Friday, July 18, 2008

All hail the new chief!

Even by the relentlessly upbeat standards of this wee blog, it is worth noting that every single member of the What's Up team wishes to express their delight at news that Professor Valerie Korinek has agreed to serve as the new Head of the Department of History. Many of you already know Valerie, who is a distinguished historian of women in Canada with many publications to her name, and a fine teacher and colleague. Valerie's three-year term began July 1, and she has already moved into the Big Office and rolled her metaphorical sleeves up.

Excellence starts at the top in the History Department
, and Valerie's most immediate distinguished predecessor is Brett Fairbairn, an outstanding department head who left the seventh floor at the end of June to take on the more onerous and possibly almost as august post of
Provost and Vice-
President Academic
of the whole shebang, in which capacity he more or less runs this university. And rightly so.

Obviously, historians should always be in charge of everything, and so it is especially fine to report that a historian finally is.

Especially seeing as how its Brett. Brett Fairbairn led us from strength to strength and left us in fine shape -- to the extent that he has left us. He may wear a suit more often, but he remains, of course, a Professor of History and a fully paid-up member of this department. For his past and future service and for our ongoing ties, we are most grateful.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

We here at What's Up and all our colleagues in the History Department are delighted to welcome Robert Englebert as our newest faculty member. Robert joins us from the University of Ottawa, to which he will return briefly this fall to defend his doctoral dissertation, Beyond Borders: Mental Mapping and the French River World in North America, 1763–1805”.

Denizens of the French River World, flinging in earnest

We mention this partly by way of introducing Robert Englebert to the far-flung What's Up community, but also to alert the less flung among you to the possibility that you might like to take a fling with his History 450.6, "French Canada Before 1800".

History 450.6 is an honours seminar that explores French North America writ large, from the European settlements on the shores of the St. Lawrence River to a sprawling French Atlantic empire that included the marshes of New Orleans, the gateway to the West in St. Louis, the sugar islands of the Caribbean, and the winding river valleys of the Canadian northwest. Students will soak up life on the powerful river highways of this continent that captured the imaginations of thousands of young men, who set out seeking work and high (if sometimes damp) adventure. The rivers they traveled, the peoples they encountered, the women they married, and the settlements they built came to define much of the interior of North America for nearly two hundred years. The French and the British both came as strangers to strange lands, but they quickly developed far different patterns of settlement. Among the French, policies of alliance and accommodation underscored numerous mixed unions with native women, which solidified alliances and gave rise to new peoples. French North America was very much about new encounters and old friends, and thus this course will explore the processes of interaction and m├ętissage in its different forms throughout the French river world.

And speaking of new encounters .... Why not enroll in History 450.6 and see for yourself just how cooly the river runs through it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

History, like Rust, never sleeps. Which is why the History Department keeps on developing fresh new courses for your scholarly delectation.

A "Special Topics" course is a designation reserved for new courses being offered on a one-off or trial basis. Courses numbered x99.6 or x98.3 are Special Topics courses. Sometimes, Special Topics courses arise because a faculty member is new to the department, and once they settle in their x98.3 and x99.6 courses will be converted to permanent status. More often, a Special Topics course represents a new departure for an established faculty member, usually in line with their recent research. These courses (which are fully developed and pass through a rigorous approval system at the departmental, college, and university level before joining our other distinguished course offerings) offer students the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research and analysis, and give faculty the opportunity to present their latest ideas to a discerning audience of learners whose own inputs and responses are likely, in turn, to shape the instructor's thoughts on the matter. After all, teaching something is one of the best ways to learn something.

Having said all that, we have a number of fresh and exciting Speical Topics courses on offer for the coming regular season of 2008-09, including the following new, multi-media honours seminar that draws on John McCannon's expertise in bringing film, literature, art, and music to bear on the political, social, and historical realities of the USSR under Lenin and Stalin:


Enlist NOW for
History 498.2 (section 2)
Utopia in Power: Soviet Art and Culture, 1917-1953

2008-2009 Term 2 (winter 2009)
Monday @ 10:30-1:20pm
(note unusual time slot!)