Ellen Kittell, Interim History Chair
Ellen Kittell, professor of history in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, has been appointed interim chair for the department while current chair Sean Quinlan spends the semester in Rome and Naples, Italy, on a Fulbright Award. Quinlan is conducting research for a new book project, titled “Science and Visions of Social Reform in Southern Italy in the Eighteenth Century.”
Kittell, who served as interim chair during the spring 2016 semester, will run the History Department’s honors program, maintain departmental priorities and prepare for summer history classes.
“The History Department is a small, but dynamic unit. We all wear a number of hats, but that is why we are so proud of our contributions to UI,” Kittell said. “From environmental history to pre-modern European history, to our methods courses and research, we provide context to some of the tough situations that are happening around the world right now.”
Kittell believes her work and that of her colleagues is more important — and relevant — now than ever before.
“I have an expertise in English constitutional and legal history,” she said. “When we take a look at the 12th century, there were constant feuds and conflicts. In some ways, they were very similar to tribal conflicts that are erupting right now in the Middle East, gang warfare being waged on city streets in the US, and roiling political unrest in Europe.”
“As we face climate change, water shortages and political uncertainty, we naturally seek a sense of stability. History teaches us that progress happens when relationships are regularized; peace can only be made certain when opposing factions sit down and make agreements.”
Quinlan will return to Moscow in time for commencement in May.