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Rosenbaum
Rosenbaum’s dissertation was also awarded Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize by the Friends of the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D.C. The prize is conferred upon the two best doctoral dissertations on German history submitted at any North American university, making the pool of work considerably larger.


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Rosenbaum reaps respectable rewards

Adam Rosenbaum grew up in Norfolk, Va. and didn’t leave the area until he was 17, when he became an exchange student in Germany. The year he spent there encouraged an abiding interest in German culture. Thirteen years later, he earned his PhD in modern German history from Atlanta’s Emory University and became an assistant professor of history at CMU. His doctoral dissertation, which focused on tourism in Bavaria between 1800 and 1939, won two prestigious awards last fall.

The first award, the Parker-Schmitt Dissertation Prize, is awarded to biannually by the European History Section of the Southern Historical Association to the best doctoral dissertation on European history submitted at a southern university.

Rosenbaum’s dissertation was also awarded Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize by the Friends of the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D.C. The prize is conferred upon the two best doctoral dissertations on German history submitted at any North American university, making the pool of work considerably larger.

The GHI invited Rosenbaum and his co-winner to D.C. to present a short synopsis of their awards and meet other historians in the field. His parents and Emory advisor attended his presentation. The institute will also publish an expanded version of his presentation next month in its spring bulletin, and Cambridge University Press has expressed interest in publishing a book manuscript based on his dissertation.

“The Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize has opened many doors for me to say the least,” Rosenbaum said.

The dissertation consists of four parts, each centered around a case study of a different tourist attraction during a specific period of time. For Rosenbaum, the marketing materials, which he calls “tourist propaganda”, were the most intriguing part of the industry.

“Those printed materials helped to develop notions of nature, national identity, regional identity and, connected to those issues, the history of the German people. In articulating it to visitors, they’re constructing narratives about larger conceptual identity,” he said.

Constructing larger themes from smaller cultural phenomenon is part of why history appeals to Rosenbaum. As an undergrad at Virginia Wesleyan College, he saw history as a kind of catch-all for the subjects he enjoyed.

“I was really interested in a variety of liberal arts topics– art history, philosophy, religious studies,” Rosenbaum said. “I think I ended up with history because it was a way to talk about all of those things. Political science, religion, sociology, philosophy, art history, film studies . . . You get it all with history.”

He tries to instill the same attitude in his students at CMU. At Emory, he participated in an intensive, year-long course that prepared him for teaching his passion.

“I always said that I wanted to end up at a school where I could teach, because as much as I’ve enjoyed traveling in Germany and researching and writing, I think that teaching is so much more immediately rewarding,” said Rosenbaum.

“It sounds sort of cliche, but I hear very nice things on evaluations, like ‘You’ve demonstrated that history doesn’t always suck, it’s not always boring, it’s not always some monotone lecture.’ It’s a really worthwhile way to spend my time, I think. CMU makes you teach a lot. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really worthwhile work.”

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