The History Program has been making an effort to be more active, assistant professor of history Dr. Alistair Maeer said.
Texas Wesleyan is hosting the second annual Medievalists and Early Modernists of North Texas and Oklahoma undergraduate conference in February; the program has also added a public history certificate and will be offering eight-week courses soon, Maeer said.
“What makes (the conference) so unique is that there are very few organizations in the nation that are catered specifically for the regional exchange of information between small and big universities specifically for undergraduates,” he said.
The first MEMNTO conference was held at Southern Methodist University, he said. Wesleyan’s MEMNTO will be held on campus at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 17, Maeer said.
“MEMNTO is a conference and an organization designed specifically for undergraduate students to share their knowledge, interests, and perspectives of medieval and early modern history,” Maeer said.
Anyone that had a research paper based on the time period between the fall of Rome until 1650 could have applied to present at MEMNTO. Twenty-four applicants from multiple universities in the Metroplex area and Oklahoma will be participating, Maeer said.
“(The presentation topics are) going to be loads of different things from loads of different perspectives from English majors to art majors,” he said. “What makes it so cool is that Wesleyan is a small school, so we have a really strong history program. We’ve got English; and we’ve got religion and we’ve got all these things, but we don’t have everything.”
A small team of professors can’t teach every topic, but MEMNTO allows the students to experience new ideas in the same field in an engaging way, he said.
“SMU has art history and one of their art historians teaches medieval studies, so her students are going to present,” he said of Dr. Danielle Joyner. “We’re just going to have this amazing array of interdisciplinary undergraduate work. It’s an opportunity for our students to learn from other students and also from their faculty.”
Joyner is going to lead a workshop at the conference about understanding and deconstructing medieval imagery and the medieval concept of time, Maeer said.
The conference was created by Joyner; Maeer; Dr. Margaret Cotter-Lynch from Southeastern Oklahoma State University; and Dr. Kelly Gibson at the University of Dallas. The conference has continued to grow, and the founders hope to start an online undergraduate journal as well.
“Imagine if we could share the faculty knowledge and faculty resources,” Maeer said. “We took four Wesleyan students to SMU. We got to look at medieval manuscripts, honest to God medieval manuscripts, and go to a conference hosted by SMU all because we’re a part of this undergraduate kind of research consortium.”
Maeer said when he first arrived at Wesleyan he couldn’t believe all of the museums and libraries that are close to campus. The department then came up with the idea to add another class to their curriculum and that created a public history certificate opportunity.
“Which might sound daunting but really what it is it’s an applied studies opportunity for any student at Texas Wesleyan,” Maeer said. “If you’re in the humanities or the sciences and you really like museums, archives or libraries, but you just kind of want to work at a museum, then the public history certificate is designed specifically for those people in mind.”
The public history certificate gives students an applied knowledge and field experience that will give them a leg up when applying for jobs, Maeer said.
“If that had existed when I was an undergraduate,” Maeer said, “I would have jumped on it. What’s really cool about this (is that) master’s programs in public history have become exceedingly popular in the last ten years, but there are few if any public history certificates for undergraduate students. It’s just a great opportunity for Wesleyan students.”
In the next few years, Wesleyan will offer this program and will allow them to translate what they are learning in the classroom to the workplace, Maeer said.
History major Alanna James said her professors do a really good job of encouraging their students to participate in conferences.
“The history professors are really good at wanting us to expand our skills and this was a really cool thing Wesleyan is doing because a lot of schools don’t recommend their undergraduates to go out and do conferences,” James said.
James said the reason she wants to present is because she is proud of her paper; she also wants to improve her public speaking skills.
“We had our history meeting last week and they’re trying really hard to amp up the history major,” James said. “We’re getting a public history certificate and eight-week history classes. It’s growing and it’s trying to expand. They’re trying to get more types of classes and (get more) people to go to conferences. You don’t even have to be a history major to present. I love all of the professors here and I think they deserve to have more students to share their knowledge with, so I’m glad it’s growing.”
Lane Kelly, a sophomore history major, said he is most excited for the conference since it will be his first time presenting a history paper; he also wants to hear Joyner lead her workshop.
“Each presentation should be somewhere around 10 to 15 minutes,” Kelly said. “There is not a definite time yet since we do not know how many people will be attending and we do have to fit all the speakers in the time window.”