AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today will, beginning today, feature a regular “AHA Member Spotlight” series. Members featured in the first few posts of this series were randomly selected and contacted by AHA staff, but future posts will be based on nominations. Would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight? Contact Nike Nivar for more information.
AHA Member Spotlight
Joseph F. Patrouch is a professor of history and classics at the University of Alberta and director of the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies. Patrouch first joined the AHA in 1989.
1. Alma mater/s: BA: Boston University; MA and PhD: University of California, Berkeley
2. Fields of interest: early modern Europe, Habsburg Dynasty, material culture, folklore
3. When did you first develop an interest in history?
As a child: I grew up in a household piled with books (my father is a retired English literature professor) and talk of the past was common there (my mother had and has a keen interest in family history). I had a grandmother who took her grandchildren on walks in the Ohio countryside and asked us to imagine how things used to be.
4. What projects are you working on currently?
A lot of my time is spent administering an interdisciplinary research and cultural institute at the University of Alberta. This institute, the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, concentrates on the study of seven different countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. I am currently working on bibliographical and historiographical projects dealing with the early modern history of the Habsburg Dynasty and have recently started a new monograph project which concentrates on the imagined spaces of the Holy Roman Empire in the later sixteenth century.
5. What books or articles are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the biography of the Austrian violinist Fritz Kreissler after having read his memoirs of his experiences in World War I and have also started the war memoirs of the Austrian submarine commander Georg von Trapp. (He was an Austro-Hungarian nobleman who is probably better known as the patriarch of the large family singing group featured in the musical and movie The Sound of Music.)
6. What do you value most about the history profession?
The variety of topics, approaches, and themes with which historians deal. Even though we can study topics centuries and continents apart, there is something about the appeal of the past which brings us all together.
7. Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote?
I met my wife at an AHA annual meeting in NYC! We chatted in the hotel hallway outside of an interview suite while I waited to be interviewed for my first academic position.
8. Any final thoughts?
After two decades as a professional historian in the US, I am enjoying the opportunity to become acquainted with the academic scene in Canada. It seems to me that the ties between the historical professions in the two countries could be closer than I think they are (or at least than I experienced them!). It was rather a strange feeling to see my name listed for the first time this year in the annual meeting program in the “Scholars from Other Countries Index”!
Editor’s Note: Are you an AHA member? Would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight? Contact Nike Nivar for more information.