News and Features

The Florida State University Department of History is honored to announce a memorial service for beloved colleague, teacher, and scholar James P. Jones on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 at 5 p.m. Join the department, friends, colleagues, former students, and more in remembering and celebrating one of the university’s most legendary figures. Jim was a joyous and integral part of Florida State for more than 57 years, and we welcome those whose lives he touched to join us for this event.

Join the Florida State University Department of History Thursday, October 15th at 3 p.m as Kathryn Olivarius, assistant professor of history at Stanford University, delivers the 2020 James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture in American History. Olivarius will present, “Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom,” a look at the intersections of slavery and science in the pre-war American South.

The James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture in American History is an annual event that connects a prominent scholar of U.S. history with FSU audiences and honors the memory of Jim Jones, beloved teacher and scholar in the Department of History who served the university for 57 years.

Diversity, inclusion, and the history of these topics have come to the fore over the past few months as the United States has taken a hard look at its racial history. Over the summer, Dr. Laurie Wood joined Alice Fabela in a Zoom interview to discuss how these topics pertain to Dr. Wood’s scholarly work. Dr. Wood received her PhD in History from University of Texas at Austin. She began teaching in the FSU history department in 2014 and is currently an Associate Professor.

This past spring, it hit me – I finished my dissertation 10 years ago. Wow, it is still a bit of a shock to think about it. Where has all the time gone?

Well, the first year out, I was a visiting assistant professor at Ohio University. Athens, Ohio is a quintessential small town with a big college, and I had a wonderful first professional year there. Until I got that job, I never knew how many family friends had a connection to OU, and since my time there, I have learned that several of my current colleagues also have ties to OU.

Those current colleagues are at Penn State Behrend, which is in Erie, Pennsylvania. I am a tenured associate professor, and I am currently the department chair as well as an assistant director of the honors programs. Being part of Penn State is great because of the access to all of the resources of a large university, but working at a smaller four-year campus is advantageous because I get the opportunity to know my students, both majors and non-majors, really well. Also, as the only faculty member who teaches modern European history, I can teach virtually any class I want.

I’m currently a product manager for the plastic packaging division of Jabil, Inc., one of the largest electronics manufacturing services companies in the world. A lot happened between graduating and now, so bear with me. I tell this to a lot of students, recent grads and colleagues who find themselves second-guessing, and even hating what they’re doing and feel like they’re pigeon-holed.

In the first part of this series of posts, we asked some of FSU History’s graduate students what it was like to participate in a remote conference. In this second piece, we turn to Ben Goff, who organized the History Graduate Student Association’s spring 2020 conference, to find out what it was like to organize such an online event. Ben, who was vice president of HGSA, had been immersed in organizing the conference since September 2019. It was set to take place on April 3, 2020 on FSU’s main campus in Tallahassee.

Three weeks before the event was scheduled to happen, COVID 19 forced FSU to transition to remote instruction to protect the health of its students, faculty, and staff. Dena Sutphin [DS] asked Ben [BG] how he handled the transition.

DS: What kind of challenges did you face in the process?

BG: The greatest challenge was convincing people who had agreed to do an in-person conference to switch to an online format. Most were hesitant for a number of reasons. First, some participants thought they might have to do extra work to prepare for the new online setting. Second, some felt that attendance was not worth the hassle given the lack of in-person interactions and the difficulties of networking online. Finally, others likely had already gotten what they wanted out of the conference. In other words, they could still put a line on their CV without attending, which is understandable given how troubling the pandemic was at the time, …

With 'remote' conferences being the new norm, we felt it was important for students to share their experiences with presenting virtually. We asked several FSU History’s graduate students to talk about the new ‘conference-from-home’ format. Some students had participated in the FSU History Graduate Student Association-run conference in early April, others in an international conference in New Zealand in July. For almost all, these were their first virtual conferences. As could be expected, the new format had both pros and cons.

While the two conferences were on different scales and used different formats, they were both shaped by the technology available. The one-day HGSA conference offered panels for Zoom-based discussion of pre-circulated papers. The Society for French Historical Studies (SFHS)/ George Rudé conference, originally planned to be held in New Zealand, which was spread out across four weeks, consisted of webinars, salons, panels, and keynote events, ranging from entirely pre-recorded to entirely live sessions.


Kiri Raber (KR) and Lee Morrison (LM) both participated in the HGSA conference in a live zoom panel.

It is late summer, which for students and faculty means gearing up for another year at school (whatever that might mean in the current COVID crisis). It also means that another cycle on the academic job market is about to begin. While this year will undoubtedly be particularly perilous and unlike any other in recent memory, I would like to offer a few reflections on my experience as an early-career faculty member on the job market this past year. My experience is admittedly anecdotal, and my end-result potentially atypical, but hopefully I can provide some insights into an often-neglected component of academic life.

After graduating in 2015, I spent a year on the job market before landing a job at Northwest University in rainy Kirkland, WA, right outside of Seattle. Northwest is a small, Christian liberal arts college, and I counted myself incredibly fortunate to land my first job at such an ideal location. But was this a first job, or was it a forever job?

I am the collections and projects coordinator at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. We just staged the exhibit Rightfully Hers, which featured the National Archives pop-up exhibit panels on American woman suffrage alongside contemporary artifacts on loan from Mr. Ronald L. Book and Senator Lauren L. Book. The overall exhibit is an extension of last year’s exhibit, One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Rightfully Hers marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment by the states. The Museum felt two exhibits would allow us to cover the full breadth of the movement. Michelle Sunset, another FSU graduate, did most of the curation and design work for Rightfully Hers.

In Fall 2018, I graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Women’s Studies. Doing a double major allowed me to focus on women’s history specifically and approach history from an intersectional perspective. This has greatly influenced the way I conduct research and work in the museum field.

Tallahassee has been my home for my entire life. Growing up, my parents took me to museums and historical sites whenever possible. These proved to be formative experiences as I decided I wanted to work in museums before I was even fifteen years old. I have volunteered or worked at the majority of museums in town, and started an internship at The Grove Museum in Spring 2018, only one year after it opened.