James Bidwell, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
(508) 849-3267
Office: Trinity West 118
Doctor of Philosophy, Modern European History, Boston College
Master of Arts, Modern European History, Boston College
Bachelor of Arts, History, Summa Cum Laude, University of Maine

I am a European historian specializing in nineteenth and twentieth-century European history. I received my Ph.D. from Boston College in May 2003. My research interests focus on the connection between public education and the development of regional identities in German-speaking central Europe between 1800 and 1870. My dissertation, entitled In the Service of the State: The Bavarian Volksschul and Nation Building, 1800-1870, examines the establishment and subsequent operation of the Bavarian public school system and explores the ways in which schooling was used to help secure the legitimacy and stability of the post-Napoleonic Bavarian state between 1800 and 1871.

When students have completed one of my classes, I have one overarching goal in mind-I want them to be able to view the world differently. In particularly I want them to be able to think historically. That does not mean that I want my students to become professional historians, but it does mean that I want my students to become critical thinkers who understand the historical foundations of our society and are able to analyze the roots of present issues that occupy our contemporary world. Thinking historically requires that we understand how the past lives with us in the present. When we do this, we recognize that the past is not some distant shore or foreign land. Rather we realize the integrity between past and present. By teaching this way I hope that my students will learn that the past, like the present was lived in contingency and that outcomes were never as certain as histories often depict them. By showing the messiness of the past and the roles that individuals of all social ranks have played in constructing that past, my hope is for students to realize their own roles in shaping our present.

The history that I teach can certainly seem foreign and remote to students- medieval, early modern and modern European history and environmental history¬- but this exposure to the past helps to discipline then to think historically and develop and put their critical thinking skills to use.

Courses Taught at Anna Maria:
Honors Senior Capstone Seminar
Famine, Floods and Microorganisms: Global Ecological Challenges in the 21st Century
20th Century European History
19th Century Europe
World War II: The World Aflame
Discovering Western Cultural Traditions through the Humanities III (1350-1800)
Post-Columbian Environmental History
Western Civilization II
Western Civilization I
New England: Global Destination, Global Influence
History of American Environmentalism

Research Interests:
Modern German History, Modern European History, Early Modern European History, North American Environmental History, Global Environmental History, Western History World History

Bidwell, J. (2012). "An Experiment in the Humanities: Transforming a Small New England College around a Humanities Core." SUNY Buffalo Romance Studies Journal: Humanities at the Limit.

Bidwell, J. (2010). "'Revolution from Above' "Enlightened Bureaucrats and Bavarian Public Schools: The Wismayr Plan of 1804"." New England Historical Association Fall Conference, University of New England.

Bidwell, J. (2010). "Public School Reform and the Bavarian Kulturkampf: The Rise of the Bavarian Patriot Party as the Culmination of Conservative Identity Politics 1825-1870." American Historical Association Annual Conference.