ALL OF THIS BELONGS TO THE AUTHOR. DO NOT COPY OR CITE WITHOUT
Dr. Kirsti Sandy
February 13, 2002
An Interview with Professor Thomas Whitcomb
In my short time here at Keene State College, I have had professors with backgrounds in many different areas. I had a sociology professor who spent over a decade in the Sahara, a biology professor that had never left the New Hampshire area for a long period of time, and a history professor who was very modest about his experiences outside of teaching, mentioning little tid-bits that kept me interested and curious. As an American Studies major, I believe that it is important to look at different aspects of what I plan to spend my life studying. I chose to interview Professor Whitcomb, whom I have had for Traditional and Modern Civilization. While these courses, and Professor Whitcomb’s subject area do not apply directly to the American experience, I do not want to limit my knowledge or cut myself off from the endless possibilities that the world has to offer.
Professor Whitcomb began his college endeavors in 1953 at Bard College, where he remained until 1955. In 1958 he received a B.A. in History from the University of New Hampshire, and in 1960 he proceeded to Georgetown University to do graduate work. Whitcomb remained at Georgetown until 1963. While at Georgetown, he was an editorial assistant of the New York Herald Tribune in Washington, D.C. In 1964, Whitcomb became a correspondent for Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia at the Voice of America in Rabat, Morocco, and he remained at this location until 1970. At Voice of America, a news broadcast service overseas that broadcasts in many different languages, Whitcomb wrote broadcasts, and recorded some [broadcasts] in English. From 1974 until 1976, Whitcomb was the planner and coordinator of International Voluntary Services, Incorporated in Sana’a, Yemen. In 1976, Whitcomb began a very important part of his career. He began teaching History at the American School of Tangier, in Tangier, Morocco, where he remained until 1994. While at the American School of Tangier, Whitcomb served as a professor, Assistant/ Acting Headmaster (1986-1994) and headed the Arabic department from 1992 until 1994. While continuing on with his career, Whitcomb attained his Ph.D. in History in 1979 from the School of Oriental and African Studies, which is affiliated with The University of London. His dissertation was The Origin and Emergence of the Tribe of Kunta: A Contribution to the History of the Western Sahara Between the Almoravid Period and the Seventeenth Century. His research was done with the help of a grant from The University of London.
After his time in Morocco, Whitcomb traveled to Florida where he worked at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg at the ESL (English as a Second Language) Center, Schiller International University in Dunedin as a catalog editor and as an ESL instructor. In 1997, Whitcomb became an adjunct instructor of History/ Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He only stayed there for a year before arriving at Keene State College, where he has been an adjunct professor for four years.
With such a lengthy resume, much of it not even mentioned here, it is clear that Professor Whitcomb is very knowledgeable in the historical and international fields. Thus, he has taught a variety of classes at Keene, as well as the other institutions he has worked for. At Keene, Professor Whitcomb teaches World Civilization: Antiquity to 1500, and then 1500 to the Present, Western Civilization: Origins to 1500, and then 1500 to the Present. He also teaches United States History and Government classes.
Where did you grow up, go to school and attend college?
I grew up and went to school in New Hampshire. [Professor Whitcomb spent time at Bard College, The University of New Hampshire, Georgetown University and The University of London.]
What is your degree in/ what is your specialization?
My B.A. and Ph.D. are in History. My doctoral dissertation dealt
with North and West Africa in the Middle Ages.
Have you had other jobs and how did they relate to your field of study?
The important ones [jobs] before I started teaching were as a journalist
in North Africa and as an administrator for development projects in Yemen.
These gave me an opportunity to travel and live in different countries
and learn about their societies, and to learn French and Arabic.
How long have you been at KSC, and what classes do you teach?
I have been at KSC since the fall of 1998. I teach ancient Middle Eastern history, world history, Western history, United States history, and courses on the history of Africa and the Muslim world.
What kind of writing do you do? Professional publications, personal, research areas…
I have devoted so much effort to teaching in recent years that I have little time to do much research and writing. For the past three semesters, I have taught five courses at KSC and I have taught a full schedule of courses every summer since I have been here. As an adjunct instructor at the College, I do not receive support for research and writing projects. In the past I have published articles related to the work I did for my Ph.D. dissertation and reviews of works done by others. In the near future, I hope to publish a translation of an account of the Indian sub-continent by Ibn Battuta, a fourteenth-century Moroccan traveler. This will be done in collaboration with colleagues from the University of California at Santa Cruz and San Diego State College.
What do you think is the most important aspect of writing in history?
Careful and thorough research in primary sources, a significant thesis that is well supported and accurately documented, and clarity. Ideally, it should have some relevance to the current issue, but one should avoid broad generalizations beyond the scope of one’s research and field of specialization.
What should students who are taking your classes know about writing? Styles?
All of the above, and especially that history is a form of literature and should be written in a style appropriate for the discipline and the audience. The slang and clichés of popular culture should be avoided, but this is difficult because they are so prevalent. Extensive reading of good literature can be an effective antidote to the decay of language and can help improve one’s style.
You have mentioned in class that you spent time living in Yemen, and have traveled in Europe. What are some of your greatest experiences?
The greatest experience I have had have been in the course of traveling and working (about 30 years) in Mediterranean countries where the Western and Islamic civilizations began, especially the exploration of remote rural areas where much of the early cultures still existed. I have particularly enjoyed hiking and traveling by off-road motorcycle in mountain and desert areas that would have been otherwise inaccessible. Some adventures were injudicious, such a trip across the Sahara, from the Mediterranean to West Africa, and a trip into the Empty Quarter of southern Arabia; extreme climatic conditions and lack of effective government can pose many hazards, and during one trip one of my companions died from dehydration. I have learned a great deal from friends, including professors from European and American Universities, some of whom have traveled with me; other scholars in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; government officials and other prominent persons; and even traditional villagers and nomads in North Africa and the Middle East, far removed from the life of the modern world.
You also mentioned in class that you were noted in an author’s bibliography…what influence did you have on that author?
Although I have not been able to do much research and publishing since I finished my dissertation, I am pleased to see that material I have published has been used by others. Perhaps my most significant findings, used in a recent book on a medieval city in southern Mauritania, have concerned the remolding of Saharan society with the spread of Islam and the Arabic language in the Middle Ages.
If you were not a professor at Keene State, what would you be doing?
I like the academic environment, and especially teaching students who are curious about the world beyond what they have experienced and view their studies as more than just a means to getting a degree and a job. If I were not at KSC, I would like to work at an institution where I could teach more advanced courses in my field and do more research and writing, preferably in Europe, where I would be closer to the regions that interest me. If I were not teaching, I would like to be able to devote myself entirely to research and writing, especially on the early Mediterranean world, not just history, but also religion, philosophy, and language and literature. Ideally this would include living in that region.
My experiences with this project were wonderful. I was able
to discover information about field research that is related to a major
in history, and I have found that there is more to writing then simply
analytical papers. Professor Whitcomb has an extensive list of publicized
reviews, and his work for Voice of America is quite impressive. “ If I
were not teaching, I would like to be able to devote myself entirely to
research and writing…” (Whitcomb). This is very inspiring to hear,
because although he does not have a great deal of time right now, Whitcomb
is very interested in continuing his research and writing in his field.
Whitcomb, Thomas. Email to Cate Brennan. 11 Feb. 2002.
Whitcomb, Thomas. Resume of Prior Jobs and Experience.
Dr. Kirsti Sandy
January 30, 2002
Movie Tickets: An Online Search
For those who leaf through the paper on Friday night looking for movie listings, the Internet provides a service that saves both time and frustration. Websites now allow a user to look up movie times and locations, buy tickets online, and much more. Because of their content, such as reviews, trailers, photo galleries, and the ease of using the site, the three best websites that are currently on the Internet are www.moviefone.com, www.movies.go.com, and movies.yahoo.com.
One of the best websites for looking up movie theatres on the Internet is www.moviefone.com. On this site, it is possible to access show times; information about movie stars, previews, reviews, photo galleries, and there is even a video rental link. Moviefone lists the top five movies out, and provides a link so you can find out how the box office was over the weekend. When searching for a movie on Moviefone, enter your zip code or city and it then lists all of the movie theatres in your area. From those sites, you can search for any movies that are currently playing. In addition, Moviefone will map directions to your theatre of choice, and runs accurate searches of local restaurants, bars and other establishments that are within a mile of the theatre. For those who have a busy schedule, Moviefone and America Online have joined together and you can automatically enter movie times and locations into your online date book!
Though Moviefone is a great site, www.movies.go.com is a bit more comprehensive. At first glance, there are plenty of features. The top five box office hits are listed, as well as the top five DVD rentals, in case you are looking to spend the night at home. To begin your search at www.movies.go.com, choose a movie from the drop down list. This site offers an immediate search of nearly three times as many movies as Moviefone, giving you more choices for your night at the theatre. Some of the movies that it lists have been in theatres for quite some time and perhaps you thought you had missed your chance to see them! It also lists a few independent films and has timetables and locations for IMAX and big-screen theatres. After choosing your movie, enter a zip code and pick the theatre of your choice. If you are a frequent theatregoer, www.movies.go.com allows you to have a “favorites” list to make future searching easier! Once you have found a movie, the Movie Details option opens easy to read reviews, an overview of the plot, cast and crew information, a photo gallery, trailers, and “remind me when on DVD” if it looks like it is not worth a trip to the theatre!
While many may enjoy the frills of Moviefone and www.movies.go.com, there are occasions when you just want to find a movie timetable. Movies.yahoo.com is the perfect solution. While it is possible to see reviews, photo galleries and more, movies.yahoo.com allows for a simple search of your local theatre, and tells exactly what is playing- when and where. So, if you don’t want to be told a plot, or look at photos, then this is the perfect site! However, another great feature on this site is that movies.yahoo.com allows you to set up an account that emails you when movies are being released and the show times. While this may seem like junk mail to some, those who frequent the movie theatre may find it to be extremely helpful.
With the help of technology, you no longer have to search through the paper looking for movie listings. The Internet provides all of the information that you need, and some information that you did not know you needed with the click of a mouse. Many more movie search engines are available, however Moviefone, www.movies.go.com, and movies.yahoo.com are by far the best. They allow you to access information quickly and easily, and occasionally you will even find a theatre that allows you to either reserve or buy tickets online, and save the hassle of waiting on a long line.
America Online. Moviefone. 27 Jan 02 <www.moviefone.com>
Movies.com. 27 Jan 02 <www.movies.go.com>
Yahoo. 28 Jan 02 <movies.yahoo.com>
January 24, 2002
Many teachers have made an impact on my life, and have influenced my
desire to teach, but there was one who stood out. This teacher guided me
not only through the classroom, but also through all the trials and tribulations
of being a high school student who has friends and family and many other
stresses in addition to having classes. She became not only a teacher,
but also someone I could talk to about anything, and receive a comforting,
yet honest response.
My teachers name was Terri Wecht, or Mrs. Wecht depending on to whom she was speaking. She taught a variety of classes, and through out most of high school, I managed to strategically make my schedule so that she would fit in somehow. My first Wecht-experience was sophomore year. I was overly quiet and rather modest about my work; to make that worse, I was terrified. It was my first year in an honors English class, and I considered my classmates to be venomous and snobby overachievers. Mrs. Wecht understood my initial intimidation, and she allowed me to move along the course at my own pace, work with people that I was comfortable with and slowly grow to be a more confident person.
The confidence that I gained in her class grew, and when I took another course with her junior year, our relationship grew. Mrs. Wecht became a very strong role model for me, as she shared her knowledge of the arts and humanities, and of being a teacher. We began to converse outside of class, sharing bits and pieces of our lives—her college experiences, why she wanted to be a teacher and we talked about what I wanted to do with my life. By the end of my junior year, Mrs. Wecht’s influence gained me two leadership experiences that I will never forget. On was Drum Major of the marching band, for without her confidence in my ability, I would not have even tried out for, and the other was a position that she entrusted me with, the Editor–in-Chief of the senior yearbook.
The person that I was when I entered Mrs. Wecht’s sophomore English class is not the same person that walked down the aisle at graduation, head held high. I consider her to be the epitome of what a great teacher is, and she has inspired me to look forward to a future where I can help students, at least partly as much as she has helped me.
American Studies: The 1960’s
The seeds of the 1960’s: the 1950’s
Catalyst- speeds up a reaction
Teen culture was created
Elvis- played “black”n rock music + country= “hillbilly rock”
Music was played on 45’s
Black artists: Chuck Berry, Fast Domino (?)
All made top 40 radio…rhythm and blues
Young people were given their own music
-a new sensation
-Pop Culture was born, and since then every generation has had its own teen culture
1950’s teens and children had an income that generations before had not experienced. They had possessions that they did not really need.
History teachers did not talk about anything controversial, and didn’t
go passed the 1920’s
-parents wanted to shield children from the horrors of the past—didn’t want to re-live it
-civil rights and black conflicts were not brought up, but soon it was seen on the news
p. 123 (Bloom?)
kids felt that life was being packaged for them
many times, rebellors were in the minority
1950’s America—anti-communism, cold war, time of fear, paranoia, hysteria,
Don’t question America
Pinko- communist supporter
WWII ended w/ atomic bomb in 1946
soon, the soviet nation had atomic weapon
Classroom setting, turtle cartoon—duck and cover
If the atom bomb explodes
“be ready every day”
friendly commercial showing how it was part of everyday, just like stop, drop and roll is today
-accusations, witch hunts
-house of un-American activities committees
Split character of American teen-life in the 1950’s
“Leave it to beaver”—what it was supposed to be like
The catalyst—cold war, anticommunism, McCarthyism, atomic bomb
Video—Seeds of the Sixties
Rebellious new generation was a threat to the morals and values up held in the 1960’s
Baby boom—76 million—powerful and influential generation
1950’s parents were very protective due to the Great Depression and WWII
Children were the center of life and very spoiled
Kids then assumed that life would be good and even get better with no effort
Women were taught that they should be housewives and mothers, and that is all they should be. Even if they went to college, they took courses that related to the home.
The “RULES” (for children)
-obey authorites—don’t ask questions
-children should be seen and not heard
-never ask why?
-control emotions—if you don’t behave, you are not normal
-fit in with the group
-don’t even think about having sex
The rebellion begins…
Some kids were inspired by beatniks
Book bans began—peyton place, catcher in the rye
Rock and Roll—not as easy to censor—kids heard it everywhere
-Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat
-began civil rights movement
-381 day boycott of busses
-brought economic pressure
After Brown v. Board of Ed decision, there was a brewing hostility (sit-in’s in the 60’s expressed this) because public officials did not hold to their end of the ruling—schools were still segregated until 1957 when 6 black students were admitted to a white school.
black parents sued school to allow children to go to a nearby school instead of bussing 1/2/3 miles. PTA convinced white parents to move kids to different school and that left the school for all blacks
Greensboro was a progressive town
-students (black) were taught in school not to accept discrimination
Montgomery bus boycott
-provided a focus for discussion, a catalyst
classic example of racism in America is that it was considered “sophisticated” racism
January 29, 2002
Class Prep #2
Sociocultural Theory: Guided Participation
The main person associated with the Sociocultural theory is Lev Vygotsky, a psychologist from the former Soviet Union. This theory explains how guidance and support provided by society affects how an individual matures. Guided Participation shows how children learn the basic tasks that every culture has, and how this learning comes from direct interaction with a “tutor” which can be anything from a teacher or parent to one of his peers that has already mastered this skill. The tutor teaches the child how to do different things, such as learning the alphabet or doing simple everyday jobs. Children develop many of their cognitive abilities through simple tasks, such as watching a friend play a video game, or a child watching a mother brush her hair. The example that I thought of was of how I learned to blow dry my hair. It was never a skill taught in school, but by watching my mom, I learned how to straighten, curl and fluff! I watched her blow dry her own hair, and then I tried it on my own. When I was unsuccessful (and my hair was a poofy mess!) my mom helped me- brushing as I held the dryer, and then we switched. After time, I was able to dry my hair on my own!
February 7, 2002
Class Prep 3
Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart
The issue raised in this study was whether or not twins will develop
differently if they are separated at birth. Different sets of twins
were separated at birth and raised in completely different places with
different cultures. Although they grew up differently, and settled
in different places, all of the twins that met later in life were extremely
similar. Two men discovered that they had the exact same idiosyncrasies,
as well as similar relationship experiences and they dressed very much
alike. Twin women met for the first time, and both showed up wearing
7 rings and 3 bracelets on the same hands. The study showed that
although people grow up differently, we are genetically destined to do
some things, and since twins share the same genetic material, they are
going to share many obvious traits.
My searches on the Internet lead me to the site www.psych.umn.edu/ psylabs/mtfs/, the University of Minnesota’s Psychology department. They are the organization that originally started the study of twins reared apart, and much more extensive research has been done than that mentioned in Berger.
- Began study on adult development in 1986 to discover differences in aging
- Participants endured 8 hours of interviews that established academic ability, personality, interests, family and social relationships, mental and physical health, and the researchers took psychological measurements.
- Participants contact the university every 3 years to update this info
February 12, 2002
229 Main St
Keene, NH 03435
February 12, 2002
Ms Nancy May
Kid’s Clubhouse, Inc
125 Goffle Ave
Midland Park, NJ 07432
Dear Ms May:
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to apply for a position in your business. It is encouraging to see that even with all of the financial hardships that our nation is experiencing, there are still employers willing to welcome new members to their teams.
While in high school, I spent much of my time working with children of varying ages. Many families employed me as a babysitter, where I worked with children who had severe learning disabilities, autistic children, and children who were of average/ above average in their age groups. I have experience working with cooperative aids, and with parents. My experiences with children are not limited to babysitting. I have spent the last three summers at Kids’ Kingdom Day Camp working with ages 5-13. My responsibilities there were vast, from coordinating sports activities, to designing crafts and reading at story time. I also worked for Kid’s Clubhouse this past summer, where I was primarily responsible for ages 2-5. This was a wonderful experience and has encouraged me to apply for this position once again.
At Keene State College, where I am working towards my degree in Elementary Education, I volunteer two hours a week at the Child Development Center. I work with pre-school aged children during their playground/activity time. This is a very educational experience for me because I am able to see how children at such a young age interact with one another. I plan to continue in this position for the remainder of the semester, and hopefully return to it next semester as well.
Because of my experience, I feel that I am well qualified for this position. I enjoy working with children, and the classroom setting that offered at Kid’s Clubhouse is exceptional. Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing from you.
February 13, 2002
Group II: A. How did John Locke’s theory of government justify the English revolution of 1688, and how did that revolution and aftermath ensure that the English monarch would henceforth be limited?
In the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, the idea of an absolute monarchy was a governmental practice used by the French and the English, more successfully by the French. Absolutism here was not the same as it had been in the past. It was no longer synonymous with despotism, nor did the rulers that enforced it believe that it was a case for arbitrary rule. John Locke championed against absolute monarchies, and his influence not only justified the English revolution in 1688, but it ensured that the English Monarchy would never regain absolute power.
John Locke argued that human beings are born naturally equal and free of governmental rule. Throughout time, as societies developed, a need arose for the creation of governing bodies to ensure that everyone was given an equal share of “natural law,” in essence, life, liberty and property. While Locke understood that absolute monarchies of the past and the system that was in place at the time were very different he did not believe that political agencies should be able to interfere with a persons individual rights.
In 1688, a “Glorious Revolution” occurred. After the reign of Cromwell, and the death of his successor, Charles II, James II became king. James II was a catholic, who feared the upheaval of his government would be caused by his religious background, abdicated the throne and ran. What happened after that was revolutionary. Parliament passed a Bill of Rights, which reaffirmed English civil liberties (as per Locke’s “natural law” theory) and the throne was given to William and Mary of Holland. Beginning with their rule, the English monarchs would never have complete control over the population as they did before 1688.
The revolution that John Locke began in England balanced out power, giving Parliaments two houses complete control over the government, and instating a pre-checks and balances type of system. Locke’s theories not only impacted England, but also the United States (which was not even born at this time), as it drafts its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, they will refer back to Locke’s intuition.
February 13, 2002
Group I: C. How had the political, economic, and social structures that
Western Europe had inherited from the Middle Ages changed by the eighteenth
The social, economic and political structures that were present in the Middle Ages changed drastically by the eighteenth century due to the rise in population, the discovery of new farming techniques and expansion of territory and the rise of mercantilism.
Society in the eighteenth century had the same basic principals as it did in the Middle Ages with class separations: landlords and nobles and peasants and serfs. Each group had its own specific duties, and they worked separately to make a collective whole. The size of the population was not very large though due to the plague, other diseases, and a lack of food that was brought on by bad harvests. The population remained small until the middle of the eighteenth century, when there was a sudden boom in population (due to decrease in infant mortality and better climate-better crops). Territories began to expand, and land was used to grow more crops that had not been available in earlier times. Cities also began to develop and housed a majority of the growing population.
The economy began to grow and change; there was an increasing amount of change to accommodate for manufacturing and trade. While at the beginning of the early modern period the agricultural practices that were in use were primarily from the middle ages, by the mid to late eighteenth century, there were many new innovations being used. A prime example is that they discovered “scientific farming” which allowed them to bring higher crop yields and a greater variety of crops. These increases in crop yield soon lead to a capitalistic mentality. Landlords allowed tenants to work on their land for crops, and trade became prevalent between estates. From this, mercantilism developed. Mercantilism is when a country exports more than it imports, thereby increasing the worth of a country by quite a bit.
Mercantilism began a whole new economy for many countries. It was both economically and politically advantageous for these countries to then settle colonies overseas. Because the colonies would be under the rule of the founding country, and new settlements meant new resources, there would be even more to export.
Society, the economy and the drive of politics all changed drastically between the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century. New ideas, advancements in technology and economic stimulus all impacted these changes, and continued to effect organized structures as the years progressed.