Thursday, November 20, 2014

Master's Student Lauren Van Zandt Presents at Professional Conference

Our students do some pretty amazing things during their time with us, and we want to feature them here on our blog. Most recently, we introduced you to Abby Kirstein, a second-year Public History graduate student who spent last summer in Utah working for the Bureau of Land Management (and got to do some dinosaur bone digging).

Now we'd like to introduce you to Lauren Van Zandt. Lauren is also a second-year Public History graduate student. We've featured Lauren on our blog before, as she also happens to be one of our graduate assistants.

In October, Lauren had the extraordinary opportunity of presenting her scholarly research at a professional conference--a conference where the attendees are primarily professionals in the field of studio art and art history (e.g. curators, professors, etc.).

We asked Lauren to tell us a little bit about how she ended up getting to go to the conference, as well as her experience while there.

lauren van zandt
Lauren Van Zandt

Hi, I’m Lauren Van Zandt, a second year student in Duquesne’s Public History MA program.  This October, I presented a paper at the Southeastern College Art Conference, or SECAC.

The road to SECAC actually started about a year ago with Dr. Julia Sienkewicz's Early American Painting and Sculpture class in the fall of 2013.  Our big project for the class was a research paper on a piece of art at the US Capitol.  I chose the Columbus Doors, which are located on the east side of the Capitol.  The doors, which date from the mid-1800s, are cast bronze and covered with relief sculpture depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  The highlight of the project was getting special access to see the doors in person at the Capitol.  (Due to security concerns, the area the doors are located in is completely inaccessible to the public.)  Pictures do not do these doors justice!

After completing my project, I presented a simplified version of my paper at the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference at Slippery Rock University in April of 2014.  This was basically a practice run for the main event, which turned out to be SECAC.

I actually applied to SECAC with very little expectation of my paper being accepted.  SECAC is a professional organizational, and most of the people I met there were professors, curators, and other people working in the studio and art history fields.  Once I got the email that my paper had been accepted (!?!?!?!), I immediately got to work adapting my paper and putting together my presentation.  Dr. Sienkewicz was very supportive and helpful in this process.

The 2014 SECAC conference was held in beautiful Sarasota, so while I wasn’t at the conference I got to explore the area, eating delicious seafood, visiting the Selby Botanical Gardens, and visiting with my parents who drove down to see me from my hometown in south Louisiana.

Presenting was somewhat intimidating because not only was I the only one on my panel who didn’t have a PhD, I also was the first person to speak.  Despite this, I survived the experience and even though I made a few mistakes, I don’t know that the audience even noticed.  People were very supportive and encouraging, and SECAC was a great opportunity to meet other grad students and professionals.  

I was able to cover the costs of travel and lodging for the conference with funding from the McAnulty Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University and through the Gulnar Bosch Student Travel Assistance Grant from SECAC.  Many conferences have travel scholarships available for students who are presenting, and I am so grateful to have gotten that support as well as the funding from Duquesne!

I had a great time at SECAC, and being able to present was an incredibly rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.  I would definitely encourage other students to apply to present at conferences- you never know what could happen!

Thanks, Lauren!
We're so proud of the work you're doing in our program and are thrilled that you had the experience to present at a professional conference!

For those of you who are interested in attending conferences as students, here is a helpful link that the Duquesne University Bookstore tweeted out this morning! 

And if you're a graduate student in the McAnulty Graduate School at Duquesne University, the Dean's Office offers up to $500 of funding for graduate students who present their work at conferences. Contact us for more information.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Explore Art History in Spring 2015!

Do you need to fulfill your Creative Arts theme area requirement next semester?

Have you ever wondered why Rembrandt took so many selfies?

Do you sometimes see a piece of art and think, "Why is that art?"

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then we've got a course for you! (And these are just *some* of our Art History courses we're offering. You can see all of our offerings here.)

(Click any photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dinosaur Bones: A Public History Graduate Student's Adventure

Second-year Public History graduate student Abby Kirstein takes an epic selfie at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Visitors Center in Price, Utah

It's no secret that our graduate students are pretty cool. And second-year Public History Program student Abby Kirstein is no exception.

Abby, who is originally from Bethel Park in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, studied History as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware. When a professor gave Abby the name of a woman at the Heinz History Center, she contacted her and interviewed the woman about the work she does. Afterwards, Abby thought, "How do I get HER job?!"

"Needless to say," says Abby, "she opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Public History!"

We asked Abby, who will be finishing her master's degree next semester, to tell us a little bit about why she decided to go into Public History and why she chose Duquesne for her graduate work. We also asked her to tell us about her incredible experience working this past summer with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in Price, Utah.

Abby in front of petroglyphs near the quarry site

"Following my undergraduate work I was looking for different ways in which I could use my history degree," says Abby. "Although teaching is a more than respectable route to take, I wasn't sure it was for me. I realized if I could combine my love of people, history, and creativity into one occupation, I would be the happiest gal alive!

"[The woman at the Heinz History Center] was the one who told me about Duquesne's program in Public History since the Heinz History Center had just recently hired a few graduates. I had always loved the thought of attending an urban school, but I never imagined I would get the chance to do it in my own city!" exclaims Abby. "After doing more research into the program, it seemed like a perfect fit. The size, location, and reputation of Duquesne won me over. This fairy tale ends with an application, an acceptance, and a wonderful experience..."

And then Abby had the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom.

"Over the summer of 2014, I was given the opportunity to work on an active dinosaur quarry called the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in Price, Utah. I was accepted into this position by applying to various federal facilities through their seasonal student programs. These programs are an amazing opportunity to gain work and travel experience all over the country," she explains. "My specific seasonal position was through the Bureau of Land Management and required me to assist with interpretation, visitors services, tours, outreach and educational programs, and, most importantly, actual paleontology digs at the quarry site."

Yup. Digging for dinosaur bones.

One of the quarry buildings at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

Inside one of the quarry buildings

"Even more than the Public History and exciting opportunities I was given at the site, I was also able to attend various federal training sessions to further my education as a historian," Abby goes on to say. "For example, through the BLM, I had the chance to attend a historic preservation training session in which I got to meet the head State Historic Preservation Officer of Utah, as well as some national board members. In addition, I trained with the head curator of the BLM Utah State Office, Nancy Mahaney, on cataloging an entire warehouse full of Native American artifacts. To this day, Ms. Mahaney gives me career advice and has remained a very good friend!"

We asked Abby if there was something she learned or experienced working with the BLM in Utah that really had an impact on her, that really made her stop and think, "I'd never have known or experienced this if I hadn't been here."

"I think what blew me away most, other than the amazing landscapes and people that Utah has to offer," she says, "is just the demand that there is out there for public historians. The Price, Utah BLM alone has lists and lists of sites that are in need of interpretation and management, not to mention the rest of Utah and the rest of the United States! Going into the Public History Program at Duquesne, I would have never thought of working for the federal government, but they are a huge supporter of not just natural sites, but architectural history, historic preservation, archaeology, anthropology, and archival work as well!

"There are so many opportunities out there," says Abby, "you just have to open your eyes, get creative, work hard, and prove yourself."

And Abby expresses her gratitude to the Public History graduate program for preparing her for this adventure. 

"Without [the Public History] program," she says, "I would have never had the confidence to drive across the country to take on such a challenging position. I never questioned my ability to assist sites like the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry because I've been given the proper professional training at Duquesne. I can't even explain how supportive my classmates and professors have been throughout this entire experience, and I look forward to more Public History adventures in the future!"

Abby hiking in a slot canyon near the quarry
Great work, Abby! We can't wait to hear about your next adventure!

And if you're around Duquesne's campus on Friday, November 7, 2014, from 2-3 p.m., Abby and a couple of our other graduate students will be presenting original research and scholarship at the poster session at Duquesne's 2nd Annual Graduate Student Research Symposium (GSRS) in the Power Center Ballroom (Section C). Stop by, meet Abby, and say hello! (The entire schedule can be found here.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Moving Targets" Art Exhibition at the Gumberg Library, Nov 10 - Dec 6

Gumberg Library will host an art exhibition that commemorates the 2014 centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. The exhibition, titled Moving Targets, will open on Nov. 10 and continue through Dec. 6.

“The exhibition parallels the plight of the passenger pigeon with that of the artists’ maternal lineage, piecing together the fragmented stories and forced migrations of both pigeons and Jews,” says artist Ann Rosenthal. The project is a collaboration between Rosenthal and Steffi Domike with Ruth Fauman Fichman and will also include 14 artists each representing a state within the former nesting range of the pigeon.

The exhibition corresponds to the common text selected for the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts learning communities, Joel Greenberg’s A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction.
The exhibition will be open to the public, though visitors are advised to call 412.396.6130 prior to coming.

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