AHA Member Spotlight: Nicole Lopez-Jantzen

Matthew Keough | Mar 5, 2020

Nicole Lopez-Jantzen is an assistant professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She lives in Jackson Heights, New York, and has been a member since 2009.

Alma maters: BA, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004; MA, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2005; PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2011

Website: https://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/faculty/nicole-lopez-jantzen

Nicole Lopez-Jantzen

Twitter: @LopezJantzen 

Alma maters: BA, University of Maryland, College Park, 2002; MA, Fordham University, 2005; PhD, Fordham University, 2012

Fields of interest: late antique, medieval, material culture, Italy

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

When I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2002, I knew that my history degree had prepared me well for several types of careers, but it was the middle of the recession and I was just focused on getting a job while trying to figure out my next steps. After some temp work, I ended up working first as a receptionist and then a legal assistant at a small law firm. I am grateful for that opportunity, because although I remain interested in law as a research topic, it helped me realize that being a lawyer was not the correct path for me. While still working at the firm, I took a class as a non-matriculated student at Fordham, and then began an MA there in medieval history, because I was thinking about doing a PhD but was still unsure. I worked full time, first at the law firm and then as an SAT teacher at Kaplan, during my MA, and then received a fellowship to continued at Fordham for my PhD. 

From 2009-12, I lived in Italy while researching and writing my dissertation. During that time I had the opportunity to work on archaeological digs in Ravenna and Supersano, and work with amazing colleagues in archaeology. One of the key tenets in archaeology in Italy is relevance to the community, which has informed my historical practice. After returning to the US, I adjuncted at Fordham, John Jay College, and Drew University for a year before getting a tenure-track position at Queensborough Community College. In 2017, I began a tenure-track position at Borough of Manhattan Community College. At BMCC, I have been the co-chair for Women's HerStory Month for the past two years, and teach a large number of students, including history and education majors, so I feel that my work reaches a large audience. Students have brought family members and friends to museum trips and involve their larger communities as well, which is great. Finally, I have been involved with Medievalists of Color for the past few years, and have worked to make medieval studies more inclusive and equitable.

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

There is always something new to experience in New York City. There are so many different neighborhoods with delicious cuisines. I am also an avid runner, and I enjoy running in New York. BMCC is right next to the Hudson River, which is a great place for a run, or to sit and have lunch if the weather is nice.

What projects are you currently working on?

I just published an article on race in the early Middle Ages, and am working on an article about women in royal Lombard ideology.

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

In some ways they have circled back to earlier interests. While in graduate school I took classes on gender and sexuality that focused mainly on modern history, and wrote a paper on race and colonization in the Middle Ages. However, I did not pursue these interests while writing my dissertation, which focused on Lombard royal ideology. I am still working on ideology and identity, but now I am thinking more about the role of gender, sexuality, and race in the construction and maintenance of early medieval ideologies and identities.

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

An eighth-century epitaph of an abbess, written by her successor.

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

Ibram Kendi's book, Stamped from the Beginning

What do you value most about the history discipline?

That is fosters critical thinking and challenges simplistic narratives.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?

The AHA's advocacy for history education and the importance of history is important to me, as is the community it fosters.


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.


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