Links to the Past

Fall 2011

In This Issue:


Journay of History

History Student Journal Wins National Award and Publishes New Volume

The History Department is proud to announce that the 2010 volume of its student publication, The Forum: A Journal of History, won two prestigious prizes from the Phi Alpha Theta honor society. The Forum earned the first-place award in national competition in the category of online publications and third place in the category of print publications. 

The Forum, established in 2008, is the scholarly journal of Cal Poly’s Alpha Nu Gamma chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. While it is associated with the Cal Poly History Department and advised by a History faculty member, the journal is managed and produced from start to finish by undergraduate and graduate students who provide its submissions and make up its editorial board.

During 2010-11, Joycelyn Cheung served as executive editor of the Undergraduate Division and Justin McCollum as executive editor of the Graduate Division. Emily Cassie, Michelle Oga, and Kate Triglia worked as undergraduate members of the editorial board, while Shawn Greenelsh, Sylvan Levin, and Daniel Slusser served on the board as graduate members.

Professor Molly Loberg, the journal’s interim faculty advisor during Professor Tom Trice’s absence this spring, notes that The Forum not only connects undergraduate and graduate students but also connects academic and extracurricular education. For the student editors, the journal demands various skills learned through history coursework: communication, organization, collaboration, and intellectual creativity. Loberg also points out that The Forum provides a venue vehicle for students to transform themselves into true practitioners of research and writing. The publication enables student authors to remain “committed and engaged with their research topics beyond their classes,” Loberg explains, and to refine their writing “toward a polished, final product.”

The Forum published its third volume at the end of the spring 2011 quarter. A launch party to celebrate the new issue took place May 25 at ARTS Space Obispo and included students, faculty, and friends of the History Department.

History Grad Selected to Teach Social Studies in Mississippi

Emily Cassie (2011), a graduating senior from Campbell, Calif., has been selected by Teach for America to serve for two years as a social studies teacher in the Mississippi Delta region. In June she was assigned to teach at Earle High School in the town of Earle, Arkansas. 

Even as a student at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Cassie knew she wanted to join Teach for America when she graduated college. What she didn’t know was that she would one day be teaching history. Cassie started at Cal Poly in 2007 as a business major, but she had a change of heart on the first day of her first business class. “The professor came in and asked the class, ‘How many of you are here because your main goal is to make money?’ I looked around the room and realized I was the only one not raising my hand. I knew I was in the wrong major,” she recalls. 

Her lifelong love of history turned into her choice of major after she took Professor Molly Loberg’s HIST 110 Western Civilization course. “It was the first time I had really been challenged to analyze sources, formulate a thesis, and make an argument. It was a defining moment.” Cassie’s interest in public service soon led her to Professor Tom Trice’s honors course, HIST 216 History of Social Movements, which gave her the opportunity to present and lead discussions with students.

Her work with Trice ultimately led her to her senior project: “A History of Mothers for Peace,” which documented a San Luis Obispo women’s movement that was particularly active between 1973 and 1985 in opposing the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and is still active today. Cassie supplemented her primary source research in the archives of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County with interviews of longtime members and observation of the group’s meetings and recent protests in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis. “My project examines how the organization is redefining motherhood,” Cassie explains. 

In her senior year, her love of history led her to serve as president of Cal Poly’s chapter of the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta. Cassie has been on the Dean’s List for the past eight quarters and graduated in June magna cum laude with a B.A. in History.

The selection process for Teach for America was intense, involving tests, one-on-one interviews, teaching presentations, and a final group interview. More than 48,000 applicants were reduced to just 4,800 teachers, including five from Cal Poly. When she reached the final phase, Cassie recalls that most of the remaining applicants were from some of the country’s most elite colleges, and she discovered that her training at Cal Poly put her on par with her peers from elite institutions. “I could not be doing this without my professors,” Cassie noted, saying she owed special thanks to Professors Joel Orth and Loberg, who helped her shape her teaching presentation on portrayals of war in art. 

When asked about what she’s most looking forward to, Cassie says, “I’ve always wanted to help change the world. I’m excited to demonstrate the faith in students that my teachers have always had in me. Some people want to do this for a star on their resume. To be honest, I feel that I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. It’s my dream.” Cassie plans to attend graduate school some day and envisions a career in education in either teaching or administration. Her ultimate goal is to help change American education for the neediest. “Many kids have no chance without intervention in high school. Things need to change,” Cassie says. “We’re not in any way close to achieving equality in this country.”

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History Faculty and Students Recognized at 2011 CLA Dean’s Philanthropy Dinner

On April 30, Professor Robert Detweiler accepted the 2011 CLA Dean's Philanthropy Award on behalf of himself and his wife Susan, Professor John Snetsinger, and an anonymous History Department faculty colleague. The award recognizes recipients for their generous donations and future planned giving in support of Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts and the Cal Poly History Department.

In addition to the award accepted by Detweiler, the CLA Dean’s Philanthropy Dinner featured as keynote speakers two current History students: Ilana Winter (HIST ’11) and Daniel Slusser (HIST M.A. ’11). Winter gave dinner guests a virtual tour through “Bells, Belles & Beaux: Wedding Traditions of SLO County, 1870s-1950s,” an exhibit she guest-curated with the History Center of San Luis Obispo County as part of the department’s internship program. The exhibit later became the subject of Winter’s senior project. In fall 2011, Winter will enter the M.A. degree program in Visual Culture-Costume Studies at New York University.

Slusser spoke about his master’s thesis on Wilbur and Orville Wright, who are credited as inventors of the first successful aircraft. Slusser explained how the Wright Brothers’ background in the printing and bicycle industries informed their fabrication skills and application of aerodynamic theory. Slusser’s project also received the honor of representing Cal Poly at the CSU Student Research Conference held in late April at Fresno State. 

History Senior wins College Award for Contributing to University Image

The College of Liberal Arts recognized Kyle Rosso (HIST ’11) with the 2011 CLA Contributions to the Objectives and Public Image of the University award based on his extensive record of service to the Cal Poly community. 

Rosso’s commitment to service began soon after he arrived on campus in 2007. “I wanted my four years at Cal Poly to be as involved as possible,” Rosso remembers, “because you only go to college once.” As a freshman he volunteered with University Housing as part of the Peer Community Standards Board and counseled students charged with violations of housing policies. This opened the door for Rosso to serve during his sophomore year as a community advisor in the Serra Vista Apartments on campus.

Also as a freshman, Rosso pursued his enthusiasm for Cal Poly athletics and began volunteering with the Mustang Maniacs. The student group serves as liaison between university athletics and the student body, works to increase school spirit for home games, and coordinates student road trips for away games. Rosso eventually served as president of Mustang Maniacs and continued as a volunteer through his senior year.

In his senior year, Rosso also served as a Poly Reps Ambassador, a select group of students who visit high schools on behalf of the university, lead tours for incoming students and parents, and provide a link between current students and alumni.

Rosso also found rewarding opportunities to connect his academic interests and love of history with service to Cal Poly and his fellow History majors. Rosso joined the Cal Poly chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society, during fall quarter of his sophomore year. And during 2009-10, he served on the editorial board of The Forum, the chapter’s peer-reviewed student journal, which won two awards from the national Phi Alpha Theta. And he combined his various interests in his senior project, a history of soccer in the United States. 

Rosso also credits his history coursework for his service with Cal Poly’s Gender Equity Center. Since fall 2010, he has worked as a paid educator for the center’s SAFER program, which promotes sexual assault prevention and risk reduction, and also the Meta-Masculinity Program, which gives presentations on the existence of different masculinities and issues of male body image and emotional health. 

Rosso’s service highlights the depth and variety of opportunities available to History students to give back to both fellow students and to campus life. And Rosso sees his own service as an extension of his work as a History major. “As you can tell, I have lots of different interests,” he says. “That’s what history is.” The discipline of history inspires students to take a “holistic understanding” of the world, of different cultures, and of important social issues. And it challenges students to think in ways both focused and broad. 

Dr. Loberg and Dr. Murphy receive award from President Armstrong


Cal Poly President’s Community Service Award Honors History Internship Program, Faculty

On May 17, Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong awarded the President’s Service Learning Award to Professors Molly Loberg and Kate Murphy in recognition of their work administering and expanding the History Department’s internship program. 

The internship program provides students with course credit and career experience working for historical sites, museums, archives, government, nonprofit agencies, and the private sector. The program provides a vital link between the university and the major institutions of San Luis Obispo County’s history community.

Loberg and Murphy place students in internships through the course HIST 467. Students receive four units of credit per quarter, which they may repeat or extend for up to 12 units or a full academic year. This enables students to take on bigger projects and/or multiple internships and provides the program’s community partners with more extensive commitment and support. As part of the internship program, students complete a research paper associated with their work.

Growing popularity has made the program highly competitive. Selection now includes a rigorous written application process plus two rounds of interviews.

Murphy views the program’s growth as a result of the tangible benefits it offers to students. Many student interns, she notes, have found their experiences in the program led to senior project topics and paid employment opportunities. The program helps prepare students to distinguish themselves in a tough job market through the application and interview process. And it provides students opportunities to put into practice in the real world the research skills learned in the classroom. “Internships help students think about their futures,” she explains, “whether within the field of history or beyond, all the while providing valuable work experience.”

Past and current community partners in the internship program include The History Center of San Luis Obispo County, the SLO Self-Help Center of the California Superior Court, the Jewish Community Center & Archives, ARTS Obispo, Cal Poly Special Collections, South County Historical Society, and the Cambria Historical Society. 

Prospective students and community partners are encouraged to contact Murphy for more information.

History Department Recognizes Student Achievement with Annual Awards, Scholarship Luncheon

The History Department held its annual awards and scholarship luncheon on May 20 and would like to congratulate the following recipients for the 2010-11 academic year:
Stephan Hampton – Kristin King Morana Scholarship

History Scholarship Recipients, 2011

Cassandra Bayer - Thomas Redican Memorial Scholarship
Jamie Mather – Hilda Heifetz Family Scholarship
Wyatt Oroke – Hilda Heifetz Family Scholarship
Emily Cassie – Madalene P. Farris History Award
Andrew Pagan – Dan Krieger Award
Caroline Cornell – J. Irving Snetsinger Award for Political or Diplomatic History
Cameron Lutchansky – J. Irving Snetsinger Award for Writing Excellence
Rosalie Platzer – George Cotkin Award for Scholarly Excellence
David Fox – Robert Detweiler Outstanding Senior of the Year Award
Hilda Iorga – Spencer Wood Memorial Award
Andrew Levin – Spencer Wood Memorial Award

If you would like to show your support of the History Department and its students, please visit the Cal Poly Advancement website.

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History majors continued their significant contributions to Cal Poly’s myriad Intercollegiate Athletic programs during 2010-11. 

Alexa Lee, student playing tennis

Alexa Lee – Sophomore–Bermuda Dunes, Calif. -- Tennis 
Alexa played in the No. 1 position in both singles and doubles for Cal Poly this spring and compiled a 9-9 record and 12-7 record respectively. She was named to the 2011 All-Big West Conference first team in both categories of play. With Lee in the lineup, the Mustangs won nine successive matches during the 2011 spring season, reached as high as No. 36 in the Campbell’s Intercollegiate Tennis Rankings, won a program-best seven Big West matches, and received selection to the NCAA Championships for the first time in eight years.

Amaurys Fermin -- Senior – Bronx, N.Y. -- Basketball
Amaurys suffered a year-ending injury during pre-season training for the 2010-11 campaign. Fermin will return to the Mustangs lineup as a senior for the 2011-12 season.

Dominique Johnson -- Senior – Moreno Valley, Calif. -- Football
As wide receiver for the Mustangs, Dominique had a season total of 47 catches for 634 yards and four touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown catch against Old Dominion and a 72-yard non-scoring pass against UC Davis. On two occasions, he caught eight passes in a single game. Johnson’s career total for two seasons include 90 catches for 1,375 yards and 10 touchdowns. Johnson earned second-team All-Great West Conference honors both years.

Giovanni Sani – Sophomore – Modesto, Calif. -- Football
Sani started two games in 2010 before suffering a season-ending injury.

Stephan Hampton – Sophomore – Red Bluff, Calif. -- Wrestling
As a sophomore during the 2010-11 season, Hampton wrestled in one open competition and compiled a 1-2 record.

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Professor Tom Trice in Thailand

Tom Trice Teaches Students in Southeast Asia

Professor Tom Trice spent spring quarter 2011 as part of Cal Poly’s Study Abroad program in Thailand. Trice led 24 Cal Poly students in the course HIST 318 The City in the Modern World, which he specially crafted as a comparative study of urban Thailand and California during the 19th and 20thcenturies. Student writing assignments for the course drew upon readings, class discussions, and observations of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Nong Khai in Thailand, along with Vientiane in Laos. Trice traveled to Laos following the program’s conclusion before returning to Cal Poly for the fall quarter.

New Books by Faculty Highlight Dedication to Research and Diverse Specialties

Four History Department faculty either published or were awarded publication contracts for books in 2010-11. The new authors include:

Timothy M. Barnes
Professor Tim Barnes, with co-authors Robert M. Calhoon and Robert Scott Davis, published Tory Insurgents: The Loyalist Perception and Other Essays with the University of South Carolina Press in May 2010. The book examines the political thought of loyalists during the American Revolution and what became of loyalist forces in the press, towns, and frontier regions in the era after independence. 

George Cotkin
Professor George Cotkin will publish Dive Deeper with Moby-Dick: A Biography of a Book and Its Voracious Readers, (forthcoming in 2012 from Oxford University Press). Dive Deeper with Moby-Dick examines and explains the presence in American history and culture -- in film, art, comedy, criticism, and literature -- of Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick. Cotkin’s study consists of 135 brief chapters, along with the etymology, extracts, and epilogue, each keyed to a phrase, issue, image, sensibility or notion in corresponding chapters of Melville’s original work. Cotkin not only analyzes Melville’s writing and characters but also the novel’s readers to explain the rich symbolism and enduring meaning of Moby-Dick in America.

Andrew D. Morris
Professor and History Department Chair Andrew Morris published his new book, Colonial Project, National Game: A History of Baseball in Taiwan, with University of California Press in November 2010. The book begins with the Japanese colonial government’s introduction of baseball to Taiwan in the early 20th century as a means of “civilizing” and assimilating both the island’s ethnic Chinese and Austronesian Aboriginal peoples. It then investigates the story of the game after the end of World War II when Taiwan is handed over to the Chinese Nationalists in 1945. While the Nationalists tried to eradicate most remnants of Japanese culture, fashion, and language, Morris shows the reasons for their tolerance and eventual support of baseball on the island. The book pursues the history of Taiwanese baseball up through the 2008 Beijing Olympics and places the sport at the center of Taiwan’s future relations with China and within East Asia.

John N. Oriji
Professor John Oriji published Political Organization in Nigeria since the Late Stone Age: A History of the Igbo People with Palgrave Macmillan in January 2011. The work studies the Igbo people, one of Nigeria’s and West Africa’s largest ethnic nationalities, and the transformation of their society since the prehistoric period. Oriji’s new work represents a significant contribution to the political history of the Igbo, particularly in his attention to the era before the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Select Faculty Publications, Research Awards, and Presentations, 2010-11

Christina Firpo

  • “Shades of Whiteness: Petits-Blancs and the Politics of Military Allocations Distribution in World War I Colonial Cochinchina.” French Historical Studies 34, 2, (2011).
  • “Hierarchies of Race and Gender in the French Colonial Empire, 1914-1946,” with Jennifer Boittin and Emily Musil. Historical Reflections/Réflections Historiques 37 (2011).
  • Recipient of three prestigious research awards for the upcoming year, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, the Society for French Historical Studies Travel Research Grant, and the Center for Khmer Studies-Counsel of American Overseas Research Centers Senior Fellowship, the latter of which will allow her to research abroad during winter quarter 2012.

D. Craig Harlan

  • "Reading, Writing and the Art of History.” AHA Perspectives (November 2010).
  • “History is the Stream We All Go Fishing In.” Reviews in American History 39, 1 (March 2011).

Andrew D. Morris

  • “1970s–’80s ‘Chinese’ Little League Baseball and Its Discontents,” in Marc L. Moskowitz, ed. Popular Culture in Taiwan: Charismatic Modernity, New York: Routledge, 2011.

Kate Murphy

  • “Translating the Vernacular: Indigenous and African Knowledge in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic.” Atlantic Studies 8, 1 (March 2011).
  • “The History of Atlantic Science: Collective Reflections from the 2009 Harvard Seminar on Atlantic History,” with Marcelo Aranda et al. Atlantic Studies 7, 4 (December 2010).
  • “To Make Florida Answer to Its Name: John Ellis, the Royal Society, and the Cultivation of Empire,” invited paper presented at the Royal Society of London’s 350th anniversary conference, “The Royal Society and the British Atlantic,” September 30, 2010.

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