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Mark S. Schantz

Mark S. Schantz

Professor of History

Mark S. SchantzOffice:

Berte Humanities Building 325

Contact Information:

Box 549031
Birmingham-Southern College
900 Arkadelphia Rd
Birmingham, AL 35254
Office Phone: (205) 226-4857
Office Fax: (205) 226-3089

Brief Career Background:

A native of Washington, D. C., Dr. Mark S. Schantz received his B. A. with honors and distinction from The George Washington University, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.  He earned a Master’s of Divinity degree from Yale University and Ph. D. in American History from Emory University.  He taught for 18 years at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, before coming to Birmingham-Southern College in 2009 to serve as Provost.  He is now happily back in the classroom teaching a variety of courses for the History Department, the Harrison Honors Program, Leadership Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Educational Background:

B.A. The George Washington University, 1977. Phi Beta Kappa.
M. Div. Yale University, 1981.
Ph.D. in History, Emory University, 1991

Areas of Academic Interest:

Dr. Schantz’s areas of interest in American history are diverse and growing.  Trained as an historian of 19th century U. S. social, cultural, and labor history, he has also developed a particular interest in African-American history and Africana Studies, in how films (particularly mainstream dramas) shape public perceptions of history, and in the history of American medicine and attitudes toward death and dying.  He is also increasingly interested in American music history in general and in the music of Bob Dylan in particular.

Among his publications are the books Piety in Providence:  The Class Dimensions of Religious Experience in Antebellum Rhode Island (Cornell University, 2000) and Awaiting the Heavenly Country:  The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death (Cornell University, 2008), which was reviewed in The New Yorker and in The New York Review of Books.  In 2012, he relished his fifteen minutes of mass media fame by serving as a consultant and on-screen talking head for Ric Burns’ documentary film “Death and the Civil War” for the PBS American Experience series.  He was also invited to contribute an essay, “Death and the Gettysburg Address” for Sean Conant, ed., The Gettysburg Address:  Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech (Oxford University, 2015.) His third book project, in progress, is an investigation of the 1863 murder of a white Union Army officer who was engaged in recruiting Black soldiers in occupied Norfolk, Virginia, during the American Civil War.

Outside of teaching, advising, and writing, Dr. Schantz loves playing the guitar and continues to perform and to write music.  He digs his current gig as the guitar accompanist for The Birmingham Suzuki Violinists.  He also teaches an Exploration Term on Bob Dylan (Nobel Laureate) which involves daily sing-a-longs (as well as lots of reading and listening).  When he’s not listening to Bob Dylan or playing the guitar, Dr. Schantz enjoys pretending to work-out at the gym, not getting any older, spending time with his family, walking, cooking eggs properly (according to Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School cookbook), and travelling to places like Greece and Spain.

Courses Taught:

HI 204-CI, The History of Birmingham:  An investigation of the history of Birmingham, Alabama, from 1871 to the present, with special attention to economic, political, social, and cultural developments as well as the Civil Rights movement.  As part of this course, students research important sites and locations throughout the city and make “History Workshop” presentations to the class.

HI-222, Why We Should Care About the Puritans:  A reconsideration of the founding and development of Puritan New England with close attention to the first century, 1630-1730.  The explores particularly the dilemmas of Puritan theology, social ethics, the construction of gender, the Salem witchcraft trials, the contested and often violent relationship between the Puritans and Native Peoples, and the endurance of the “Puritan Ethic” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Amazingly enough, the Puritans turn out to be less boring than you thought.

HI-400, Senior Seminar:  The senior capstone seminar, in which students write a major research paper on a topic of their choice with the consent of their advisor and the department.  Students will present their research in a senior conference.  Dr. Schantz loves working with students on their research projects.

HON 233-ES, W. E. B. Du Bois and American History:  An introduction to the life and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois.  Students will cover essential facts about Du Bois’s life and work and be able to situate his arguments and their significance in the broader currents of American history.

HON 303, The History of Death in America:  An interdisciplinary investigation of the history of death in America from the colonial period to the present.  The course examines and evaluates, particularly, the claim that America is a “death-denying” culture.  This course may prove especially valuable for students planning on entering medical school or other related health-care professions.

IDS-115, ES:  History & Film:  An investigation of films and historical topics that explores the differences between how history is presented on film and it is presented in more traditional, written sources.  While the course has focused on the director Oliver Stone in past iterations, in the future it will shift its focus to take in a wider array of historical films.

LS 200:  Leadership Studies:  Theory and Practice:  An introduction to the academic study of leadership from both theoretical and practical perspectives.  Not limited to students in the Leadership Studies program.  Dr. Schantz’s version of this course has, in the past, focused on the leadership of Frederick Douglass as a case study.