A New Twist on an Old Subject
Exploring History at Susquehanna University
This focus on cross-cultural interactions is common across the history department, according to history grad Rebecca Krieger ’13. “The classes are not just about one place and time, but about how that place and time interacted with and was affected by everywhere else around it,” she says.
In a course on the history of Mexico, Muñoz got even more hands-on by having students try out some old-school cooking techniques. The students learned to make homemade tortillas and to use a mortar and pestle crafted from volcanic rock to make salsa.
“They were able to imagine how women, in particular, who were in charge of cooking for their families, might be burdened by this,” she says, of the lengthy cooking process.
These are only a few examples of how studying food can reveal different aspects of a society. As Fourshey says, “[Food is] about economy. It’s about politics. It’s about social relationships.”
“I try to really drive home on the first day of class that I’m never going to ask you to memorize a date or name,” Imhoof says of his introductory-level courses.
Imhoof is committed to helping his students develop the skills necessary for further study of history and a wide range of careers. One of the critical-thinking skills fostered in his classes is the ability to make connections.
“Dr. Imhoof once took our European History class outside, handed us sidewalk chalk, and told us to make a Venn diagram connecting existentialism, feminism and a Sex Pistols song,” recalls Krieger. “The instance definitely stuck with me as a great way to get us out of the classroom and really think about applying what we’d been talking about.”
Currently, Krieger is serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Venice Beach, Calif. While the details of European history may not apply to her position as a social worker for low-income families, what she learned from her history professors still proves useful. “My research skills, learned from years of digging through primary and secondary sources, come in handy,” Krieger says.
Like all Susquehanna history majors, Krieger’s research skills were sharpened through writing a 25- to 30-page senior thesis on a topic of her choice. Students begin their research during their junior year, with some even collecting evidence in archives and libraries where they study abroad.