News and Features

For the last two years, Jace Cookson (BA 2022) has been torn between becoming a lawyer or a history professor. Cookson came to FSU with the firm intention of going to law school after his BA, but he will be leaving the university with a new plan: going to graduate school to study American religious history.

Why did you want to be a lawyer?

I decided on becoming a lawyer because I did not know about other career options. My dad is a lawyer. I grew up with law. Being a lawyer has always felt like the standard for success and going to a very good law school (preferably better than my dad’s) felt particularly important.

In high school, I was on the debate team. That is a very competitive environment in which almost everyone wants to go to law school. If you like debating that’s a reasonable career choice. I went into college with law school as the goal and I was very ambitious during freshman year.

I started planning very early on how to get into the right law school. I sat down with one of the pre-law advisors, and she gave me a card which had all the important points listed: have a good GPA, get a good LSAT score, do extracurriculars. I put that card up on my wall and planned out how I was going to meet those goals.

I started thinking about the LSAT in my sophomore year, two years before the actual test taking. I realized pretty quickly on how important my LSAT score would be. Five points can mean the difference between a full ride scholarship and decades of law school debt.

Current social media intern Gianna Formica is majoring in Social Science Education with a minor in French. Having a passion for writing since she was in high school, she plans to focus on journalism in graduate school. She has been writing for FSView since early 2021.

What got you interested in writing for FSView?

I worked for several different publications on campus until I found my place at FSView. I started my time at FSU thinking I wanted to be a social science teacher in school, but slowly came to realize that I wanted to educate a broader public through my writing instead. I saw a notice that the Arts and Culture section of FSView was looking for writers, and I went for it. That was nine months ago, and I am going to continue writing for them until I graduate.

How do you get an article published?

FSView is divided into four sections, News, Sports, Arts and Culture, and Views, which is op-eds. I am very much into cultural history, so writing for Arts and Culture works great for me. The team meets once a week with our section’s editor, and that’s when we make our pitches and divide up the different topics we are going to work on for the week. Submission deadline to our section editor is Friday afternoon, and once it has been reviewed and approved by the editor-in-chief, it will appear in FSView online on Sunday, and in the print edition on Monday.

What do you tend to write on?

Both Rhiannon Turgel-Ethier and Kiri Raber, graduate students in the History department, did internships at the FL State Archives as part of their Public History minor field. Both are on the PhD track and will be spending a lot of time in archives as researchers trying to find the right documents for their dissertation projects. For both, this internship was a defining experience as it allowed them to work behind the scenes in an archive, learning how research facilities work.

“I gained a lot from this internship both as a public historian and as an academic historian. I got to understand how the ‘back end’ of the archive works,” said Rhiannon, while Kiri found, “It made me realize how much archivists know about their archive. "I now have a better understanding on how important it is to open a dialogue with the archivists."

Donald Horward was a leading figure in the field of Napoleonic studies for nearly a half century. Horward had a distinctive approach to the life and craft of the historian: a stronger, more fraternal obligation to the student, true patronage of the library, and ultimately, stewardship of the field. Horward was a pioneer. Not only did he work in collaboration with his peers, he struck his own path. Horward’s efforts, more than any other single individual in the 20th century, elevated Napoleonic studies in the United States to new prominence. This would not have happened without his unique drive, ambition, and dedication to both his students and the wider profession. His legacy lives on because he poured his passion into institution-building.

Donald Horward made his mark through those institutions. He first established the rare-book Napoleon Collection at Strozier Library, one of the world’s largest collections of Napoleonic-era texts. Next, he helped organize the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, the world’s largest academic association devoted to the study of the Age of Revolutions (1750-1850). Finally, he founded the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at Florida State University, the only graduate program devoted exclusively to those areas of history.

I have been working for Tennessee State Parks as a seasonal interpretive ranger for the past three summers. My friend Josh introduced me to the job during my gap year between undergraduate and graduate school. I applied because I loved the idea of working a summer with my best friend. As I got into the flow of the things, though, I discovered that I really enjoy crafting and delivering historical programs. It’s the perfect mix of educating and entertaining. 

As a seasonal at Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, my job focused on their living history programs. Since Fort Loudon was built by the British in 1756 at the height of the French and Indian War, that meant wearing a lot of wool and learning old trades. In addition to marching and musketry, I also learned how to blacksmith and bake bread in a brick oven. I love these types of programs for two reasons. Not only does the audience get a show and tangible product, but the programmer can talk about anything while doing it: society, culture, religion, migration, and labor history. For me, though, those skills are fascinating enough on their own. We see a blacksmith in a movie make a sword in a few moments so that it builds drama. The first time I tried making a single nail, it took me over 12 minutes. Connecting that popular scene with the realities of the work gave me a healthy respect for those who did it, not to mention a great fun fact to introduce myself with at the next dinner party!

Over the past year, Eric Feely, a senior majoring in Middle Eastern Studies, with concentrations in History, Arabic, and Public Administration, has had the opportunity to participate in several virtual internships in the Washington D.C. area. A winner of the Ada Belle Winthrop-King Scholarship and David L. Boren Scholarship, both funding overseas language study, Eric has tried to make the most of his time during the pandemic by gaining relevant work experience while awaiting permission to travel abroad.

In fall 2020, Eric was selected as a National Security and Intelligence Analysis intern on the Syria Team at the Institute for the Study of War. In this role, Eric conducted open-source intelligence to collect, process, analyze, and synthesize intelligence from native language sources in Syria. Eric focused most of his research on tactical, operational, and strategic objectives of states like Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and the Syrian regime and non-state actors or proxies like ISIL, Jabhat al Nusra, Hayat Tahrir al Sham, and other opposition groups.

Using proprietary software programs, he and other interns on the team typically spent the first half of the day collecting data from news articles. Relevant information in these articles was then processed into events called SIGACTs or “significant activity.” SIGACTs are created to convey “someone or -thing did something to someone or -thing else in X place in Y province in Z country.” Each SIGACT is then located geographically using the Military Grid Reference System.

Dr. Ed Gray is a historian specializing in early American history. He received his AB from University of Chicago in 1988 and PhD from Brown University in 1996. He joined FSU in 1998 and has been the chair of the History Department since 2013.

What is your research interest?

I'm a historian of early America. My work covers European contact with early America in the latter part of the 16th century through the early 19th century. I teach mostly colonial and revolutionary era US history. I'm currently writing a book on the history of the Mason-Dixon Line. It ends with the Civil War, so I'm moving a bit further into the modern era.

How did you decide which field to focus on in graduate school?

In college, I didn't focus on early America. Among the books I read as an undergraduate, one stood out: The Creation of the American Republic by Gordon Wood. I found it unbelievably interesting, and it drew me to early American history. The book was about the ideological foundation of the American form of government. That really captured my interest: the history of politics, political thoughts, and the origin of democratic republican government. When I applied to grad school, I applied to institutions with scholars focusing on the American revolution. I ended up going to where Gordon Wood was a professor, and he became my graduate advisor.

Dr. Sarah Eyerly is the Curtis Mayes Orpheus associate professor at the Department of Musicology. She is also the director of the Early Music program and coordinator of Musicology. She received a BA in music from Pennsylvania State University in 1996, as well as a MM in historical performance from Mannes College of Music in 1999. Dr. Eyerly obtained a graduate certificate in historical performances from the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, the Netherlands. She graduated with both her MA and PhD in musicology and criticism from the University of California, Davis in 2004 and 2007, respectively.

How do you describe yourself as a scholar?

I struggle to define what my area is. My research interest stretches into many academic fields. Technically, I’m a music historian in the Department of Musicology. But I also identify with the academic community of early Americanists, ethnohistory, Native American, and indigenous studies, as well as sound studies and geo-humanity studies. I work with geographers; a lot of my work falls into the field of geography.

Dr. Paul Renfro is an assistant professor of US history. He received his PhD from the University of Iowa in 2016 and joined FSU in 2018.

What is your academic area?

I am an historian of the United States, specifically the post-1945 U.S., and I have thematic interests in gender and sexuality, childhood and family, and the carceral state.

When did you receive your degree?

I earned the PhD in 2016, after six years of graduate school. I don’t think any graduate career is completely smooth as we all face setbacks and challenges in either the application process, or research, or one of the other facets of graduate life. But I have only good things to say about my time in graduate school.

What made you want to study history?

I have long been fascinated by politics. I majored in political science in college, but halfway through, I realized I wasn’t interested in the quantitative stuff, which was at the heart of the discipline. I was more interested in political culture and history. So, I gradually moved over to history and things clicked. I admired my professors, and I decided that this was what I wanted to be. When I applied to grad school, right around the time of the great recession in 2010, I knew I wanted to become a professor, even though I was aware of the barriers and challenges.

Hi there – I am Taylor Rivers, and I graduated from FSU with a major in History in December 2020. Since March 2021, I have been teaching with EPIK (English Program in Korea). I live in Daejeon, Korea’s 5th largest city with a population of 1.6 million people and the hub of Korea’s high speed rail network. I teach at two very different high schools. One high school is for advanced students in math and science, and it is co-ed.  Many of its students are from well-to-do backgrounds, and some have even lived abroad. The other high school I teach at is an all-boys vocational school. Most of these students are from working-class backgrounds and are often less motivated to learn English. I like teaching in both schools. Each has its own quirks. That is what makes my job interesting.