Introducing the Department of History

The University of Missouri department of History has a reputation for excellence, both on the MU campus and beyond. The stellar teaching record of its faculty has been recognized numerous times by awards such as the campus-wide William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence–nine past and present History faculty members have received this prestigious teaching award. History faculty have also been recognized for outstanding teaching by winning over twenty-three different teaching awards, including the College of Arts and Science Purple Chalk Award which is student-generated.

The department averages between 350-450 undergraduate history majors. We nurture these aspiring young historians by, first of all, providing them with expert advising, delivered by a professional, full-time, advisor. Our majors are given a wide range of courses in American, European, and Developing World history. Required capstone and writing intensive courses provide the opportunity for our students to interact closely with faculty members and to develop their research and writing skills. Beyond the classroom, the department offers its majors the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working as interns in any one of our nine internship programs that range from the University of Missouri Archives to the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri Library.

Our graduate students come to us from a broad cross-section of colleges and universities. They are attracted to our MA and PhD programs by the reputation of our faculty, many of whom have been the recipients of prestigious research grant awards from, among others, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The National Science Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research/Study Program. In addition, our faculty members have published an impressive array of books and articles, a number of which have won prestigious awards from the American Historical Association and other professional organizations. Our graduate students work closely with their faculty advisors as they develop and write theses and dissertations on a wide range of topics. One significant measure of the success of our graduate program is our placement record. In recent years, over fifty of our PhD recipients have found teaching position in colleges and universities throughout the country.

By using the resources provided by this web site, potential undergraduate students can browse our course offerings; view the requirements for a major in history and explore the scholarship opportunities. Those interested in pursuing a graduate degree (MA or PhD), might wish to start with the home pages of individual faculty to learn about their respective teaching and research interests. There is also a listing of the various fields in which the department offers graduate degrees. One can also generate a description of degree requirements and application forms for graduate study in history.

As a Land Grant institution, the University of Missouri offers the citizens of the state a valuable source of information, in this case, pertaining to history. The faculty home pages and research field pages can be used to identify and contact individual faculty members

We especially welcome our alumni/ae and friends of the department and ask that you explore our web site further. There you will find news of fellow alums as well as past issues of the department newsletter. If you wish, you can be included on our e-mail list to receive the newsletter as it appears in approximately three-month intervals.

Pease contact us and let us know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you.

John Wigger, Chair
Department of History



The Department of History faculty listed below earned campus and system-wide awards for academic year 2012-2013. Congratulation to you all!

Jerry Frank Assistant Professor Jerry Frank – Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award. To recognize junior faculty for superior teaching and advising on the MU campus.

Ilyana Karthas Assistant Professor Ilyana Karthas – Maxine Christopher Shutz Award and Lecture. Presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated extra efforts to involve undergraduates in active learning experiences and to personalize the undergraduate experience of students.

Steve Watts Professor Steve Watts – Thomas Jefferson Award. The Thomas Jefferson Award recognizes faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction in teaching, research, writing, creative activities, and service to the University of Missouri and humankind.

Ian Worthington Professor Ian Worthington - Curators’ Distinguished Professor. These are prestigious positions, and only outstanding scholars with established reputations will be considered for appointment.


R.S. McFarland Victor R.S. McFarland is a historian of the United States and the World, and will begin teaching at Missouri in fall 2014. He earned his B.A. from Stanford University and his M.A. and M.Phil. degrees from Yale University. Victor is currently completing his Ph.D. at Yale, and is also serving as a predoctoral fellow with the University of Virginia's Miller Center. During the 2013-14 academic year, he will be a postdoctoral fellow with the Dickey Center at Dartmouth College. Victor’s dissertation examines the oil crisis of the 1970s and its consequences for the American relationship with the Arab world. This project is based on research conducted in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. At Missouri, Victor will teach courses on topics including American history, U.S. foreign relations, energy and natural resources, and the modern Middle East

department news:

We are pleased to announce that Jerritt “Jerry” Frank, Assistant Professor of History, has accepted an offer for the Faculty Fellow position in Mizzou Advantage effective June 1, 2014. He is looking forward to working with the Mizzou Advantage team to advance the Mizzou Advantage initiatives and the MU Strategic Operating Plan.


Steven Watts has been invited to give a presentation at the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley research institute and think tank, on Monday, April 21. He will speak to a seminar of 35 government and business leaders from the United States and Europe, who will be discussing and debating "The Future of Work" in the 21st century. Watts has been invited to give a talk on "Henry Ford and Scientific Management: The Transformation of Labor a Century Ago" to help provide a historical context for considering present and future issues regarding the changing nature of work in the digital age.


Professor Jonathan Sperber's Marx biography finalist for The 2014 Pulitzer Prize

Biography or Autobiography
For a distinguished and appropriately documented biography or autobiography by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Awarded to "Margaret Fuller: A New American Life," by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a richly researched book that tells the remarkable story of a 19th century author, journalist, critic and pioneering advocate of women’s rights who died in a shipwreck.

Finalists
Also nominated as finalists in this category were "Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World," by Leo Damrosch (Yale University Press), a seminal work that illuminates the famous yet enigmatic satirist who was also a crucial figure in 18th century Anglo-Irish politics; and "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life," by Jonathan Sperber (Liveright), an impressively researched work that provides a fresh perspective on Marx and his ideas by placing him in the social and intellectual swirl of the 1800s.


New faculty members

Cheehyung (Harrison) Kim
Harrison Kim, currently an ACLS Fellow at Duke University, is the department’s new Assistant Professor and Korea Foundation Professor of History. Harrison earned his PhD at Columbia University in 2010. His research is historical, ethnographic, and transnational in approach and focuses on modern East Asia and in particular North Korea. His book manuscript based on his dissertation The Furnace is Breathing: Work and Everyday Life in North Korea, 1953-1961 is under consideration at Harvard University Press and Cambridge University Press. We are pleased to welcome Harrison who will join in this fall.

Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang
The department is pleased to announce that Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang will be joining our faculty in fall 2015 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of East Asian History. Dominic earned his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2012 and is currently a resident postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He main interests are in Chinese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong history, diaspora, collective memory, trauma, and identity formation.

Dominic is the recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral research grant for his trans-Pacific China project which examines Chinese migration across the Pacific during the Cold War. Although this grant obligates him to postpone his start date with us for a year, it is quite an honor for him and the department is happy support his professional development.


The Forum on Constitutional Democracy invites applications for the Claudia Kren Post-Doctoral Fellowship and the Noble Cunningham Research Fellowship.

The Forum on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri is a collaborative project between the Political Science and History Departments and is supported by the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. The mission of the Forum is to promote teaching and scholarship on the American constitutional and democratic traditions, broadly construed to include both the origins of those traditions and their applications and reinterpretations in later periods and around the world.

Application guidelines for each of these opportunities may be found here:


Rocky Mountain Making Rocky Mountain National Park

On September 4, 1915, hundreds of people gathered in Estes Park, Colorado, to celebrate the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park. This new nature preserve held the promise of peace, solitude, and rapture that many city dwellers craved. As Jerry Frank demonstrates, however, the park is much more than a lovely place.

Frank first takes readers back to the late 19th century, when Colorado boosters--already touting the Rocky Mountains' restorative power for lung patients--set out to attract more tourists and generate revenue for the state. He then describes how an ecological perspective came to Rocky in fits and starts, offering a new way of imagining the park that did not sit comfortably with an entrenched management paradigm devoted to visitor recreation and comfort.

Frank examines a wide range of popular activities including driving, hiking, skiing, fishing, and wildlife viewing to consider how they have impacted the park's flora and fauna, often leaving widespread transformation in their wake. He subjects the decisions of park officials to close but evenhanded scrutiny, showing how in their zeal to return the park to what they understood as its natural state, they have tinkered with its features--sometimes with less than desirable results.

Today's Rocky Mountain National Park serves both competing visions, maintaining accessible roads and vistas for the convenience of tourists while guarding its backcountry to preserve ecological values. As the park prepares to celebrate its centennial, Frank's book advances our understanding of its past while also providing an important touchstone for addressing its problems in the present and future.


Self-Help Messiah Self-Help Messiah - An illuminating biography of the man who taught Americans “how to win friends and influence people”

Before Stephen Covey, Oprah Winfrey, and Malcolm Gladwell there was Dale Carnegie. His book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, became a best seller worldwide, and Life magazine named him one of “the most important Americans of the twentieth century.” This is the first full-scale biography of this influential figure.

Dale Carnegie was born in rural Missouri, his father a poor farmer, his mother a successful preacher. To make ends meet he tried his hand at various sales jobs, and his failure to convince his customers to buy what he had to offer eventually became the fuel behind his future glory. Carnegie quickly figured out that something was amiss in American education and in the ways businesspeople related to each other. What he discovered was as simple as it was profound: Understanding people’s needs and desires is paramount in any successful enterprise. Carnegie conceived his book to help people learn to relate to one another and enrich their lives through effective communication. His success was extraordinary, so hungry was 1920s America for a little psychological insight that was easy to apply to everyday affairs.

Self-help Messiah tells the story of Carnegie’s personal journey and how it gave rise to the movement of self-help and personal reinvention.


Call for Papers - Mid America Medieval Association (MAMA) 38 “The Global Middle Ages”:

Where: The University of Missouri and Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri
When: February 22, 2014
Theme: The Global Middle Ages
Plenary Address: Sahar Amer, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Sydney
“Reading Medieval French Literature from a Global Perspective”

Click here to see the flyer for details.


Faculty Opening: The Department of History is currently conducting a search for a historian of East Asia. Our colleague, Soon Ong, will be leaving the university this December to take a teaching position in Singapore.


Read the latest Viewed Historically, our friends and alumni newsletter (pdf).


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