Skip to main content

Profile: Dr. Jane Simonsen

jane sim9nsen

How would you describe your interest of history in a single sentence?

How about a haiku?

Without history
Life -- so meaningless, empty!
Do not be a chump.

What is your favorite historical location and why? 

There is a Protestant church in Regensburg, Germany (a historically Catholic town in Bavaria), where I've twice spent a few months, that smells like old wood and oil inside and has a tower you can climb to overlook the town.

In the churchyard are the very elaborate grave markers of various people who served as electors on the Perpetual Diet (a legislative body). They are carved with symbols of their family status and include lots of skulls. Whenever I walk under the railroad bridge in the Village of East Davenport, it reminds me of that church, and of a whole city so incredibly rich with history.

What was your favorite band growing up?

As a small child, we spent a lot of time listening to Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans' "Space Songs," from 1959. (My dad taught physics and astronomy).  I can still sing you "Zoom a Little Zoom" and "Why Does the Sun Shine?" Some of these got remade in the '90s by They Might Be Giants. But when I got my first boom-box at 11, it was Duran Duran all the way.

What is the most memorable thing that has happened to you while teaching?

At my previous institution, while I was teaching a course on the history of marriage, students chose to perform a "mock wedding" for their final exam. They went all out, with cross-dressing, an interracial couple, a wedding planner and a conscientious objector who related historical flaws in the institution of marriage. I sang Johnny Cash's "Jackson", and you won't see that again.

Certainly having students in Holden Village examine toilet seats and postcard walls as historical artifacts won't be forgotten.

What was the topic of the favorite paper that you have written?

In sixth grade, I wrote a biography of the pioneering African-American opera singer Marian Anderson. It was my first real history paper. It had a purple construction-paper cover, a plastic binder on it to signify its importance, and pencil illustrations by me. I'm sure that it was basically a summary of someone else's biography, but it introduced me to women's history and to black women's roles in civil rights, and it's still one of my favorite papers.

 

 

Examination of land use and heritage wins national award 

Dr. Lucy Burgchardt, an assistant professor of communication studies at Augustana College, has received a national award for her examination of how lands and their histories in the Southwest are considered and preserved.

Award-winning poet and activist to visit Augustana

American poet, professor and human rights activist Carolyn Forché will read poetry and from her 2019 memoir at Augustana College Oct. 1.

Frieze Lectures consider student activism, from the 60s to Greta Thunberg

The 22nd annual Frieze Lecture Series will consider the nature and impact of student activism here and around the world.

Harbour of Hope film screening

This 76-minute film is about Jewish survivors arriving from the concentration camps in Malmö, Sweden after the war. Original footage is combined with narration from the survivors themselves.

Quad Cities Archives Fair

The Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana will join libraries, archives and museums from around the area at the Quad Cities Archives Fair.