Reacting to the Past

From the desk of Sace Elder:

This June I spent four days playing role-playing games with other professors in New York City. The event was the Reacting to the Past (RTTP) Annual Faculty Institute at Barnard College, where more than 200 faculty members from across the country and abroad gathered to play-test games, discuss pedagogy, and network with others who are using RTTP in their classrooms.

rttpheadr

Reacting to the Past is a game-based, role-playing curriculum in which students adopt the personae of specific historical figures and work together to solve specific historical problems. The games ask students to put themselves in their characters’ shoes (sometimes literally, since dress codes are a part of many RTTP games) and engage the ideas that motivated their historical actors while confronting the interests and ideas of others. RTTP creates an entirely student-centered classroom, in which the instructor (or “gamemaster”) observes, quietly advises students, enforces the rules, evaluates student performance, and at times makes critical game-play decisions.

I went to New York having already run two RTTP games over the last couple of years: in my history of human rights class, a game that simulates the 1992 Rwandan crisis and the United Nation’s difficult decision regarding intervention; and a game for the intro to Women’s Studies about the 1993 University of Michigan Affirmative Action cases. Both games are currently in development, written by RTTP colleagues at other institutions. It is truly exciting to see students giving passionate speeches and arguing with each other about ideas they had never even considered before entering the course. The game also gives students the opportunity to use skills they may not have occasion to apply in more traditional classrooms, such as print design, newspaper editing, and extemporaneous public speaking. RTTP is more work for me, but it is well worth it. (For the record, when I prefer to call myself the “game manager,” for what I hope are obvious reasons.)

At the conference, I played the role of a delegate to the National Assembly during the French Revolution. Alas! In this revolution, the Conservatives gained the upper hand and put an end to the revolution before the first Constitution was even approved. In another game, the year was 1993 and I was the captain of the men’s wrestling team that was threatening to cut my and other men’s sports in the interest of complying with Title IX. (My coach and I managed to save wrestling, but not men’s volleyball or swimming. On the other hand, the Board of Trustees of our university was persuaded to increase the funds available for women’s sports.)

This Fall I will put my experience in New York to good use. I have adopted the French Revolution game (“Rousseau, Burke, and the Revolution in France”) in my honors section of HIS 1597G: Human Rights in History. I’m excited to see how the students enjoy the clash between the Jacobins and Feuillants, and am eager to see whom I might cast as Louis XVI and the Marquis de Lafayette!

My conference travel was supported with grants from EIU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Global Diversity and Faculty Development. Many thanks to both units for making the trip possible.

Violence and German Society

Who has the legal right to discipline a child? The answer in early twentieth-century Germany was not as simple as you might think. In her recently published article  “A Right to Beat a Child? Corporal Punishment and the Law in Wilhelmine Germany,” Dr. Sace Elder examines the  legal and popular debates over who possessed the right to exercise legitimate violence (that is, physical force for the purpose of correction or discipline) on children. The article appears in the first issue of Central European History, volume 47.

Dr. Elder continues her research on child mistreatment this summer when she travels to Germany to complete work on her book manuscript, “Cruel, Brutal, and Malicious: Child Abuse and Parental Authority in Germany, 1890-1945.” Her work will be supported by a Council for Faculty Research Summer Research Grant.

This work grew out of her first research project on criminal violence in Weimar Germany. The final publication from that project also appeared just this month: “’Prostitutes, Respectable Women, and Women from Outside:’ The Carl Grossmann Sexual Murder Case in Postwar Berlin,” in Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern Germany, ed. Richard Wetzell, (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014).

Illustration from Heinrich Hoffmann, Der Struuwelpeter, "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb" (1845)

Illustration from Heinrich Hoffmann, Der Struuwelpeter, “The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb” (1845)

 

History Careers Day Schedule & Registration

The History Department at Eastern Illinois University invites all interested students to their first History Careers Day to be held on 22 February 2013 from 10—3 in Room 4440 of Booth Library. Each session will begin with a fast round of brief presentations (5-6 minutes each) and then open it up to questions about innovations in history research, opportunities for grants, awards, and future study, etc. The morning sessions feature current graduate and undergraduate students and a few of the department faculty. The afternoon sessions are devoted to reports from the front from alumni employed in a variety of fields. (Organizers; Sace Elder, Newton Key, Brian Mann, Nora Small )

Register today! (All sessions and the lunch are free; but space/food is limited. So click here to register now – it takes seconds.)

  • 10:00-10:50 Student session
  1. Emily Scarbrough, “Suffrage and Antisuffrage in Illinois”
  2. Clare Smith, “Stuart Images of Henry VIII”
  3. Pat Vonesh, “Transcultural Identities Among Blacks and Whites in Britain, 1950-1980”
  4. Philip Mohr, “Housing E.I.U.’s G.I.s and Married Students”
  • 11:00-11:50: Faculty session (Professors of History at EIU)
  1. Newton Key, “News Networks in the 17th and 21st Centuries”
  2. Brian Mann, “Researching Modern Iranian History”  
  3. Ed Wehrle, “The View from Camp David”
  4. Anita Shelton, “Translating History” 
  • 12:00-12:50: Lunch (provided)
  1. Study Abroad
  • 1:00-1:50 and 2:00-2:50: Alumni session (2x)
  1. Ryan Blankenship, Managing Director, Mathematics and Statistics, McGraw-Hill Higher Education 
  2. Marc Anderson, Product Manager, Congressional and Historical Collections, ProQuest
  3. Amanda Bryden, State Sites Collection Manager, Indiana State Museum and State Historic Sites, New Harmony State Historic Site 
  4. Bobbi Kingery, Career Counselor, College of Arts & Humanities
  5. Amanda Standerfer, Adult Division Head Librarian, Decatur Public Library
  • 3:00 Career Day Ends.  Note: all participants are invited the keynote talk by Dr. Christopher Olsen, 7 pm in Doudna Lecture Hall.