April 27, 2018
Faculty Friday: Jay Roszman
By Hadrian Demaioribus
It's a "Faculty Friday" and the spotlight is on Dr. JAY ROSZMAN, who is in the middle of exciting things. As he welcomes me into his office, I ask him about the new position he just got in Ireland.
"Yeah!" he says. "So I got hired as a 19th century historian of Ireland at the University College of Cork. I’ll be teaching Irish history there! My family and I are heading out the summer and I start this fall."
Whoa! Is it intimidating, I ask, being an American and about to teach another country's history... in that country?
He laughs. "Well, I've been told that I should know more than my students will, but nevertheless, it is a little intimidating! And, of course, the university system is run differently over there.
"For instance, they don't have Gen Ed requirements. So while the history classes I’ve been teaching at CMU have had students from all different academic backgrounds, in Ireland I’ll just be teaching history students. Which will be a little different, I think.”
How did he decide to specialize in Irish history?
He thinks about it. "Well, studying abroad as an undergraduate was a hugely transformational thing for me. I went to England and one of my classes was on Irish nationalism. I went into the class thinking that Ireland was the land of Guinness and green countryside and lots of sheep. I had no idea the country was partitioned! I didn't know what Northern Ireland was.
"So after graduating, I decided to take a masters abroad in Queen's University Belfast. And Northern Ireland's a complicated place, and living there really helped me understand how what happened 400 years ago can inform what's happening today.
"And the fact that history felt alive and relevant really made me much more interested in it. And once I was bit by the bug, I went into grad school to study Irish history. I wanted to find the best professor of Irish history, and that person was at CMU and had been here since 1967, back when it was still Carnegie Tech. David Miller is one of the best practitioners of Irish History, and so I knew I wanted to study with him."
And when Dr. Roszman is not researching 19th century Ireland, what does he do in his free time?
"Right now?" he says with a big smile. "It's being a parent! I have an eight-month old daughter, so we walk around where we live and go to swings. She loves swings. But before that, my wife and I like concerts and hiking, and we do that when we have time.”
Our time is just about up, so I take the opportunity to ask him how his Gaelic is. He laughs. "Oh, terrible!" he says, smiling. "I'm brushing up to make sure I can read and pronounce Irish names correctly."
And does he think his daughter will pick up an Irish accent?
"Maybe!" he says. "And they teach Gaelic as a required language from grade school up, so we'll have to see what happens!"
We wish Dr. Roszman all the best at his new position!