History major reflects on poverty, religion, grapes

History major reflects on poverty, religion, grapes

By: Nathan Geiser

The Record interviewed Nathan Geiser, a senior history major beginning work on a final thesis. He is lactose intolerant. 

How do you prepare to write your thesis on a typical day?

Twenty-five push-ups, Avril Lavigne, coffee, living life with nuance.

Educators in the United States sometimes treat the Western experience as normative. How has Goshen’s global outlook affected your studies?

I took History of Global Poverty with Professor Jan Shetler. Poverty can be fixed with the silver bullets of genetic modification and cash crop exports. In the Global South is the “gift economy.” A gift economy is based on Christmas and it’s sort of like presents all the time. That’s what I learned from Jan.

How do you see your role as a challenger of mainstream Western beliefs?

We learn to ask the questions no one asks. For example, if history was a fruit or vegetable what would it be? History would be a Concord grape. But you wouldn’t know if no one asked the question.

What do grapes have to do with primary sources or historical context?

I’d like to quote Professor John D. Roth. He is director of the Mennonite Historical Library and editor of the Mennonite Quarterly Review. John tells us that “history is typically dark blue or purple, and is a key ingredient in juice and Welch’s jam products.”

That’s confusing.

Professor Roth says that when we have a Ph.D. in Early Modern European History like he does, we will understand.

Why don’t we try a different subject. As a history major at a Christian college, what have you learned about religious history?

An eye for an eye is the early church.

That doesn’t sound right. Have you actually paid attention in any of your classes?

Yes. But, sometimes when I’m hungry I confuse lectures with food, or confuse lectures with Avril Lavigne lyrics. As Steve Nolt likes to say, “He was a skater boy, she said see you later boy.”

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