Dr. Cindy Ermus researches disasters. For Ermus, this covers natural disasters, infectious diseases, and even political events. This year, she returned to Tallahassee to attend the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era (CRE), where she gave a talk that positions revolutions as disasters. However, the trip to Tallahassee was more than just an opportunity to present her scholarship—it was a reunion. Ermus graduated with her PhD in History from Florida State University almost six years ago and returning to Tallahassee was a nostalgic experience for her. “From the moment I stepped out of the airport into my ride to the DoubleTree, I was already nostalgic. I remembered the roads and the route back to the center of town and everything,” she reflected.

Let’s congratulate the three History Majors who were inducted into the Garnet and Gold Scholar Society for the Spring 2020 Semester last week. Below they are describing what they did and what it meant to them.

Katherine Shapiro

My engagement areas were research, international, and service.

Can anything top Tiger King? Probably not.

Nevertheless, these six equally engaging documentaries explore new aspects of prominent figures and some lesser known histories. For those who find themselves with spare time on their hands, consider adding the following documentaries to your watch list.


FSU alumnus Dr. Bryan Banks was in Tallahassee in late February for the 50th Annual Consortium on the Revolutionary Era Conference and took time to speak with us about his time at FSU and his career since graduating.  Dr. Banks received both his Master’s (2011 with Dr. Rafe Blaufarb) and Ph.D. (2014 with Dr. Darrin McMahon) in History at Florida State University.  Dr. Banks chose Florida State as the result of a meeting he had with Dr. Blaufarb at a café in Paris while on an undergraduate exchange program at the University of Versailles.  Based on Dr. Blaufarb’s reputation, as well as Dr. McMahon’s, and the resources available through the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at FSU, Dr. Banks felt this was the right place to pursue his graduate studies.

            While working on his doctorate degree at the University of Iowa, Paul Renfro was captivated by the story of two young girls who went missing and the language around their disappearance. People saying, “this shouldn’t happen here,” and notions of racial and regional innocence sparked his interest. Stranger Danger discusses the phenomenon of missing children and its resonance beginning in the late seventies and early eighties.

In an interview discussing his new book, The Virtues of Economy: Governance, Power, and Piety in Late Medieval Rome (Cornell University Press, 2019), James Palmer explained the long road to its publication. Palmer, currently an assistant professor in the History Department at FSU spent the better part of the 2010s researching and writing the book. James Palmer was also emphatic about the importance of history for our society today. The study of history will equip students “to live critically in the world that they are in.”

His Journey

Dr. Palmer began college as a forestry major but realized quickly that this field did not suit him. While reconsidering his major, he spoke with many professors, including Chris Celenza, who taught Renaissance Italy. Palmer stated that Professor Celenza “took me under his wing,” and inspired him to follow in his footsteps to Italy. Palmer recollects that when he decided eventually to go into history, nobody in his family was surprised but he himself.

The Process

Adjusting to remote learning or working from home can be a hard transition. If you are used to working in the library, a coffee shop, or an office, finding yourself at home brings new distractions. With COVID-19 causing FSU to go remote at least through the Summer B session, it is important to figure out ways to boost productivity and maintain focus. Video games, TV, pets and family members are just some of the new distractions, students may face as they try to accomplish their scholarly goals and complete assignments. Luckily there are resources that can be accessed via computer or phone that can help tune out distractions and focus on tasks at hand.

Although FSU’s classes have transitioned to online instruction methods, there are still plenty of ways for history majors and other students in history classes to get their history fix—whether it be for scholarly research or personal interest. Engaging with history remotely is possible with a wealth of resources provided by FSU libraries and other instructional and cultural institutions nationwide.

John Cable was traveling with a band in Athens, Georgia. The bass player, majoring in Social Science Education, brought numerous books to their room. Dr. Cable grabbed one and began reading. This is how his love for history started.

After getting married, he returned to school. He chose History over his initial major in Music Performance. Dr. Cable was drawn to the history of Civil Rights. In college, he studied with a professor specializing in the African Diaspora. From there he completed his undergrad and MA degree at FSU. Dr. Cable was sure about the topic of his dissertation: A grand, overarching re-framing of American Civil Rights history as a story of colonization and decolonization of the United States.

FSU hosted the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era (CRE) February 27th-29th, celebrating the golden anniversary of the history conference. The 50th anniversary began with a reception held at the DoubleTree Tallahassee, where scholars of the Revolutionary era came to meet from across the globe. Friends and colleagues reunited, and emerging scholars had the opportunity to meet other historians in their field. The night culminated with an engaging talk by LSU Shreveport’s Alexander Mikaberidze as well as a series of speakers who represented FSU.