Monday, October 13, 2014

Student Spotlight: Angus Leydic

We're excited to continue our Student Spotlight Series with our first student of the 2014-2015 academic year: Angus Leydic. Angus is a double major in Art History and Spanish and will be graduating in May. We have no doubt that he'll go out and do amazing things in the world!

What year are you during 2014-2015? (i.e. freshman, sophomore, etc.)

I am a Senior at Duquesne.


My hometown is Portsmouth, NH, but I have lived most of my life in Pittsburgh, PA.

Why did you choose to double major in Art History and Spanish?

I originally wanted to study languages and culture because I was always interested in seeing how the world works and how people view the world coming from different backgrounds.  After taking an Art History class in Spain, I rediscovered my love for art and decided to pick it up.  Art being an expression of a culture, just like literature, allowed me to connect with different time periods, and learn more about each country's ideology.

What's been your favorite Art History class so far and why?

My favorite Art History class so far has been ARHY 217 -Religion, Reason & Visual Culture.  I loved working with different expressions of religion in different periods.  It allowed us to understand more about what can make art an expression of faith and make connections to faith from otherwise secular-looking works.

What area of Art History are you most interested in?

Since I have taken many classes on Medieval Art, I am really excited to see more from Baroque and Romanticism.

Favorite Movie: 

Girl, Interrupted

Favorite Book: 

El manuscrito de piedra by Luis GarcĂ­a Jambrina

Favorite Historical Period:​ 

The Early, High and Late Middle Ages, but it really changes for History, Art, Literature, etc.!

Little Known Fact About You: 

Although I study Art History, I am not a very good artist at all!

Extracurricular Activities while at Duquesne:

I am a student ambassador for Alumni Relations, a Spanish Tutor, a part of the Art/History society, a former ESL conversation partner and much more!

What are your plans (or your dreams) for after you finish your Bachelor's degree?​

My dream would be to watch Netflix in bed all day until I am 65 years old and can retire, but my plans are to go back to Europe to teach English for a year and then move on to the next step in higher education. We'll see what happens!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Faculty Spotlight: Meet Dr. Philipp Stelzel

Dr. Philipp Stelzel, Assistant Professor of History
Area of specialization: Modern Europe

We are pleased to announce the addition of Assistant Professor Dr. Philipp Stelzel to our full-time faculty here in the Department of History! Dr. Stelzel joined us in August 2014 after a position at Boston College.

We asked Dr. Stelzel to tell us a little bit about himself. Here's what he had to say:

1. Why did you become an historian?

I had an excellent history teacher during my last two years of high school. He taught us that history is more about interpretation than about memorization. After graduating from high school, I did a year of community service (in 1990s Germany a possible alternative to the then compulsory military service), helping elderly people who were living by themselves with their daily tasks. When I wasn’t working, I’d read whatever history book I came across. After the year was over, I still liked history, so I decided to study it at the University of Munich (my hometown).

2. If you weren't a history professor, what would you do for a living?

In high school, I participated in a theater group, and I wanted to be an actor. But I soon realized I wasn’t cut out for it. I guess if I wasn’t a history professor, I’d work as a journalist, writing about all kinds of things in a semi-informed way.

3. Tell us a little bit about your educational background. Why did you choose the particular institutions you did?

I first attended the University of Munich for four years. I’d heard good things about the university’s history department, but I’d also grown up in Munich and had no desire to move away. After four years, I really wanted to study abroad. During a visit in New York City, I had met the professor who taught German history at Columbia University, and very much wanted to work with him. Thanks to a generous Fulbright fellowship, I was able to do it. Needless to say, the thought of spending a year in New York was also exciting. I left Columbia with an M.A. and returned to Germany. A year later, I was back to do a PhD, this time at the University of North Carolina. I’d decided about a dissertation project, and a professor at UNC liked the idea and agreed to be my adviser. It took me a while to adjust to the small-town life, but I ultimately really enjoyed it. UNC was also the right place for me because of its supportive atmosphere (both the faculty and the other grad students were great). This is what you need to make it through the grad student years.

4. Where did you live before you moved here to Pittsburgh? What do you miss most about that place/those places?

I grew up in Munich, and I still spend most of my summers there. Munich has a reputation for being posh and boring, but there’s much beyond that surface. Apart from my family and some of my old friends (who still live there), I miss biking through town and running along the river Isar. I’m less excited about NYC than I used to be, but I still enjoy visiting. Much to my surprise, I do miss Chapel Hill, NC—both because of it’s a very livable small town and because of the great people I met there. Before moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve lived in Boston for two years. Except for its annoying sports fans, I absolutely loved it. A run along the Charles always made me happy. I had an excellent bookstore three minutes from my apartment in Brookline, and a low key Irish pub almost as close. And then there was that direct flight to Munich. All things considered: wicked pissah!

Dr. Stelzel at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

5. What about Pittsburgh excites you? Is there something here that you're really interested in or have loved experiencing so far?

I’m a fan of rivers, and I enjoy looking at Pittsburgh from one of the many bridges. And I’m really excited about the different neighborhoods. Bloomfield and Lawrenceville are two of my favorites so far, but I realize that after six weeks I don’t really know that much.

6. What book would you recommend that every student of history read?

One book every student should read is Thinking the Twentieth Century, based on conversations between the late British historian Tony Judt and his colleague Timothy Snyder. It is partly Judt’s memoir, partly insightful reflection on Europe in the twentieth century.

Dr. Stelzel in front of Old Professor's Bookshop in Belfast, Maine

7. What is your favorite book (history-related or not)?

I don’t have one favorite book. Two of books that have really moved me are Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road, a novel from the early 1960s, about the aspirations and disappointments of a young couple, and Michael Carroll’s Little Reef, a collection of stories that came out this year, about gay men and the women who put up with them.

8. What is your favorite movie?

Again, it’s hard to settle on one. I guess it depends on my mood. The movie I’ve watched most often—and still enjoy—is Indien, an Austrian satire about two state officials that turns into a moving but not sentimental story about friendship. I also very much liked Fargo (Frances McDormand) and Brokeback Mountain (Jake Gyllenhaal!).

9. What is your favorite historical period or moment?

Another difficult question. My favorite (short) historical period might be the 14 years of the Weimar Republic. An exciting decade and a half, culturally, politically, and otherwise, full of democratic hopes and aspirations, as well as crises and violence. Though it ended with the rise of the Nazis, it is also a reminder that in history very few things are inevitable. 

10. What historical event have you experienced so far that has had the most profound impact on you, and why?

Certainly 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. As a twelve year-old kid, I certainly wasn’t able to fully comprehend what was happening, but I was nevertheless fascinated by the rapid succession of events. Several families who had fled East Germany a few weeks before the fall of the Wall were temporarily camping in our high school, so I felt like I was able some of the historic changes first-hand. 

11. Tell us a little-known-fact about you.

Little-known facts are usually boring or scandalous—which is why they should remain little-known.

12. If you could create a course to teach--about anything--what would it be?

“Europe and the United States in the Twentieth Century””—a course on their political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual relations, from European-American philosophical debates about socialism in the early twentieth century to controversies about European “anti-Americanism” in the early twenty-first century. Teaching the course in the United States as a European professor is particularly interesting.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Spring Break Away 2015: "The Grand Tour" -- Florence and Rome

Believe it or not, registration for Spring 2015 will be here before you know it. And now is a great time to start thinking about taking advantage of and planning for a great Spring Break Away course!

Professor: Dr. Julia Sienkewicz        
604A College Hall                 

Pre-requisites: None

Course: ARHY 326W – The Grand Tour
Satisfies CORE Theme Area: Creative Arts AND one of your Writing Intensive courses

Class time: Tuesdays/Thursdays 3:05 – 4:20pm

Cost: $2900

From the seventeenth through the nineteenth century, travelers headed to Italy (and other European destinations) in search of authentic experiences of art, cities, and culture. Considered a final step in the education of intellectuals, artists, architects, and noblemen, these “grand tour” experiences could be brief or could sometimes extend to a lifetime of ex-patriot learning. No matter the duration, the grand tour left an indelible experience on its participants. Encounters with Ancient and Renaissance Art, other cultured travelers, foreign customs and unfamiliar environments, transformed these travelers’ understanding of history, aesthetics, and, ultimately, of themselves.

In Spring 2015, Duquesne University students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of the Grand Tour from an art historical perspective. Across the course of the semester, students will learn about the history of these journeys, the fascinating stories of different travelers, and will also study works of art created through artists’ grand tour experiences and encounters. Through a cast of colorful characters, timeless sites, and significant works of art, students will learn about a significant period of art history and also gain a deep understanding of western European civilization across these centuries.

The highlight of this class will be our spring breakaway tour to the Italian cities of Florence and Rome. Three nights in Florence and four nights in Rome will allow the students to have their own grand tours in miniature. We will follow in the footsteps of history’s great travelers, enjoying such enduring destinations as the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s David—and we’ll learn to see these sites through the eyes of period viewers.

Students will also discover the more hidden gems of these cities, along with expert faculty and local guides. These will include a visit to a nineteenth-century sculptor’s studio in Florence, where they will experience the vibrant ex-patriot artist community still working there. We’ll also tour the so-called English Cemetery in Florence, the final resting place of many less-fortunate grand tourists, and an enduring monument to the cultures and communities of these travelers. Highlights of the tour will also include visits to noble estates (now turned museums), at which we will remember the elite families that influenced grand tourist’s experiences, as well as homes and estates created to house and support the studies and collections of such travelers. These destinations will likely include the Pitti Palace of the Medici, the Villa Torlonia, and the Museo Stibbert.

For more information, contact Dr. Julia Sienkewicz

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Katie Barbera, Public History '14

Katie Barbera, Public History Graduate Program Alumna '14
Archival Assistant, Time-Based Media Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art
We're delighted to kick off our Alumni Spotlight Series with recent graduate Katie Barbera. Katie studied Public History in our graduate program and graduated in May 2014. Less than five months after her diploma was in hand, she found herself as an Archival Assistant at the renowned Carnegie Museum of Art.

Learn more about Katie on the Carnegie Museum of Art's blog. Congratulations, Katie, and well done!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Get Your History Swag!

Do you love History? Are you a History major or minor? A graduate student? Maybe you're an alum! Get your Department of History merchandise now!

We've partnered with Promos on Campus to provide some wonderful products that show our Department of History pride! Order yours at the website below. Please note: minimum quantities are needed, so spread the word! 

Items can be delivered to your home (extra charge) or to the Department of History (free) for pick-up. 

Stock up!

Get your holiday shopping done early!

Show your pride!

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Graduation May 2014

It's hard to believe another academic year has come to an end. We're so proud of our students who graduated last week and wish them all much success, happiness, and health! Here are a few highlights from the Saturday, May 10, 2014, diploma ceremony. Enjoy! And we'll see you back here in August for the start of a new academic year!

graduate students
some of our graduate students posing prior to the ceremony

student and faculty members
Gannam Rifkah, one of our History majors, was the recipient of the General Excellence Award for the McAnulty College and Graduate School. Here he poses with Department Chair, Dr. Jay Dwyer, and Associate Professor of History, Dr. Holly Mayer.

student giving speech
General Excellence Award recipient and History major, Gannam Rifkah, speaks to the crowd.

Dual degree student, Christina Loscalzo, smiles for the camera. Christina earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.

student with diploma
History major Gesue Staltari poses with his diploma. Gesue was the recipient of the Jean E. Hunter Award for Writing History.

student with diploma
Shannon Smith, one of our History majors, poses with her diploma. Shannon was the recipient of the Erik Gerhard Student Resource Grant this year, an award given to rising student scholars in the field of History.

student with diploma
Historical Studies graduate student Zachary DeBacco gives a big smile as he walks off stage after receiving his diploma. Zach is considering a PhD program in the fall of 2014.

student with diploma
Despite the slight bluriness, Art History and History double major, Abigail Jones, is all smiles after receiving her diploma! During her time in the Department of History, Abby received the Erik Gerhard Student Resource Grant and the Giorgio Vasari Award for Excellence in Art History.

student and professor
David Harkleroad, a graduate student in the Historical Studies Program, poses with Associate Professor Holly Mayer after the ceremony. David holds a graduation gift given to him by Dr. Mayer. Both David and Dr. Mayer are military members (David currently in the Army and Dr. Mayer retired from the Army), and the two formed a unique friendship and bond as a result. We thank them both for their service to our country.

students and employee
Current Public History student and graduate assistant Carrie Hadley (left), recent Public History graduate and graduate assistant Aaron O'Data (center), and Department of History Administrative Assistant Laura Donaldson (right) pose for a "selfie" after the ceremony. 

David Harkleroad and Aaron O'Data are all smiles on graduation day!