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History

The history program at Randolph College focuses not only on historical events, individuals, and institutions, but also on methodology, analysis, and interpretation, and the critical examination of sources. 

Why Study History at Randolph?

Studying history is about more than just sitting in a classroom, and in Randolph’s Central Virginia home, it’s everywhere–from national landmarks to Civil War trails and sites to the home of a renowned Harlem Renaissance poet.

Students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge by visiting sites that include Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s retreat home; Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, where Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender ended the Civil War; the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, where the poet and civil rights activist welcomed such esteemed guests as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall; and the National D-Day Memorial, which honors American D-Day veterans.

History majors are encouraged to specialize within the department, whether it be in a geographic region; a period, such as the 18th or 19th century; or in a thematic area, such as women’s history or social/cultural history.

Degrees offered

Bachelor of Arts Degreein History

Minor in History

Curriculum and Courses

Related Programs

Museum and Heritage Studies

Political Science

Pre-Law

Art History

Program Overview

Faculty employ various approaches to teaching history, incorporating movies, novels, memoirs, guest speakers, field trips, and even foreign travel into the curriculum.

History majors develop analytical and critical-thinking skills and learn to present evidence-based arguments. The practical knowledge and skills gained as a history major are respected in a variety of career paths, as well as professional and graduate schools.

Graduates of the program have gone on to work in a variety of fields, including archaeology, public policy, foreign intelligence, curatorial and collections management, and education.

Why Randolph

Randolph’s history program requires you to dig to the next level of a situation or issue at hand. Often, the first answer isn’t right and/or complete. The history major at Randolph teaches you to not be satisfied with the first answer and to continue searching for the  truth and the most correct answer.

Will Dede '14
Health Policy Associate for Special Needs Plan Alliance

Unique Experiences

Outcomes

Historic Preservation Law

Janie Campbell ’12, history major
Preservation Consultant, law firm of Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn, LLC, Columbia, South Carolina

Janie’s group works with developers seeking tax credits for rehabilitating historic properties.

“I work closely with project architects to ensure that historic, character defining elements of each building are preserved and restored, which can vary tremendously as what is significant to a 1929 airplane hangar is vastly different from what makes a 1963 mid-century modern motel unique!”

She writes National Register of Historic Places nominations and Historic Preservation Certification applications, which detail the property’s significance.  She also conducts site visits to ensure work is being completed as described and photographs the before, during, and after conditions of each project.

“Randolph certainly laid the foundation for my research and writing skills. The Summer Research Program, in particular, prepared me for the type of place-based research I do now. “

Opportunities

Top Ranked Professors

Randolph College’s faculty are consistently recognized as among the best in the nation. The Princeton Review ranked the College 18th for most accessible professors in the 2020 edition of its flagship college guide, The Best 385 Colleges.

Randolph has been ranked in the top 20 for most accessible professors for three consecutive years.

Gerard Sherayko

Professor of History

Read More... Gerard Sherayko

Selda Altan

Assistant Professor of History

Read More... Selda Altan

Chelsea Berry

Assistant Professor of History

Read More... Chelsea Berry

Justina Licata

Visiting Professor of American Culture

Read More... Justina Licata

Julio Rodriguez

Associate Professor of American Culture, Director of the American Culture Program

Read More... Julio Rodriguez

Department News

Randolph holds Monacan Indian Nation land acknowledgement ceremony

Randolph College honored a key part of its history Thursday during a land acknowledgement ceremony with the Monacan Indian Nation.

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Research project delves into the controversy surrounding Virginia’s Confederate monuments

“We all realized we have this civic responsibility to take on something meaningful to the times and the social and political changes we’re going through right now,” said Tomi-Lauren McGinnis '23.

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Altan presents at International Conference of Labour and Social History

Altan, assistant professor of history presented “A Quest for Chinese Workers: Global Labor Markets in Coolies and the Making of the Chinese Working Class."

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Randolph holds Monacan Indian Nation land acknowledgement ceremony

Randolph College honored a key part of its history Thursday during a land acknowledgement ceremony with the Monacan Indian Nation.

Read More

Research project delves into the controversy surrounding Virginia’s Confederate monuments

“We all realized we have this civic responsibility to take on something meaningful to the times and the social and political changes we’re going through right now,” said Tomi-Lauren McGinnis '23.

Read More

Altan presents at International Conference of Labour and Social History

Altan, assistant professor of history presented “A Quest for Chinese Workers: Global Labor Markets in Coolies and the Making of the Chinese Working Class."

Read More
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Department Chair

Gerard Sherayko

Professor of History

Credentials:B.A, Widener University
M.A., Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D., Indiana University
Associated Departments:History, Museum and Heritage Studies
Office:Smith 304
Phone:434.947.8521
Email:gsherayko@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

When I applied for a teaching position here, I had never heard of the College. I knew I wanted to teach at a small school, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this campus, its students, and its emphasis on academics. This place is more than a job for me. There is something special here that makes you feel at home. We’re able to do so much more in class because of the College’s small size.

My classes give me the opportunity to help students understand their world and the importance of history. I teach courses on general 20th century European history, German history and Russian history as well as seminars such as Propaganda, Genocide, The Holocaust, and Women and the Two World Wars. I also teach a course entitled Paris and Berlin in the 1920s: A Cultural History. This class, inspired by my own scholarly research on the evolution of a consumer culture in Germany during the 1920s, explores the unprecedented explosion of artistic creativity that emerged from the cafes, cabarets, and studios of Paris and Berlin.

Like most of the professors here, I try to bring my classroom alive for students. You can’t learn everything from just one textbook. Since I love movies, I integrate films into all of my classes. I also assign novels, memoirs, and biographies and utilize images to provide a visual context for many of the topics discussed in my courses.

But most importantly, we talk. One of my favorite aspects about the College is its diversity. There are so many international students here and in my classes. When I am teaching about various events, it is amazing to have students from places like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Germany, Argentina, Jamaica, Mongolia, and Romania sharing their and their families’ stories. These different perspectives add so much to class discussions.

I, along with faculty colleagues, have also taken students to Prague and Berlin as part of a course entitled Coming to Terms with the Past. While on this trip, we visited many important historical sites and museums that deal with the imperial, Nazi and communist pasts and met many eyewitnesses to history including a Holocaust survivor, a Czech pilot who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II, and a former East German prisoner. Randolph College Associate Professor of French Jamie Rohrer and I have also taken students to Paris and Berlin for a course entitled Capitals of Culture. Since this course concentrated on art, architecture, literature and cinema of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we visited museums such as the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Film Museum, Jewish Museum, and Bauhaus Museum in Berlin.

I have also participated in Randolph College’s American Culture Program. Dealing with issues such as the impact of Disney on America and the theme of movement in American culture, I, along with colleagues with expertise in fields such as gender studies, geography, American literature, and folklore have taken students to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Savannah, Orlando, Washington, Philadelphia and New York City.

I also frequently lead field trips to Washington, D.C. to visit museums such as the National Gallery and the Holocaust Museum. My goal is to take students on a summer trip to Germany for a course on the impact of World War II in the next few years.

Given my expertise in twentieth century German history, I joined the board of the Holocaust Education Foundation of Central Virginia soon after I arrived in Lynchburg. As a member of the board, I’ve been able to help bring several guest speakers to Lynchburg to discuss issues surrounding the impact of the Holocaust. I’ve brought two Holocaust survivors to speak at the Randolph College campus: Eva Kor, whose life story is featured in the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele, and Gerda Weissmann Klein. Klein’s story is presented in the Academy Award winning documentary One Survivor Remembers and I use her memoir All But My Life in my introductory modern European history course.

Besides my interest in history I have a passion for historic preservation. Inspired by an architectural boat tour of Chicago over twenty years ago, I became involved in historic preservation efforts while a graduate student back in Indiana. In 2006 I joined the board of the Friends of Rivermont Historical Foundation (FORHS) and in 2007 I became the board president. Dedicated to preserving and improving the beauty, safety and community spirit of Historic Rivermont, the FORHS board conducts several community outreach programs including an annual ice cream social and a holiday lights tour. In addition, in 2010 and 2011 I participated in the College’s Summer Research Program to conduct research on the individual buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District (including Randolph College). Working with four RC History majors, we gathered information and took photos of the buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District for the FORHS website www.friendsofrivermont.org

When I’m not teaching, you are most likely to find me traveling. My wife, Carolyn, and I love to visit art museums, buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, presidential sites, movie palaces, and classic diners. We also like to check out weird attractions such as the World’s Largest Bull or the World’s Largest Badger or the two competing World’s Largest Balls of Twine. We’ve even seen the World’s Largest Talking Cow, which rests beside the World’s Largest Replica Cheese in Neillsville, Wisconsin. As always, we hope to hit a few more presidential sites and unique roadside attractions this year.

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Selda Altan

Assistant Professor of History

Credentials:B.A., Bogaziçi University
M.A., Bogaziçi University
Ph.D., New York University

Associated Departments:History, Asian Studies
Office:Smith 302
Phone:4349478522
Email:saltan@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey. I received my undergraduate degree in history and sociology at Bogazici University, Istanbul. As an undergraduate, I attended two summer schools at Tianjin Normal University in China to improve my Chinese. For my master’s degree in history at Bogazici University, I studied at Nanjing University for one year on a Chinese government scholarship. I completed my research in China with an additional semester in Beijing Normal University. When I returned to Turkey, I worked as the assistant to the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at Bogazici University. In 2010, I was admitted to the Ph.D. program in history at New York University. After three years of coursework in New York, I researched in Chinese and French archives. I received my doctorate in 2017 with a dissertation entitled, “Labor and the Politics of Life Along the Yunnan-Indochina Railway, 1898-1911.” Since then, I taught at Swarthmore College and the University of Florida.

I was impressed by Randolph’s commitment to teach Asian history while many liberal arts colleges focus on American and European studies. The global studies program and Chinese language classes convinced me that Randolph is a great institution to pursue my academic goals in training global citizens with sensibilities to the people beyond their borders. During my one-year work at Swarthmore College, I also enjoyed the close contact between students and professors. It was very different from my earlier experience at large research universities where students usually come to college with predetermined academic interests and goals. In a liberal arts college, on the other hand, professors have a larger role in feeding and shaping the curiosity of the students.

The most important component of my classes is participation. I want my students to engage with the material and turn our lectures and readings into usable and functional knowledge. My classes (not seminars) usually begin with a brief lecture on the daily topic and continue with an activity. This can be a close reading and discussion of a primary source (document, original text, video clip, or photo) or a hands-on activity, such as designing an issue of a historical periodical or a poster, solving a puzzle, and role playing activities. I enjoy my classes most when there is noise and movement in the classroom.
Having worked in many different cultural and institutional settings, I can say that student diversity at Randolph is extraordinary. While I am aware that it comes with many challenges in terms of our teaching methods and efficiency, the energy I felt at the convocation ceremony reflects the dynamism and potential of this unique student body. Their boldness is the guarantee of a great learning environment.

I spend my free time with my 4-year-old daughter and my husband. We have a real sweet tooth, so I bake at least three times a week. Shopping at the farmer’s market and cooking fresh vegetables is my favorite activity on Saturdays. Literature is my passion since childhood. Not to lose my Turkish writing ability, I write pieces on Asian literature, culture, and history in my personal blog called Asyatik. I also like puzzles, but I avoid them during the semester because I cannot stop once I start.

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Chelsea Berry

Assistant Professor of History

Credentials:B.A., Brown University
Ph.D. Georgetown University
Associated Departments:History
Office:Smith 303
Phone:4349478519
Email:cberry@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

I grew up in the woods in the great state of Vermont. Since high school I’ve steadily been moving southward: first to college at Brown University in Providence, R.I., then to graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and now to Lynchburg. I’ve (mostly) adjusted to the heat with each southward move.

I came to Randolph for the chance to work closely with students in a small liberal arts college setting. I was attracted by Randolph’s commitment to enriching each student’s education and the opportunity—thanks to Randolph’s size—to really get to know everyone in my classes.

My teaching style is highly interactive. Expect lots of questions! My goal in lecture is to pull students in to our exploration of the week. I know I’ve succeeded when students are so engaged that they start asking questions of their own.

The students at Randolph have been curious, gregarious, and game to wrestle with questions in class, and my colleagues in the faculty have been very generous in helping me find my feet. I couldn’t have landed in a better place!

Despite my time in the city, I still feel the outdoors calling to me. I love to hike. Whenever I’m abroad on research, I look for trails as potential adventures (I’ve hiked Montaigne Sainte Victoire, near the French colonial archives in Aix-en-Provence, five times now). Hiking has also fed my interest in amateur photography; my office is festooned with hiking and other travel photos from New Zealand to Scotland to Brazil.

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Justina Licata

Visiting Professor of American Culture

Credentials:B.A., Wagner College
M.A., University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Associated Departments:The American Culture Program
Email:jlicata@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

As a child, my parents encouraged a love of history. My mom read books to my sister and me about famous artists, like Vincent van Gough, and significant historical figures like Harriet Tubman. Additionally, my father instilled a nostalgic love of the mid-20th century by encouraging me to listen to Elvis Presley and the Beatles and watch old sitcoms like I Love Lucy.

While my parents created this foundation, my 8th grade social studies teacher, Mrs. McLean, helped me realize that studying history was something I wanted to pursue as a career. I was in her class in the fall of 2000 when hanging chads halted the Bush v. Gore presidential election. Mrs. McLean patiently explained to us how this unusual election eventually came to an end, while reminding us that we were living through history. I am forever grateful to her for motivating me to dedicate my career to studying the past and inspiring me to be an enthusiastic teacher.

I believe classrooms are spaces where both my students learn from me, and I learn from my students. Therefore, my class periods include a lot of conversation. This is especially true when we are examining difficult histories. In these cases, I believe in giving students time and space to discuss these issues and relate them to the present. Further, I focus my larger assignments on building adaptable skills. I hope my students will leave my class with skills that can be applied in their other courses and beyond their college careers.

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Julio Rodriguez

Associate Professor of American Culture, Director of the American Culture Program

Credentials:B.A., East Stroudsburg University
M.A., Bowling Green University
Ph.D., Bowling Green University
Associated Departments:Media and Culture, Sociology, The American Culture Program
Office:Leggett 601
Phone:4349478304
Email:jrodriguez@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

Professor Rodriguez has published articles on baseball, basketball, boxing, and the performance of masculinity in sports films.

He is currently working on a book-length project examining the role of neo-conservative foreign policy in action-adventure films released during George W. Bush’s presidency.

In the summers he tirelessly, but fruitlessly, tries to break 80 on the golf course, quitting the game on a regular basis. The winter brings snowboarding and the to-date successful attempt not to break anything. Sports have always been central to his work and leisure. They instruct and inform his personal and professional search for a comprehensive understanding of the male gender.

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