University of Washington

History Matters Fall 2013

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Dear Friends of History, THIS YEAR HAS BEEN AN EXCITING ONE marked by many transitions. As press reports remind us daily, higher education is in a period of profound transformation. Conversations across campus are frequently dominated by talk of rising tuition, stagnating faculty and staff salaries, the advent of on-line courses, and growing student interest in the so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Amid such talk, it is worth pausing to remember our foundational strengths as a department, and how those strengths enable us to respond creatively to new challenges. and the China Studies Program, his stellar record as a graduate mentor, and his devotion to undergraduate teaching. Kent's graduate students now hold faculty positions at institutions including Cornell and Washington University in St. Louis while his "Chinese Civilization" had the highest enrollment of any course in the Department this year. We are a highly accomplished community of teachers and scholars. We are diverse both in terms of our demographics and in our teaching and research profiles. Our expertise spans the globe — from the Pacific Northwest and the United States to Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa — and extends across human history, from ancient and medieval times through to the late twentieth century. Our Director of Academic Services Susanne Young, hired a few years after Kent, will also retire this summer. Over 29 years, Susanne has strengthened and enriched our Department through her intelligent judgment, deft organizational skills, and deep commitment to the value of higher education. We wish both Kent and Susanne retirements filled with more relaxation than Smith Hall allows. We also wish the best for Polly Hunter and Carolyn Black, two dedicated members of History's Advancement team who recently moved into new positions at the University of Virginia and the University of Washington, respectively. OUR EXPERTISE SPANS THE GLOBE — FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND THE UNITED STATES TO ASIA, EUROPE, LATIN AMERICA, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND AFRICA — AND EXTENDS ACROSS HUMAN HISTORY, FROM ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL TIMES THROUGH TO THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY. To respond to the shifting needs of our undergraduate students, this year we undertook an extensive review of our curriculum and major requirements. Our primary aim was to better highlight the vital skills and forms of knowledge we teach. To this end, we are developing four new thematic minors and areas of concentration for our majors: "Empire and Colonialism," "Religion and Society," "Race, Gender, and Power," and "War and Society." Our intention is to attract more students by foregrounding highly relevant thematic foci, and offering more coherent paths of study. To further expand our offerings in these areas, faculty will soon teach new courses including "Tudor England," "The Cold War," and "Before Global Health." At a time of constrained public funds, we are deeply grateful for the Friends of History Fund and the Robert A. Nathane, Sr. Endowed Fund in History that have generously supported the creation of these courses. This year also saw exciting developments on the hiring front. We successfully concluded two faculty searches in the fields of Islamic World before 1900, and Modern Middle East. In September, we look forward to welcoming to campus the first of these new colleagues, Dr. Arbella Bet-Shlimon. Other transitions remind us of how many people have contributed to the Department's success over the years. Professor Kent Guy, who joined History and the Jackson School as a joint appointment in 1980 and served as Chair of History for four years, has decided to retire. A highly respected specialist in Qing history, Kent will be sorely missed for his exemplary leadership within the Department PAGE 2 University of Washington On behalf of the entire Department of History, I thank you for your interest and support, all of which contributes greatly to our success. On a more personal note, I am grateful to all who have helped to make my first year as Chair such a rewarding one. I invite you to stay in touch with the Department through our redesigned website ( and I hope to see you at this fall's History Lecture Series, "Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America." Sincerely, Lynn M. Thomas CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY New Faculty to Join Department ARBELLA BET-SHLIMON IS RETURNING to the University of Washington, her alma mater, to join the Department as an Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 2012. In her teaching and research, Bet-Shlimon specializes in the political, social, and economic history of the Middle East in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on Iraq and the broader Persian Gulf region. Her first book project, currently ongoing, is a history of group identities, the oil complex, and urbanism in Kirkuk, Iraq. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Urban History and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. At the UW, she plans to teach both general and specialized courses on various subjects in modern Middle Eastern history, including the histories of cities and borderlands, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and identity formation.

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