Keeping the focus on our KATH Member-in-the-Spotlight, this time we present 2012-13 KATH Board Member, Angela Ash, who represents Kentucky Community & Technical Colleges. (See past KATH Spotlight articles by clicking here.)
Current school and alma mater/s: Assistant Professor of History at Owensboro Community and Technical College; MA 2005 University of Louisville; BA 2003 Brescia University; AA Owensboro Community College
Fields of interest: English Reformation, French Revolution, 19th Century Europe, World War I, Jewish History, Military History.
When did you first develop an interest in history? I remember as a child, my mother bringing home books on the Holocaust and World War II from her bookstore, and my father’s deep interest in the American Civil War also made a lasting impression. I carried this with me through high school, where my favorite courses were World Civilizations and American History, in the US Navy, where our RDC’s would quiz us on American Naval History, and then in college, where I had amazing History professors like Dr. Marc Maltby for American History at Owensboro Community College, and Dr. Frances Brown for European History at Brescia University. I knew then, as a college student, that I wanted to devote my life to the study of history, and emulate my professors to the best of my ability with the hopes of connecting with students in the same way.
How have your interests changed since graduate school? In graduate school, my focus was researching the dimensions of the English Reformation, particularly the dissolution of monasteries and the overall impact. However, after a few years of teaching, reading and researching independently, I have transferred that same passion to military and diplomatic history; 19th century Europe and World War I have been my objects of study for the past few years. I also have spent much of the time since graduate school improving my teaching – finding ways to make history relevant and exciting to students.
What projects are you working on currently? My current projects include preparing a Constitution Day presentation for my campus on the European roots of the American system of government, participation in a panel discussion and local documentary on the European front in World War II sponsored by the Daviess County Public Library, and recruiting students to sign up for a 2014 summer study course I plan to teach with a colleague, involving a trip to the Czech Republic, Austria, and Poland.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc., that you could recommend to fellow KATH members? One of my favorite books is a classic – Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War, and my favorite documentary is the PBS masterpiece “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.”
What do you value most about the history profession? I value the time I get to spend with the students, and the opportunity I have to help them understand the human story and how it relates to them. To me, it is a huge responsibility, and every class session is a chance to make the past matter in a culture where what happened “before me” is not necessarily valued.
Other than history, what are you passionate about? My eight year old daughter Gracie tops that list, but I also love to travel when possible, watch old films, study languages (when I can), and listen to music, though my taste is quite eclectic.
Any final thoughts? I have a favorite quote from Plato that I sometimes share with students – “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which is rather grim, but drives home an important point about past and present conflict.