Publication Date

February 22, 2024

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


  • Europe
  • World

Kathryn Brammall is a professor and chair of history at Truman State University and the managing editor of the Sixteenth Century Journal. She lives in Columbia, Missouri, and has been a member since 1996.

Kathryn Brammall

Kathryn Brammall

Alma mater/s: BA (spec), University of Alberta, 1987; MA, University of Alberta, 1990; PhD, Dalhousie University, 1996

Fields of interest: early modern, women/gender, world, historiography

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I grew up and attended university in Canada, but ended up as chair of a department in a small liberal arts college in northeast Missouri because of unique experiences in graduate school. In 1995 an ad was posted by then Northeast Missouri State University looking for someone with a doctoral degree in early modern studies and experience as a managing editor. It turns out that I was one of two people (possibly in the world) with both qualifications, and the other was retiring from the position I inherited. After arriving at Truman I joined an incredibly supportive group of colleagues who appreciated the quality of the Sixteenth Century Journal and the recognition it brought to our small university. I have served these wonderful colleagues as chair now for the last decade.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

As is true of much of the US in the current political climate, the place I live is not always comfortable for me, but Columbia, Missouri, is a relatively progressive haven in a challenging environment. As for Truman State University, its mission is to serve as Missouri’s liberal arts university and, as such, we value inclusion, interdisciplinarity, exploration, and student-centered learning in our curriculum that models my pedagogical goals and approach. In addition, I love my colleagues and students; both are incredibly talented and help me keep learning.

What projects are you currently working on?

I will shortly retire as managing editor of the Sixteenth Century Journal and am starting a project with Dr. Gary Gibbs. We are serving as editors for the early modern volume of Bloomsbury’s Cultural History of Historiography. I am also planning to engage in my research on notions of abnormality and deformity (the rhetoric of monstrosity) in early modern England much more vigorously; it has been in relative abeyance for far too long and I miss the archives.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

Yes. I am now much more interested in placing British and European history into a global context. Teaching world history to undergraduates for 25 years has convinced me that being mindful of all the interconnections (especially in the modern world) is the only way we can build a clearer picture of the past. I am even more determined to identify and highlight voices that have too often been hidden in past narratives.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?

A drawing of a dead, boiled cat.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

The long-running podcast The History of English by Kevin Stroud is fascinating. If you have not read it already I recommend John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History. It is a good read, useful for students, and helped me think afresh about what we as historians do.

What do you value most about the history discipline?

It’s flexibility. We can and should study anything and everything. There is nothing that does not deserve the historian’s scrutiny and all research topics are enriched by our methods of investigation. In addition, our research is often enriched by the work of scholars from other disciplines and we welcome that (or if we do not we should). Obviously there have been less-than-stellar histories written, but the very best of us are willing to acknowledge our mistakes and move forward in the effort to create a clearer picture of the past. In doing so, those of us who also teach are quite literally modeling the adaptability and love of life-long learning that is so important for our students’ future success.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?

It is incredibly important for historians to communicate a strong, reasoned voice on global, national, and state issues especially now and the AHA has the ability to do that. In addition, the work on the Tuning project and the Why Study History materials for undergraduates have been especially valuable to me as a chair, teacher, and recruiter.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?

I know that I have enjoyed many excellent panels and workshops at the annual meeting, but my most vivid memory is actually of the massive snow storm that happened right at the end of the 1996 meeting in Atlanta. All the flights coming from the east coast were delayed by hours if not cancelled, but I was going to Toronto so after a short delay we took off. It was magical.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.