University Scholars Series: Jennifer Rycenga Speaks on Abolitionist Prudence Crandall

Photo: David Schmitz Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Photo: David Schmitz
Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Professor of Comparative Religious Studies Jennifer Rycenga has been immersed in writing a comprehensive cultural biography of white Abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) who has interested Rycenga since first discovering the fellow educator in the late 1990s. She first learned of Crandall when she traveled to New England to visit the historic Crandall Academy, which now houses a museum. She soon recognized that the Academy’s founder had a rich story and decades later, Rycenga is ready to share her findings as part of the spring 2019 University Scholar Series on Feb. 20, at noon in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229.

Rycenga, who teaches in the College of Humanities and the Arts Department of Humanities, has long had an interest in Abolitionist history, women’s religious history, feminist theories of music, and theoretical issues concerning philosophies of immanence and panentheism. Her latest work combines several of those interests.

During her University Scholars Series talk, she will share a story from Canterbury, Conn. circa 1830s, where women and men, Black and white, young and old, worked together to offer advanced formal education for Black women. Crandall became their teacher, and though the school was subjected to “constant racist vigilante and legal violence, the education and learning there were genuine,” Rycenga says.

Read a Q&A with Rycenga.

Upcoming University Scholar Series events

Tatiana Shubin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, on “Moving in Circles: the Beauty and Joy of Mathematics for Everyone

March 27, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Ellen Middaugh, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, on “Coming of Age in the Era of Outrage: Digital Media and Youth Civic Development”

April 24, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Sandra Hirsh, School of Information, on “Blockchain: Transformative Applications for Libraries and Education”

May 8, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

All events are free and open to the public. Lunch is provided.

Faculty Early Tenure and Promotion: Xiaojia Hou

Xiaojia Hou

Xiaojia Hou

Xiaojia Hou

Early Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor

Years at SJSU: 3

Department: History

RSCA focus: Modern China

Xiaojia Hou, an associate professor of history in the College of Social Sciences, recently published her first scholarly book, Negotiating Socialism in Rural China- Mao, Peasants, and Local Cadres in Shanxi 1949-1953. During the spring 2018 University Scholars Series, she presented a talk on her book, which explores how the national policy in China emerged from complex bureaucratic interactions among central, regional, local governments and peasants.

“It was amazing to communicate with the local community,” she said, of sharing her research. “The talk was reported on by the Campbell Express newspaper.”

In addition to her book, she has published multiple peer-reviewed book chapters, articles and reviews on subjects including China’s socialist transformation in the 1950s, modern China, Chinese peasants in the 20th century, Mao Zedong and the Yellow River in modern times.

When she is not writing, researching or teaching, Hou serves as the undergraduate advisor for her department, is the co-director of the East Asian Regional Materials and Resources Center, and serves on college committees.

“Ask more questions, in your research and in your life,” she tells students.

Note: Congratulations to the 43 faculty members who received tenure and/or promotion for 2018-19. We have invited each faculty member to participate in a series of posts profiling their teaching, service, and research, scholarship and creativity activities. Those faculty who opted to participate will be featured throughout the fall semester on the Academic Spotlight blog and the digital sign in the Administration Building lobby.

SJSU History Associate Professor Interviewed on C-SPAN

Dr. Libra Hilde

Dr. Libra Hilde

San Jose State university’s Libra Hilde, an associate professor of history, was interviewed on C-SPAN in February about her book “Worth a Dozen Men: Women and Nursing in the Civil War South.” During her interview, she shared highlights from her book about how the involvement of women in providing medical care during the Civil War.

“These women had to deal with some pretty horrific sights and sounds and things they were not accustomed to, but they also had to deal with the fact that a lot of men didn’t want them there,” Hilde said during the interview.

The interview was part of C-SPAN’s Local Content Vehicles (LCVs) series, in which media crews visit different cities across the nation. The stop in San Jose from Feb. 4-10 featured pieces on history and literature with interviews of local historians, authors and civic leaders. Hilde’s piece aired on American History TV on C-SPAN3 and online.


March Newsletter: Proven Course Redesign Improves Engagement

Students in Laura Guardino's U.S. History and Government (HIST 15A) course watch a short video in a 'smart classroom' in Sweeney Hall.

Students in Laura Guardino’s U.S. History and Government (HIST 15A) course watch a short video in a ‘smart classroom’ in Sweeney Hall.

In the College of Social Sciences, three history faculty members received CSU Proven Course Redesign grants to update U.S. History and Government (HIST 15A) courses. The professors are using some flipped classroom techniques in the general education course.

Laura Guardino said the course used to be team taught as it incorporated history and political science concepts. Since the department was already planning to redesign the course to focus only on history topics, she and two of her colleagues decided to apply for the Proven Course Redesign grant to support the effort.

Guardino said the goal of the redesign is to ensure they teach students the skills they will need in upper division courses such as critical thinking, analytic skills, close reading analysis, how to cite sources, write a thesis and make oral presentations. The other faculty members with grants include Robert Cirivilleri and Katherine Chilton.

“We are using an online learning platform that students can use on their smart phones or laptops,” Guardino said.  “It makes grading more efficient. Students can read essays and view lectures online. Discussions in class extend into concrete problem debates.”

The history professors are using an online platform, Globalyceum, that was created by retired SJSU Professor Pat Don, who taught Social Science Teacher Education and wanted to create a curricular resource that maximizes technology.

Guardino added that the trio received funding for iPads for the classes and would begin incorporating the tablets into their instruction in mid-March. She said Academic Technology staff members have been supportive in helping her and her colleagues learn how to use the resources in their Smart Classrooms that are equipped for audio-visual presentations.

On a recent morning, students in Guardino’s smart classroom watched a video about modern-day slavery before delving into a discussion on slavery before the Civil War.

“We want to find a little connection to the present day,” she said. “We ask a probing question that is connected to their lives.”