Courtney (Hoge) Brown, '66
My name is Courtney (Hoge) Brown, and I was a member of the Class of 1966 and a history major at Vassar. My strongest memories of the history department are two. The first concerns James Bruce Ross, who taught History 104 in 1962. I did not go to a private school, nor did I ever read "the sources." My history classes in Leavenworth, Kansas were taught from textbooks, most of which were neither interesting nor challenging. When I took that course during my first semester, I was stunned to realize that it was definitely going to be challenging and that I was expected to read source material and participate in class discussions. I couldn't believe that Professor Ross would be at all interested in my interpretation of source material relating to ancient Greek history, even if I could understand it, which I could not. It was a definite indication that the lazy days of textbook reading and regurgitation were over. My second memory is of taking classes on the French Revolution and Modern German History from Evelyn Clark. What a privilege! Again, I was surprised that Ms. Clark actually cared what I thought. I well remember speaking with her about William Shirer's book on Hitler, and it was certainly an "ah ha" moment when she pointed out that there was no way in which Mr. Shirer could have known precisely what was going on in Der Fuehrer's head. I had never learned to read critically, and she made sure that I did. She was the finest professor I have ever experienced, and I took classes from Barbara Jordan at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Absent my classes with Professor Clark, I doubt I would have made it through graduate school. Writing a thesis was not so intimidating after I wrote one for her scrutiny.
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