This year we welcome three new faculty members, whose innovative approaches to medicine, culture, memory, and identity are enriching and globalizing the history curriculum while giving students broader exposure to a variety of historical sources and texts.

Dr. Carolyn Herbst Lewis

Dr. Carolyn Herbst Lewis introduces a new course to Grinnell: the history of American medicine. This course includes a service-learning component with a visit to the Kintzinger Women’s Health Center. Lewis hopes to include other community medical and health resources in future semesters. This course also moves beyond the traditional classroom through the creation of a class blog that allows students to share their interests and research in the history of medicine with a larger audience.  In her own work, Lewis, who earned her BA at Ohio University and her Ph.D. at UC-Santa Barbara and taught most recently at Louisiana State University, examines the interconnected histories of health, medicine, and sexuality.  She is the author of Prescription for Heterosexuality: Sexual Citizenship in the Cold War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), and is currently researching the history of childbirth in the United States through the lens of Dr. Joseph Bolivar DeLee and the Chicago Maternity Center. 

Dr. Christopher Mayo

Dr. Christopher Mayo specializes in the cultural history of Japan, especially its transformation from a medieval state into an early-modern nation in the sixteenth century. His classes explore how people in Asia have derived meaning from their experiences over the last few centuries within an increasingly interconnected world. In the spring semester, he will offer classes on historical trauma in Asia, encounters with "others" in early-modern Japan, and Japan at war from 1868 to 1945.  Mayo, who earned his BA at the University of Kansas and his Ph.D. from Princeton University, writes broadly on religion and warfare, law and society, and historical memory, as seen in both his dissertation and a recent article on the Ōtomo warrior band and its transformative encounters with Christianity in the sixteenth century.

Dr. Aysha Pollnitz

At a moment when the European Union is under extraordinary financial pressure, Dr. Aysha Pollnitz's class on "Early Modern European History, 1350-1650" explores the creation of the idea of Europe. "We are examining the way that the Renaissance, the breakdown of Christendom, and increasing contact with Africa, Asia, and the Americas gave rise to Europeans' sense of their collective cultural identity in this period."  Pollnitz's students will be delving into Burling Library's Special Collections to study some of the rare printed books preserved at Grinnell.  "It's one thing to be told in class that Thomas Hobbes's 1651 treatise, Leviathan, is one of the most important works of political thought in the western tradition. It's quite another to turn the pages of a first edition yourself. Very few undergraduates in the world have that opportunity, but it's just another Tuesday morning at Grinnell."  A specialist in early-modern European intellectual history, Pollnitz earned her BA at the University of Sydney and her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge and taught most recently at Rice University.  She is revising her manuscript, Princely education in sixteenth-century Britain, for publication with Cambridge University Press.


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