The Department of History at Clayton State University offers a number of concentrations, such as Southern Studies, World Cultures, and Public History. These concentrations prepare students for advance work and research in those respective fields.
At the graduate level, Clayton State has a concentration in History in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program. This master’s degree program strives to encourage students to “gain insights into the relationships between disciplines, ideas, and historical developments” and to “grow their awareness of cultural tendencies.” In addition, three faculty members from the History Department who teach in the MALS program,. Dr. Christopher Ward, Dr. Marko Maunula, and Dr. Adam Tate, have all recently published historical books and journal articles that highlight their individual interests.
Ward, a specialist in Russian history, has been an associate professor of History at Clayton State for the past six years. He values the importance of professional writing, saying, “I write all the time for my job. They are kind of one and the same. I tell my students frequently that it’s not just history professors that need to write — it’s everyone. Writing is critical.”
Ward’s attention to the value of writing is one of the many reasons his historical Russian book, “Brezhnev’s Folly,” was so well received by Russian and historical critics. “Brezhnev’s Folly” is a historical account of the Soviet Union’s attempt to build a new railway system through Siberia and to open new routes for trade and commerce between the Soviet and East Asia. However, 10 years into the project, with completion nowhere in sight, the negative impacts of the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway (BAM) began to show. Ward’s “Brezhnev’s Folly” emphasizes the struggles of the BAM workers and how they dealt with the failed project, the negative environmental impacts, and the government propaganda. The Soviets, realizing the project was verging on disaster, attempted to convince the workers and the general public that the project could still be a success.
“‘Brezhnev’s Folly’ contrasts myth versus reality,” says Ward. “The government devoted a lot of time to propaganda.”
Highlighting the role of foreigners, women, and young people in the building of BAM, “Brezhnev’s Folly” is a true historical account of the Soviet government’s attempt, and ultimate failure, in trying to expand trade options.
Ward was recently named editor-in-chief of “The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review,” a historical and social journal published in both English and Russian. He is also working on a new project titled “Sibaral,” which follows the attempts to reverse the flow of the rivers in Siberia from south to north, directing the flow from the Baltic Sea to the Siberian desert in order to help irrigate Central Asia. Even though “Sibaral” is only in the beginning stages of research, it is bound to be an insightful look into Siberia, its rivers, and the social and cultural impact of reversing the river’s flows.
Maunula’s interests are in Southern history, which led to his writing of the book, “Guten Tag, Ya’ll.” With a new edition arriving in October 2010, “Guten Tag, Ya’ll” is a historical account of Spartanburg, S.C., and its role as a Southern economic hub for global trade and industry. Spartanburg was a small town that in the 1960’s, that, with the help of local Chamber of Commerce boss Dick Tukey, decided to open its proverbial doors to foreign trade and global business. In doing so, Spartanburg became famous for its ability to draw foreign investment and business, without losing sight of its fundamental character and economic traditions. Spartanburg’s unique cultural make up and diverse population are rare for a Southern, conservative, blue-collar town. However, its business model has been one that offered the town and its citizens great success.
Maunula believes that his job as an associate History professor serves to strengthen his writing career.
“Being an historian consists of being a reader, a speaker, and a writer,” he says. “In a classroom, you get constant and immediate feedback from the students. In academic forums, such as publication and conferences, you get scholarly feedback that all help you to sharpen your writing and thinking.”
Continuing to delve further into Southern history, Maunula is currently working on a book about Southern pastors from the 1910’s to the 1940’s, and how they addressed the economic changes in their sermons.
Tate has been an associate professor in History at Clayton State University for six years. He also heads up the Clayton State Honors Program. Aside from his book, “Conservatism and Southern Intellectuals, 1789-1861: Liberty, Tradition, and The Good Society” which was published in 2005, Tate has published numerous articles.
His article, “Confronting Abolitionism: Bishop John England, American Catholicism, and Slavery” was published in the September 2009 issue of “The Journal of the Historical Society.” In this article, he explores the roles that religion, specifically Catholicism, and Southern politics, played in forming John England’s view on slavery, abolitionism, and the function of religion in government.
Tate has been studying the cultural and social influence of religion and politics in Southern history since he was an undergraduate. His interest has also led to the publication of “John Adams, John Taylor of Caroline, and the Debate about Republican Government” in the book “History on Proper Principles: Essays in Honor of Forrest McDonald” published in 2010. This article follows the political careers and correspondence of Adams and Taylor. Although usually expressing opposing political viewpoints, Adams and Taylor experienced a unique communication and sharing of ideas.
Tate is currently working on a book about Catholics in South Carolina, expanding some of his earlier discussions to not only include slavery, but politics and society in general. Tate says he enjoys teaching at Clayton State because it offers him a chance to develop and teach courses that relate to his interests. Currently he is working with two MALS students who chose to research Southern History for their thesis projects.
Ward, Maunula and Tate are all teaching graduate level history courses during the fall 2010 semester. For more information on the classes offered at Clayton State and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies concentration in History, please visit http://a-s.clayton.edu/mals/. You may also wish to visit the School of Graduate Studies website at http://graduate.clayton.edu/ for information about the other graduate degree programs currently offered.