AHA Member Spotlight: Louise McReynolds

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 features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series

Louise McReynolds is a professor of Russian history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently lives in Chapel Hill and has been a member of the AHA since 1984.Louise 1

Current school and Alma mater/s: I have a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University, a master’s from Indiana University, and a PhD from the University of Chicago. I taught for 20 years at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and then moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Fields of interest: Russia; popular culture, especially film history; the 19th century everywhere.

When did you first develop an interest in history?

I can’t say that I “developed” an interest. It was always there. I had a job in marketing research, which I enjoyed, but decided I would enjoy even more being a history professor, so I decided to switch gears to see how it would work out. I wanted the opportunity to live in Russia.

What projects are you working on currently?

I have recently begun to follow the development of archaeology into a scientific profession in the 19th century. I have always been fascinated with excavations, of which there was a wide variety in imperial Russia. My larger objective is to connect archaeological digs with notions of empire.

Have your interests changed since graduate school? If so, how?

Honestly, no. I still even follow the same sports teams.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

I am a fan of Not Even Past, a multifarious history-oriented website that includes blogs and podcasts, run by Joan Neuberger at the University of Texas at Austin. She pulls in such a wide variety of topics and people that I can enjoy learning something new every time I “blog on.”

Why did you join the AHA?

Because I wanted to stay in contact with the profession, and to follow whatever is trending. I can’t imagine not being a member.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?

I think that we all remember the ones at which we interviewed for jobs the best, if not necessarily the happiest time at the convention.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?

I love competitive sports, as a fan now rather than a participant, from Tar Heels basketball to the upcoming World Cup. To paraphrase NFL commissioner Bert Bell, “On any given day, any team can beat any other team.”

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