Student Spotlight June 2016

James Rooney

James RooneyJames graduated from UofL in 2014 with a major in history, and a minor in English. He is now completing his Master of Arts degree in history.

Interview:

1. Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):

The primary focus of my research is post-World War II Germany. I am examining German broadcasting in the first decade following the war. My master’s project is a study of Hamburg’s Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk from 1945 to 1955. I argue that the restructuring of German radio and mass media during this time period – something emphasized by both Germans and the Allied occupants – established a democratic German public sphere. By the end of the decade, the German public had a solid foundation from which to begin critically analyzing their recent past and how to go about their nation’s progression into the future. I was initially drawn to this period by the progressive and experimental rock groups coming out of Germany in the 1960s and 1970s- like Amon Düül II, Can, Faust, and Neu. I wanted to understand the conditions of this generation’s upbringing that led to such a fertile period of creativity.

2. What made you go into this field of study?

A love of experimental music actually drew me toward history. I wanted to understand how the cultural values of a period impacted the creative output of the individual. Once further invested in my studies, it turned out I really enjoyed the process of combing through sources – sometimes hundreds of years old and in numerous languages – and piecing together a narrative for a larger audience. Also, it’s not too often that you get to listen to your favorite records all day and attempt to make a career out of it.

3. Awards, honors, publications:

University of Louisville, History Department Research Grant, Summer 2015, trip to Staatsarchiv Hamburg for thesis research.
University of Louisville, College of Arts and Sciences Internal Research Grant, Summer 2015, trip to Staatsarchiv Hamburg for thesis research.
“Teutonic Turks: German Imperial Manipulation on the Eve of World War I.” Best Graduate Paper, Phi Alpha Theta History Paper Contest, University of Louisville, April 2015.

4. Long term goals/ aspirations:

Ultimately, I am planning on pursuing my doctorate degree to become a professor of European history. I am hoping to write books on German and transnational history in the second half of the twentieth century. I would also love the opportunity to work and research at some sort of cultural institution - museums, galleries, libraries, etc.

5. What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

In June/July of 2015 I was awarded funding to go to Hamburg and do archival research in the state archives. This opportunity was my first trip to Europe. In addition to the time spent in the archives, I was able to travel across Germany by myself, meet great people, and take away some incredible experiences.


Fun Facts
A talent you have always wanted: The ability to make a perfect Hollandaise sauce.
Favorite book: Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America or W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.
Role Model:It may sound cheesy, but, my thesis advisor- Dr. Mark Blum. In addition to being one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, Dr. Blum has a passion for his work and has made a career doing what he loves. He has been an incredible influence on my own academic progression since I first took his survey course on German history. He met Richard Brautigan once in San Francisco too, which is just really cool.
Favorite Vacation Destination: Pacific Northwest
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Country guitar player on the Nashville circuit.