Student News


A Message from the Chair

Dear History Majors:

Registration season has begun. Hopefully you have all managed to get the classes you want, or at least the classes you need. One thing I would advise you all at this stage to consider is that if there is a class that you even think you might want to take in the fall enroll for it now! Given the current fiscal environment the CAS Dean's Office is going to be very proactive in cancelling classes that fail to make minimum enrollments (exactly what constitutes minimum enrollment tends to be a bit of a moving goal post). The best way to preserve your options for the fall is to ensure that all upper division history courses are well enrolled. Waiting until the week before classes start will be too late, the Dean's office will most likely have already cancelled under enrolled courses by that time. So please act now.

Good luck on finals. All the best to our graduating Seniors. Hope everyone has a fine summer.

See you in the fall! 

-Paul Dunscomb
Chair, History Department

[posted 14 April 2015]


Phi Alpha Theta Third Alaska State Conference

UAA students and the public are invited to the third Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society Alaska State Conference March 26-28. The March 26 public lecture and March 27 panel presentations are free and open to all to attend. The luncheon keynote presentation is by invitation but there is a limited number of tickets available, on a first-come, first-served basis, to UAA, UAF, and UAS students upon registration for the conference.

Please click here for the full conference schedule.

Phi Alpha Theta History Conference 2015


Phi Alpha Theta Third Alaska State Conference to Open with Special Public Lecture

Phi Alpha Theta and the UAA Department of History are pleased to welcome Prof. Brian Feltman of Georgia Southern University as the Keynote Speaker to the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society Third Alaska State Conference, which will take place March 26-28, 2015. 

On Thursday, March 26th Prof. Feltman will give a special public lecture at the UAA Bookstore, entitled "Confronting the Stigma of Surrender: Soldierly Virtue, Manhood, and German Prisoners of War during the Great War, 1914-1919." More than 8 million soldiers surrendered on the battlefields of World War I, but historians have only recently recognized the prisoner of war's significance to the history of the conflict. Examining the experiences of approximately 130,000 German prisoners held in the United Kingdom, this lecture examines the relationship between idealized notions of military masculinity and the stigmatization of prisoners of war. It analyzes their attempts to redeem themselves in the camps of the UK while also considering captivity's impact on former prisoners' postwar lives. Appreciating the stigma of surrender is essential to understanding both the combat and captivity experiences. By drawing attention to the shame of surrender, this lecture seeks to deepen our understanding of not only what it meant to be a prisoner of war, but also what it meant to be a man at war.


[posted 19 March 2015]


Chair's Message to History Majors

Despite my background as an East Asian historian I can neither confirm nor deny that "May you live in interesting times" is an ancient Chinese curse. But as history majors you should all be able to appreciate why it's meant as a curse and not a blessing. Certainly we are now facing some most interesting times in Alaska and at UAA, since the new governor's budget is going to require UA to absorb a budget cut of between 5%-8% for the 2015-2016 academic year.

What can you do to help during the crisis? If you want to take action there are definitely things that you can do. Talking to your legislators and the Board of Regents is one. In fact, since what we in the faculty try to tell them tends to get filtered out, students (and constituents) can be the most effective advocates for UAA. If you'd rather not strong arm your legislators, you can at least bore your friends and colleagues by constantly telling them how great UAA and the department of history is and what it contributes to the community. This is an area where we tend to be at a disadvantage compared to UAF and UAS since, despite the fact that we're the sixth or seventh largest employer in Anchorage, we're kind of hidden in the weeds in the big city. But Anchorage is a college town. The more folks here are aware of that, the more (hopefully) they'll value UAA.

One last thing you can do to help the department is that when registration for the fall semester comes around register for classes! Especially register for upper division history classes. Even if you're still undecided about whether you really want to take this course or that course, register anyway. Making sure upper division courses meet the enrollment minimums is the only way to ensure that you'll actually have a choice to make when the semester begins. So register early and often when the time comes.

We've also got things to look forward to this semester. I hope all of you will at least consider submitting a sample of your work from 2014 to the Student Showcase. History majors do well here and it's a chance for you to take the credit you got for your work and turn it into glory (both personal and programmatic). And even if you're not planning to present during the Phi Alpha Theta Alaska Conference, March 26-27, we hope you'll turn out to support your friends and fellow majors and get a taste of what it means to "do" history for a living.

This is the first time I've tried to address all of you history majors but I think it's good for you to hear from me from time to time and I plan to make this a regular practice. I just don't know what I should call these future updates. I don't want to give them a pedestrian name like "From the Chair's Office" or something like that. Help me out, here. Give me some ideas. In Japan the chair of the department (gakubu) is called the buchō (部長). Maybe we can do something with that?

I hope all of you have a great semester.

Take care.

Paul Dunscomb
Chair, Department of History


Phi Alpha Theta Issues CFP for Spring Student Conference

The UAA Department of History and the Alpha Beta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta extend a call for papers for its Alaska Conference, March 26-27. The Conference welcomes paper proposals on any aspect of history.

Call Paper Timetable: Timely submission of the papers is critical to the success for both the students and the conference. The procedures and timetable below will apply to all submissions.

  1. Deadline for Proposals: By 5pm on January 23, 2015, interested students should submit a one page proposal for their papers including: title, audiovisual needs, and an abstract of 250 words. Proposals along with student contact information, including name, institution, and undergrad or graduate status should be submitted via e-mail to Phi Alpha Theta to both Professor Ray Ball and PAT Chapter President and Student Conference Director Kailyn Vaughan. Please include "Phi Alpha Theta Paper Submission" in the subject line.
  2. Acceptance of Proposals: By February 6, 2015, the Conference Planners will make a decision on all proposals. We will contact students regarding their proposals by February 13, 2015. Students have until February 27, 2015 to accept the invitation.
  3. Presenting the Paper:  Students will be invited to present their papers at the Phi Alpha Theta Spring Conference scheduled for March 26-27, 2015 at University of Alaska Anchorage. Presentations must be no longer than 20 minutes, with a minimum of 15 minutes. Final papers should be no longer than 10 pages, typed, double-spaced, and include full and complete citations. Students are encouraged to use a visual aid, such as a PowerPoint presentation, for incorporating the details of the paper and presentation.
  4. Prize Competition All papers submitted by Phi Alpha Theta members and accepted in response to the call and meeting the minimum standards established by Phi Alpha Theta will be included in the competition for best submission. A prize fund of $100 is available for best paper(s). The criteria for evaluation will reflect: quality of thesis and research, clarity of presentation, and thorough treatment of ideas.
The UAA Phi Beta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta looks forward to receiving proposals in response to the call and is happy to respond to inquiries from interested parties  

PAT Jeopardy Night

Jeopardy_game_boardJoin Phi Alpha Theta for History Jeopardy night! The UAA Chapter of PAT will be playing history-themed Jeopardy from 5:15-7:15pm next Wednesday (11/19) in SSB 223. Pizza and drinks will be served! (Professor Ball would appreciate a rough headcount for the purposes of buying pizza. If you plan to attend, let her know by Wednesday at noon.) For any questions about the organization or its events, contact PAT Chapter President Kailyn Vaughan.

 [posted 14 November 2014]


PAT Planning Meeting for Haunted Halloween Fun Night

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Phi Alpha Theta is hosting a meeting to discuss the coming Haunted Halloween Fun Night put on by the UAA Club Council on October 25th. Phi Alpha Theta will be participating for the first time this year and hopes to brainstorm ideas for booth activities and determine who will staff the booth. We will also be planning a movie night in November. If you have a suggestion for a film, please bring it up at the meeting. We will have some snacks and drinks. All history majors and minors are welcome to attend!

This planning meeting will be held this coming Wednesday, October 15 at 4:00 to 5:00pm in the History Department. If you have questions, contact PAT President Kailyn Vaughan.


PAT Game Night

TGeorges_de_La_Tourhe Alpha Beta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the National History Honors Society) invites history faculty, history majors, and history minors to come party like it's 1624! The chapter is having its first meeting of the year and a Trivial Pursuit Game Night on Wednesday, October 1st from 4:00-6:00pm in SSB 258. All are welcome (but Prof. Ball would appreciate your RSVP to get a headcount for the purposes of supplying food and drink)! Come for a study break and leave with new friendships with other history enthusiasts, bragging rights, and glory!

At the very beginning of the meeting, PAT will be holding officer elections for this year. If you currently hold an office and want to keep it or if you are interested in running for office for the first time, contact PAT faculty advisor Ray Ball. Nominations (including self-nominations) will be accepted until noon on September 30. Officers must be PAT members. Questions about office or the PAT Chapter Constitution can be directed to Chapter President Kailyn Vaughan (


History Fall Tuition Waivers

TheKailyn Vaughan UAA Department of History congratulates majors Kailyn Vaughan and Hannah Sorensen. Both have received tuition waivers for the current semester based on the strength of their academic achievements and on their essays on the topic of why history matters.  Hannah Sorenson


2014 Alaska Cold War Conference

Cold War Conference FlyerThanks to the generosity of the Alaska Historical Commission, complimentary tickets are available to UAA students for the Cold War Conference Keynote Address on Thursday evening, September 4th.  Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet Premier during much of the Cold War Nikita Khrushchev, will present "Cold Warriors:  Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Khrushchev" at UAA's Wendy Williamson Auditorium at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are complimentary, but advance registration is required through the conference's website.



History BA Andrew Lessig Accepts Offer From Syracuse Law

Lessig at GraduationAndrew Lessig, who graduated with Honors in History from UAA in May of 2014, has been accepted to Syracuse University's College of Law. He writes:

"When I was coming up on graduation at UAA as a History major, I was a little confused about my next step. I wanted to do something useful that would let me make a difference, and, of course, comfortably provide for myself. I sent out more than 20 applications to schools throughout the nation before I even knew what my LSAT results were. Alaska unfortunately remains the only state in the union without a law school so a big change was on the horizon, and I anxiously waited to hear back. To my surprise, schools accepted me in rapid succession, but it became pretty obvious that Syracuse was the best choice for me. With the best scholarship offer, the best reputation, and the best quality of education it was no contest.

As I begin my studies at Syracuse University College of Law it is already becoming obvious that my background in History from the University of Alaska Anchorage has prepared me well. A history education relies on reading assignments and forces you to analyze and examine the role of the past in what happened thereafter. This made the transition to reading, and having to understand, lengthy precedence-setting cases manageable, and what is case precedence other than legal history? With my background in History and my continuing education in the law, I plan on going on to join the Armed Services as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) and/or to become a prosecutor, who uses the law and legal history everyday to make our society safer, and better."

The History Department congratulates Andrew on his scholarship and wishes him the best of luck in his future educational pursuits at Syracuse!

[posted 26 August 2014]