History Department
History Department

Penne Restad named to The Alcalde magazine's list of best and most inspiring professors

Mon, March 11, 2013
Penne Restad named to The Alcalde magazine's list of best and most inspiring professors
Prof. Penne Restad; by Photo by Matt Wright-Steel

There are some teachers you just don’t forget. Nominated by alumni, these professors are among the best and most inspiring on the Forty Acres. Meet this year's Texas 10.

Penne Restad

Distinguished Senior Lecturer, History

A tough fourth-grade assignment sparked Penne Restad’s interest in history.

Restad and her classmates were tasked with memorizing the Gettysburg Address.

“Every one of us failed,” laughs Restad, PhD ’93, a distinguished senior lecturer of history. “I can still recite the Gettysburg Address, and I look back on that as the first time I was interested in the past.”

Today, Restad focuses her research on the formation of American cultural identities and behaviors, particularly at the intersection of gift and money economies of the late 19th century.

“One of the things that intrigues me most about history is the way in which it interacts with the present,” Restad says. “It is both fixed and gone, yet we find new things each time we look at it.”

It’s in introductory history surveys that Restad experiences her greatest challenge. “We all come in with certain preconceived notions about history,” Restad says. “I’ve had classes in the spring that are 50 percent graduating seniors, the majority of whom are business majors, engineers, and natural sciences. I try to get them past the idea that this is just a class they need to graduate.”

Restad tries to show her students how disciplines can relate in unexpected ways. “We can get to the Cold War, and I may have one of my science students explain the difference between fusion and fission,” she says. “As historians, we try and see where science and economics connect with American social histories.”

Written by Jack McBee
Photo by Matt Wright-Steel

Originally posted on The Alcalde

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