AHA Today

AHA Member Spotlight: Rick L. Woten

Matthew Keough | Jun 30, 2016

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, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Rick L. Woten is a non-tenure track assistant professor at Simpson College. He lives in Iowa and has been a member since 2009.

Woten_picTwitter handle: @rickwoten

Alma matersBS (double major: urban forestry & history), Iowa State University, 2003; MA (history), Iowa State University, 2005; PhD (history), Iowa State University, 2009

Fields of interest19th century United States, legal, environmental, agricultural and rural, Midwestern, transportation, historiography, historical preservation.

When did you first develop an interest in history?
I spent many Sunday afternoons as a youth eavesdropping on my grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles as they sat around kitchen tables drinking coffee and retelling tales of their lives and community. They fostered my passions and interests every summer by leaving no stone unturned in an effort to explore historical landmarks, both near and far.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on finalizing publication of a manuscript, Forging the Way Upriver in Iowa: The Des Moines River Improvement Project and Lands Grant, that focuses on the dynamic relations and authority structures during the state of Iowa’s formative years through the mechanism of a river improvement project and land grant. It echoes the themes of contingency, authority, political development, and state formation.

I am also developing a digital history project that explores the growth of a Midwestern (US) competitive cycling circuit in the late 19th century and identifies the numerous locations used for local, regional, and national events. It echoes the themes of technology, transportation, regionalism, consumerism, sanctioning authority/political development, amateurism/professionalism, and discrimination, among others. It is my intention that the digital history project will also culminate with the publication of a manuscript, The Outlaw Wheelmen: Sport, Athlete, Celebrity, and Union in American Cycling’s Golden Age.

Have your interests evolved since graduation?  If so, how?
Absolutely. I still find I am drawn to themes of technology, transportation, political development, and the 19th century. However, I more recently gravitate toward the end of the 19th century and have a much greater interest in the convergence of research, information dissemination, and historical preservation in the digital age.

What do you value most about the history profession?
I value the opportunity it provides to introduce and cultivate within my students and community the desire for historical inquiry, develop critical thinking skills, and the application of those facets to contextualize and engage their society.

Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA?
I have continued my membership with the AHA due to the great diversity of membership and the opportunity it presents to draw from and engage with historians with such wide-ranging expertise and interests.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?
I am an avid outdoor enthusiast, fly-fishing addict, and former bicycle racer.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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