Dear All –
It is my pleasure to greet the readers of the History Department newsletter. With abundant satisfaction, I can do so from McMahon Hall, the history department’s new home. Alumni will be familiar with many other locations for the (previously) nomadic history department – Gibbons Hall, University Center, Marist Hall and O’Boyle Hall. Having wandered the campus, the history department now has a permanent home in McMahon, with a window out to the center of campus and with rooms and meetings spaces for students to come, to spend time and to talk history.
Particular thanks is owed our Academic Specialist, Lisa Brennan, who did so much to supervise the move from one place to another.
We have many reasons to be happy about being in McMahon. One is the slow recovery everyone in academia has made from the COVID-19 pandemic, when classes shifted online, when in-person meetings became impossible and when many people experienced a diminished sense of community. Our goal is not merely to restore the feeling of community that we had prior to the pandemic. It is to go beyond what we had before and to make the History Department a locus for conviviality and for intellectual exchange. I hope that alumni will find their way back to campus and to our new digs. For those far away, we will continue working on virtual ways of connecting and keeping in touch.
Another reason to be glad about having an enticing common space is the tenor of the contemporary moment. Europe is in the midst of its first major war since 1945. Multiple wars are crisscrossing the Middle East, and the United States is entering an electoral season that will be of great consequence. None of these developments are yet history. Each of them can be understood through history. The vertiginous speed of current events calls out for historical context, for historical thinking, for historical judgment. We hope to meet this need in our classes, in our events and in conversations among students and faculty.
To be provoked by the present is not to be neglectful of the distant past. The Catholic University History Department has long excelled at the teaching and study of medieval history, a great strength of our faculty and a great enthusiasm of our students. This newsletter issue tells the story of Department alumni who are working in the domain of medieval history. As all our alumni do, they have carried what they learned on campus with them and out into the wider world. They have added to this learning and are now passing it on to future generations of students, an academic tradition that itself goes back to the medieval period.
Historians are especially attuned to continuity and change. While adjusting to a novel physical environment, faculty have been (as ever) enormously productive in their scholarship and eager to share the fruits of this scholarship in the classroom. This fall finds all of us looking forward to the upcoming year of teaching, of seeing our students move forward and of hearing from alumni about their forward movement.
Dr. Michael Kimmage, Chair