HA Gingerbread House Extravaganza (Part II)

Each fall semester, students in Historical Administration at EIU take two courses that emphasize material culture analysis — HIS 5050: History of American Architecture, taught by Dr. Nora Pat Small, and HIS 5330: Material Life and Decorative Arts in America, taught by Dr. Debra A. Reid (click here for Part I of this post). Students read theory and apply that to studies of decorative arts and the built environment. The goal is to move students away from identification of “styles” of furniture or buildings and toward context, analysis and interpretation. The team of students who created this 18th century Palladial structure did just that.

Caroline Martin, Cory Hurless, and Alex Stromberg laying the foundation for their graham cracker domicile. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Caroline Martin, Cory Hurless, and Alex Stromberg laying the foundation for their graham cracker domicile. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Cory applying some finishing touches (photo by Debra A. Reid)

Cory applying some finishing touches. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

The finished house even had chocolate-covered waffle-wafer parts to create the look of diamond-shaped muntins on the upper story windows on the front facade. Caroline, Cory and Alex could have waxed eloquent about how this indicated glass-making technology of the time; and they left the interior unfinished, as scholars have argued that some rural residents of Deerfield, Massachusetts, had to do to maintain appearances along “the street.” And the winner of the Great Gingerbread Challenge of 2014 is (at least in the opinion of the bribed judges): the 18th century Palladial structure with real, not rusticated, graham crackers. But we have two more centuries to explore.

HA Gingerbread House Extravaganza

The Graduate Students in the Historical Administration program at Eastern Illinois University spend a lot of time with each other. A lot of time. The curriculum requires them to take five graduate classes each semester and work with five different instructors. In addition, each student works nearly 20 hours a week in their graduate assistantships. Course projects also require them to work independently and in group projects to satisfy programming, grant writing, and collections related needs of partner institutions (museums and historical sites in the area, and EIU’s College of Education this year). The students prove that they can “pull in unison” when it comes to having fun, too. On Dec. 11, 2014, the ten students hosted the faculty for an amazing example of giving from the heart. This is the first of four posts  to introduce you to the spirit of these ten amazing students, and three of the five faculty that have the pleasure of working with them.

An example of their creativity – the inaugural Gingerbread House Extravaganza. Students formed four teams, invited a faculty member to join them, and set about solving a challenge – constructing a domestic structure representative of either the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. We’ll start with the oldest. . . chronologically. The team with Dr. Nora Pat Small, vernacular architecture expert, had to build a 17th century structure. They used their pretzel sticks to construct an example of impermanent architecture. The team (fig. 1): Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan  Hess. And (fig. 2) Dr. Small with the finished product, and the proud teacher of the course in historic architecture. But this is not the “winner” of the Great Gingerbread House Challenge. Stay tuned.
Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan  Hess (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan Hess (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Small with the finished product (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Small with the finished product (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

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.