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New Department Chair

Dr. Melissa Franklin Harkrider

The History department welcomes the appointment of Dr. Melissa Franklin Harkrider as Chair.

Dr. Melissa Franklin HarkriderIn her seventeen years of service to Wheaton, Dr. Harkrider has taught students in a variety of classes. She teaches CORE 101 First Year Seminar and CORE 312 Native Chicago in the Christ at the Core Curriculum. Her courses in the history department range from HIST 102 New Worlds for All: Africans, Indians, and Europeans in the Atlantic World to HIST 346 Renaissance Europe, HIST 377 British History to 1660, and HIST 391 Reformation Europe.

In her classes, she encourages students to cultivate historical thinking through detailed lectures, the analysis of primary and secondary sources, and rigorous discussion. Her excellence in the classroom was formally recognized with the Junior Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching and Scholarship at Wheaton College (2007). In their evaluations, her colleagues and students praise her deep commitment and love for her students and Christ-centered liberal arts education.

Dr. Harkrider’s areas of expertise include early modern Europe, religious history, and women’s history. Her 2008 book, Women, Reform, and Community in Early Modern England: Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and Lincolnshire’s Godly Aristocracy 1519-1580, examines how an aristocratic woman and her friends and family responded to religious change. She has also published essays and book reviews in several journals including Christian Scholars Review, Journal of British Studies, and Journal for North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies.

Recently, study of the Atlantic world has encouraged her to learn more about Native American responses to Christianity. Her current project is entitled “ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ (Du-yu-dv-i) Living the Right Way:—the Gospel and Cherokee Hymnody in Early Nineteenth Century America.” It draws on the work of Native American theologians and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to understand how language and culture shape Cherokee belief and religious practices in colonial North America. It utilizes a range of English and Cherokee texts, including diaries, letters and hymns, to understand how their native language and culture shaped their response to the Gospel.

Dr. Harkrider has also supervised nineteen independent studies and multiple student honors theses on early modern European history, American religious history, and women’s history. Her service to the college community has included work on the General Education Review Committee, Academic Policies, and Faculty Council. She has served on numerous search committees and on the ten year review team for various college departments.

She is grateful for the support of her colleagues and students and looks forward to serving them as chair of the department.