History department hosts book symposium
The UH Department of History held a symposium in honor of Todd Romero’s first book, “Making War and Minting Christians: Masculinity, Religion, and Colonialism in Early New England,” last Thursday, which marked a new milestone for both Romero and the UH History department.
The book poses a different understanding of 17th century New England, focusing primarily on the evolution of gender roles and how they were defined by the culture of the era.
“It was a process of experimentation,” Romero said. “I wanted to write this book so that it would be accessible by a broader readership. That was something I really struggled with; I wanted to write something that was analytically sophisticated, but wasn’t laden with jargon.”
This project was in progress for over seven years. Romero said that his fascination with colonialism started graduate school, when he was drawn by the strangeness of the period.
After Romero finished his doctoral studies at Boston College, he used his dissertation as the core of the book. Romero said that in the process of writing the book, he had to skew away from the jargon driven mentality he developed in grad school.
“You learn how to write your first book, hopefully, doing more things right than wrong,” Romero said.
“I always think of my ideal reader as my mom and dad, two people who I think are very smart, educated readers, but aren’t specialists (in colonialism), the kind of readers that would look at a whole slew of jargon and see it as obscuring rather than highlighting the topic.”
Ann Marie Plane, an associate professor at the University of Southern California-Santa Barbara, and Ann Little, an associate professor at Colorado State University, were present to comment on Romero’s book.
Both were astounded by the event and praised the History department for their work in promoting Romero’s book.
“This is a really unique event,” Plane said. ‘I’ve never heard of a department doing something like this. It’s very impressive and fun. I can only imagine how rewarding it is. ”
Little mirrored Plane’s statements and claimed that she would use Romero’s book in her undergrad course.
“When I told my colleagues why I’d be missing my Thursday class, they marveled at the appreciation for faculty research here,” Little said. “ All my colleagues are insanely jealous, this kind of book celebration is truly unheard of anywhere else.”
Little and Plane praised Romero’s attention to detail, use of primary sources and overall content.
Romero has described the feedback as positive. Comments from his family, who have supported Ramero throughout the process, have been especially encouraging.
“When you sit down and write a book, you spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to you,” Ramero said. “From the feedback I’ve received, it has made me feel really good about the project and I’m excited to move on to what’s next.”