History Symposium Series Spans Academic Generations

Author: Gene Stowe

Tom Brady for web

A new, twice-yearly symposium series brings noted scholars in various stages of their careers together with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in the Department of History.

The Mary Clare Reynolds Joyce Symposium series is funded through the Mary Clare Reynolds Joyce Endowment for Excellence in the Department of History, a gift from Robert (ND ’53) and Sheila Berner, made in memory of their niece. The series will engage a broad spectrum of participants and will be designed to maximize the exchange of ideas between the speakers, faculty, and students.

“A major scholar will come to talk about a recent ‘big’ book,” says Department of History Chair Thomas F.X. Noble, “and then three scholars at different career stages will engage with the senior scholar. We will also provide plenty of opportunities for the visitors to meet with our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The initial symposium, held in September, honored Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Peder Sather Professor Emeritus and Professor of the Graduate School at University of California, Berkeley. Brady, a 1959 Notre Dame graduate, is a leading scholar on the German Reformation. His career-summarizing book, German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400-1650, was published last year by Cambridge University Press.

Brady book cover for web

“It’s a chance for Tom to be recognized by Notre Dame,” says symposium organizer Brad Gregory, Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern European History. “Tom is certainly, by any measure, one of the most distinguished alums of the University in the academy in any discipline.”

The department also invited H.C. Erik Midelfort, Charles Julian Bishko Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia; Sigrun Haude, associate professor at the University of Cincinnati; and John Frymire, associate professor at the University Missouri at Columbia, to reflect on Brady’s work and dialogue with him.

The four Reformation scholars spent two days on campus, interacting with faculty, meeting individually with graduate students, and visiting classrooms.

Daniel Graff, who teaches the one-credit Exploring History Beyond the Classroom course for history majors, says undergraduates also benefit from the symposium series.

“Events like these represent perfect vehicles for integrating our majors into the intellectual life of the department,” says Graff, the department’s director of undergraduate studies. “We invite majors to the symposium, and then we schedule a special follow-up session where a faculty participant facilitates an ongoing discussion. In this way, our undergraduates can actively participate in the scholarly dialogues that advance historical knowledge.”

The plan is to arrange a set of similar interactions around each of the events in the series. “We will move it around the various areas of the department,” Noble says, adding that Americanists are organizing the symposium for the spring 2011 semester.

The events are open to graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and the community.

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