Letters to the Editor

On History 340

To the Editor, In his April 23 letter to The Phillipian, Mr. Drench described the reasons for PA’s suspension of History 340. When I met with him in person on May 12 he emphasized the primary barrier to the course’s being offered next year: the fact, to quote from his letter, that “none of the teachers capable of, or interested in teaching H340 next year was able to take on that commitment” (under the conditions it was offered, he stressed in our meeting). I can’t believe that this barrier is truly insurmountable. The History Department is packed to the brim with talented and passionate teachers, any one of whom could act on that passion by continuing the tradition of excellence that is the teaching of H340. We are now in the eleventh hour, and Mr. Drench regretfully claims that things are too far gone for the course to be taught next year, even if someone steps forward. Personally, though, it seems that the coming months are ample time to overcome the bureaucratic stumbling blocks cited by Mr. Drench (such as the difficulty of enrolling students in the course now that advising has all but concluded), and I don’t believe that we should give up before trying. I implore the History Department to step up to the challenge. That students are desperate for History 340 to be taught during 2009-10 has been amply demonstrated. Jake Romanow ’10 and Alex Gottfried ’09 have argued for it eloquently in the pages of The Phillipian, and 81 of the 82 H340 students currently at PA, as well as dozens of others, have signed a letter to the history faculty decrying its suspension. These letters and articles argue that European history is crucial to any history curriculum and that H340 is a vital opportunity for novice history enthusiasts to develop their passion. ‘Why deprive the class of 2012, at the least, of this readily available opportunity?’ we argue, and, in doing so, we are thrust into the ridiculous position of defending the passionate study of history to men and women who have devoted their lives to it. Mr. Drench assures us that history teachers share our sentiments. Why then will no one try to teach the course? I understand how challenging it is to teach a course for the first time, but surely it is also rewarding and worthwhile. In this case, the groundwork has already been laid, and if no one teacher wishes to take on the whole year, then the course could be split across terms. A Renaissance enthusiast, a Napoleon enthusiast and a Cold War enthusiast could each teach the term most intriguing to them. Having seen year after year the incredible caliber of the History Department’s teachers, I know that this course can be taught next year and taught well. I beseech these talented teachers to step forward. And, should one or more do so, I beseech Mr. Drench to do whatever is in his power to see the course taught. Thank you. Christian Anderson ’09