Not Your Everyday News

Sunday, October 01, 2006

history and JMU

Had a super surprise visit last night at the restaurant. My fave professor,
mentor, and thesis advisor from my grad school days at JMU came to
visit me. She was showing a friend of hers, visiting from New York, the
sites around this part of Virginia, and naturally had to bring her to the
restaurant too! I will call my friend Dr. Battaglia; while her real last
name is far from Italian, she is of Italian descent. (Bologna is where her
father is from, a city in central/north Italy, known for its lasagna, ravioli,
and tortellini - YUM!) Dr. Battaglia has always been the first person I
have turned to for advice, references, letters of recommendation for
resumes and applications, and other matters related to history (that
was my area of study and what I taught for almost 7 years - Modern
European and American). She is also the only person I am still in
contact with from my JMU years. Dr. Battaglia's area of speciality is
Russian History; she even travelled there and speaks the language.
I guess you might say that I have been always drawn to folks who love
Russian history. My absolute fave professor from my undergrad days,
while specializing in Middle East history, also had a keen interest in
the Russians and taught some wonderful, intense courses in Russian
history. He liked to say that during the communist years, people were
"volunteered" to carry out missions and those who refused were
"committed" suicide! Gotta love it when it's put that way! Then Dr.
Battaglia would say that while the Russians were wonderful, artistic
people, their politics and politicians were shady (uumm, yeah), and
untrustworthy (for real). I guess you just have to love a country that
produced the Czars - for example, Catherine the Great, who at first
had her husband Paul tossed into a looney bin so she could take over
as Czar, and then had a couple of her boyfriends kill him just to
remove any chance he could get out and come back to power! Then
the last Czar, Nicholas II, who entrusted major decisions to Rasputin
- that crazy monk who claimed he could cure the Czar's son of
hemophilia! It took about 6-7 attempts for members of the Czar's
outer circle to finally kill Rasputin, poisoning, drowning, strangling
didn't do it, sounds kind of like the Terminator! Gosh, and then we
wonder why the revolution occurred in Russia, instead of a Western
European nation such as England, France, or Germany?!? (where
Marx had predicted the revolution would first occur). The Russians
were always 1 step forward, 10 back....just sad, as they are a very
talented people, extremely artistic, and have a hoard of natural
resources, but you can trust them about as far as you can throw them
politically speaking. Well, back to Dr. Battaglia, she is just a very
special person, and if any of y'all are thinking about taking a history
class at JMU, post a comment to me with your e-mail address and I
will send you her real name so you can try to take a class with her,
you'll love it. She's tough but very fair and she just adores all history,
but has a soft spot for those crazy Russians! Some Stoly anyone?


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