Neufeld Appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

It is always a delight to welcome Grebel alumni back to the College as employees. Beginning July 1, 2019, David Y. Neufeld will serve at Grebel as Visiting Assistant Professor of History for two years. He will also hold a research fellowship during his first year.

David NeufeldNeufeld comes to Grebel as a highly-regarded and accomplished teacher of European and world history from the University of Arizona, where he completed a master’s degree, followed by a doctorate in 2018. He received a BA in History from the University of Waterloo in 2009 with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. He is the author of Common Witness: A Story of Ministry Partnership between French and North American Mennonites, 1953-2003.  

“We are looking forward to David’s arrival,” said Dean Troy Osborne. “This appointment will allow us to maintain Grebel’s tradition of offering courses in History and Mennonite Studies. Next year, David will be teaching histories of Christianity, the Reformation, and a general history of modern Europe. In the second year, we hope that he will offer some exciting, new courses in Latin American history or Games and Play in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.” Neufeld’s approach to teaching encourages students to go beyond simply learning dates and facts to examine critically how historians tell the story of the past.

“Opportunities for an early-career historian to find an institutional home where they can teach and conduct research are increasingly uncommon,” explained Neufeld. “It is a special privilege for me to be able to do these things at a school with a long-standing commitment to studies in my field of expertise—Anabaptist history. I am looking forward to regularly engaging with students and colleagues around a question we have much difficulty answering: How do we understand the past and what is our relationship to it?” Neufeld explained that in the classroom, he supplements lectures with activities that use course content to engage students in the tasks of historical research: the identification and analysis of historical evidence, the construction and critique of historical arguments, and peer review. As a researcher, he works continuously to practice those same skills.

The Institute for Anabaptist Mennonite Studies (IAMS) at Grebel has also named Neufeld the 2019-20 J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies. He will research Anabaptist archival cultures and practices, as well as investigating a new archival turn in early modern European historiography that recasts archives as the products of historical processes, not neutral bodies. He proposes to apply this archival turn to Anabaptist archival sources, which has the potential to reopen questions long thought settled in Anabaptist historiography. As the Fretz Scholar, Neufeld will offer a public lecture, collaborate with IAMS colleagues and the archives, and use the unique resources of the Milton Good Library.

 “The College’s strengths in the area of Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies, represented by Grebel’s faculty and the resources available in the Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario, align perfectly with my own teaching and research interests,” said Neufeld. “With the support of the Fretz Fellowship, I intend to expand an existing project on early Anabaptist archival practices and cultures and their impact on shaping what we can know about these nonconformists. I will continue to prepare my doctoral dissertation, which explores dynamics of coexistence and conflict between Anabaptists and Reformed in seventeenth-century Zurich, for publication.”

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