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia (2013)

Note: The information provided above came from Dr. Taylor’s faculty page. Further information can be found at http://history.virginia.edu/user/400

The 12th biennial MTSU multi-disciplinary International Holocaust Studies Conference, Oct. 21-23!

15 Oct

The 12th biennial MTSU multi-disciplinary International Holocaust Studies Conference will convene in the JUB October 21-23, 2015. Scholars from five of the six inhabited continents will journey to MTSU to deliver papers and presentations on a wide variety of Genocide and Holocaust topics that are pertinent to almost all MTSU disciplines and programs. Paper sessions include such diverse topics as Alabama and the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, Jewish and gentile protest humor, genocide in Argentina and Ukraine, Sports heroes as rescuers, Eastern Europe in the Holocaust, Women and gender in the camps, literary and film studies, Euthanasia and others. In addition, special programming for teachers and education students will be presented on October 20th in the Education building.

The entire conference is free and open to all MTSU students, faculty and staff. In addition, all featured Conference sessions are free and open to the general public. The link below to the Holocaust Studies Program website provides a complete conference schedule of all conference presentation.


Three prominent scholars have been invited as featured speakers for the conference. All three featured plenary sessions will include questions from and conversations with the audience.

Because 2015 is the centenary of the Armenian genocide, on October 21st Richard Hovannisian, a nationally recognized authority on Armenia, will offer a featured retrospective lecture called “The Armenian Genocide on its Centennial: What Have We Learned?”

On October 22nd Gerhard L. Weinberg, an internationally acclaimed scholar for his global history of World War II as well as his work in foreign policy and Holocaust Studies, will present an innovative approach to Holocaust scholarship in a plenary session titled “The Holocaust After 70 Years”. In addition, Professor Gerhard Weinberg has agreed to present a second public lecture titled “World War II: An Entirely Different War.” at Adams Place on Tuesday, October 20th at 4:00 pm. It also is free and open to the general public. Adams Place is located at 1927 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro, TN.

On October 23rd, MTSU will feature a evocative performance of Holocaust verse by renowned poet Jacquline Osherow who will read from her Holocaust poetry in a session titled   “Orders of Infinity: Poems of the Holocaust.”

Another featured conference session will focus on the experiences of Frances Cutler Hahn, a child Holocaust survivor in France and Guy Fortney who was a witness to the liberation of the Ohrdruf concentration camp, part of the Buchenwald camp complex. It was the first of the camps to be liberated by American troops. Both Fortney and Hahn will include visual evidence in the form of slides to illustrate their presentations. A featured panel on survivor literature immediately before the Hahn/Fortney session will include another survivor presentation by Sonja DuBois, a hidden child in the Netherlands during the Holocaust. In addition, there will be a featured panel discussion on the Armenian genocide that will include Hovannisian and two distinguished genocide scholars.

All featured conference presentations are free and open to the general public as well as the MTSU community.

We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to attend this important conference.


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