Department of History
HH building, room 136
Tel 519 888-4567 x 43328
Fax 519 746-2658
Faculty members from our department put a lot of work into their teaching, and clearly it shows
Right from the first year of the Distinguished Teaching Awards in 1976, several of our professors have been chosen by students as deserving recognition for their excellence. In addition to two of our colleagues from St. Jerome's, four of our faculty members have been named Distinguished Teachers.
Greta Kroeker (2015)
A specialist in early modern European history, Greta Kroeker teaches courses that focus on the lives, ideas, and cultures of pre-modern people. Her classes seek to incorporate a broad range of teaching and learning methods to help students connect with the past and try to understand how people lived in Europe between about 1450 and 1800. Students in her classes are encouraged to pursue those aspects of history that most intrigue them. In her third year course, “Witches, Wives, and Whores,” for example, students work on projects that recreate and reimagine the lives of early modern women. Some students write papers, but most engage in alternative research projects that produce artifacts or experiences that can be shared and help the entire class “live” an aspect of early modern life. Past projects include building a replica of an early modern birthing chair, a stained glass window, a Lego documentary on women’s lives, learning and teaching an early modern wedding dance, preparing an early modern supper, and a live performance of witch trial and burning in Uptown Waterloo Square!
Gary Bruce (2007)
Gary Bruce teaches 20th century European history, with a focus on Germany. One of his most challenging, and rewarding, courses is a 10 day summer study trip to Berlin, where students are introduced to a number of historic sites and meet with people who have lived through Germany's turbulent century. While in Germany, students engage with concepts of history and memory, and come to an understanding that the manner by which societies remember the past is not objective, but rather entwined with present-day political culture. Bruce attempts to introduce an element of uncertainty to students so that they can reflect on their preconceptions, and empathize with historical actors. One of the most effective ways to do so has proven to be a discussion which Bruce organizes between a former East German secret police officer and the students. His poignant criticisms of western democracies make students uncomfortable, but ultimately help them to see why someone would dedicate his life to Communism.
Andrew Hunt (2005)
A specialist in post-World War II U.S. History, Andrew Hunt focuses broadly on the political, cultural and social transformations that have dramatically altered the very fabric of American life over the past seventy years. He is especially interested in popular culture, particularly representations of the past in motion pictures, television, radio, Internet sites and historical fiction. As the author of a prize-winning series of historical novels, he has repeatedly encouraged his students to explore the ways in which authors of fiction and popular history use – and sometimes misuse – history to tell stories. Students who work with Hunt are routinely exposed to a colourful kaleidoscope of primary sources – diaries, private correspondence, first-hand accounts, oral histories, newspapers, movie trade magazines, court testimonies, film clips, recordings, and so on – in an effort to reconstruct the past. Making sense of these raw materials of history becomes an essential exercise in his courses, whether the focus is on true crime, conspiracy theories, the Hollywood film industry, the Civil Rights Movement, rock ‘n’ roll, animal rights, the paranormal, or any of the other countless topics explored in his classes.
Geoffrey Hayes (2001)
Dr. Geoffrey Hayes began as a part-time lecturer in the History Department in 1989. He is currently an Associate Professor teaching courses such as, Canadian History: The National Period, and Modern Canada. Students comment that “in both classes, his dynamic lecturing abilities, and pure enthusiasm and enjoyment of history was equally great and inspiring.” The structure of his classes and discussions is obviously chosen with care to provide the students with the best opportunity and most effective means to learn. Professor Hayes incorporates photographs and diagrams into his lectures, which enhance the text and subject by helping bring it alive to the audience. Professor Hayes selects readings that challenge his students and help expand their knowledge of the subject. He selects readings from academic sources, as well as from popular magazines of the period, which offer different perspectives worth consideration when examining the historical implications of an event or idea.
There is no doubt that with the combination of well-thought-out lectures and discussions, along with his natural charisma and teaching ability, Professor Hayes leads all his students to a heightened understanding, appreciation and enthusiasm for Canadian History. One student commented, “I do not have any hesitation in saying that any student, regardless of academic background, would feel at ease in Professor Hayes' presence and become intrigued in the topics due to his remarkable ability to draw attention to the subject and make all aspects of the subject interesting.”