History encompasses much more than the study of dates, places and events.
Just ask Mark Micale ‘77, an associate professor of history at the University of Illinois and a specialist in the history of science and medicine.
His liberal arts experience at WC provided a strong foundation for Micale’s future studies.
“Getting a strong, broad, humanistic education, at a time when more and more institutions of higher learning were (and are) emphasizing narrow, vocational approaches, or training purely in technical or scientific fields, was a tremendous experience for me,” he said.
Micale earned a master’s degree from Yale University in 1980 and was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1984-1987 before receiving his doctoral degree from Yale in 1987.
“WC, and my particular faculty advisors, encouraged me to range widely in my college courses. So, I didn’t just study modern European history, but I also took inspiring courses on subjects such as Renaissance art, Romantic poetry, nineteenth-century American literature, and Existentialism. I also attended many poetry readings and classical-music concerts. The result is that in my graduate education at Yale, and then during my professional career, I was able to study, teach and publish on a wide variety of cultural topics,” he said.
Throughout his career in academia, Micale earned a reputation not only as a talented researcher and historian, but as an excellent professor. At Yale, where he launched his teaching career, he was awarded a Yale Prize Teaching Fellowship. The University of Illinois has twice recognized him for excellence in teaching.
His success in the classroom stems in part from watching his own undergraduate professors.
“The faculty creatively fostered my developing interests, guided me as I wrote papers and a senior thesis in these fields, directed me toward the best programs in the country for graduate training,” he said. “They were deeply dedicated to instructing individual students and they had mastered the art of delivering lectures that were extremely clear, informative, and engaging.”
Micale, considered a pioneer in the field of the history of medicine and gender studies, has published numerous books and articles on the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. His latest book,Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness (Harvard University Press, 2008), examines the intertwined histories of masculinity and psychological medicine from the time of the Renaissance to Freud.
“It is not just English majors who are expected to cultivate excellent writing abilities in Chestertown,” Micale said. “This ingrained belief has served me extremely well later, particularly given that my chosen discipline of study—history—values highly good narrative and analytical prose writing.”
In 2007, in recognition of his contributions to the canon of modern psychiatry, Washington College awarded Mark Micale the honorary degree, doctor of letters.