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Jones Professor Experiencing Culture Shock

Thursday, April 04, 2002

By Alison Caviness '03

SPARTANBURG, SC--Dr. Lucy Riall has enjoyed having a little bit of culture shock.

The Lewis P. Jones History Professor who is spending this semester at Wofford has found Wofford to be a stress-free place to teach and study, as compared to Birkbeck College at University of London, where she is a senior lecturer.

“Wofford is an extremely relaxed and friendly place that is combined with a seriousness about what people are doing,” Riall said. “There is a sense of community here, partly because it is small, and partly because of the college’s history. In London, everything is busier, and there is more activity and stress because there are so many people in such a small place."

History department chair Philip Racine met Riall at the Anglo-American Conference at the University College in London, where Riall delivered a paper on land and power in 19th-century Southern Italy. This semester, Riall is teaching a course on 19th century Italian and German nationalism. In order to interact with more students than those just in her class, Riall also gave a lecture entitled “Italy and Identity: Myths and Symbols in the Making of a Nation,” which was open to all Wofford students.

“Professor Riall's students here at Wofford find her engaging, very approachable and brilliant,” Racine said.

Riall had three main reasons for choosing to spend a semester at Wofford. The first is that she needed some time away from London in order to finish a book, do new readings and complete more research. Secondly, Riall is interested in exploring the archive on revolutionary and military leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, which is located at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Finally, Riall wanted the opportunity to have a new teaching experience and to see a part of the United States that she had not seen before.

“It’s easy to get stuck in the routine of going to the office, teaching the same things and researching at the same place,” Riall said. “I wanted to shake myself up a bit. And, I think the southern United States has some similarities to southern Italy, which I study.”

Riall received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Political Sociology, Government and History at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and she received her doctorate in History at Cambridge University. In addition to having written more than a dozen scholarly articles, she has written books on Italian Nationalism in the 19th century and edited a book entitled "Napoleon's Legacy: Problems of Government in Restoration Europe." In April, Riall will be giving seminars at Columbia University and Princeton University on “The Myth of Garibaldi.”

"Wofford College is lucky to have as its Jones professor a young European scholar of Prof. Riall's teaching and intellectual achievements. She is an inspiration to her students who have found her to be amiable and intellectually stimulating," Racine said.
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Alison Caviness '03 is a Wofford English major.