Jr. Faculty Focus: Jason Freitag
Jason Freitag began teaching in the Department of History in 2003, and became an assistant professor after receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia in 2006. His research looks at the colonial encounter between Britain and India in the 19th century.
What do you enjoy most about Ithaca College students?
I really enjoy that IC students are not afraid to take on challenging materials and issues and work through them carefully and closely. I also enjoy their creativity—I have had students write plays and make photo essays, films, and animated videos as part of their coursework, and that energy really comes through in the classroom as well.
How do you approach teaching history in the classroom?
I work to show students how to critically analyze a text or historical situation so that they can clearly communicate the substance of the issue and understand the context and significance as well. We are, after all, dealing with many of the same issues now that people have dealt with throughout time, but in a totally different way. I try to make sure students can make those connections to that past, while seeing the distinctiveness of their worlds as well.
Tell us about a research project you are working on.
I recently collected archival material related to an Indian princess named Krishna Kumari, who lived in the early 19th century and was at the center of a marriage struggle among three princely states. To settle the strife and restore peace, she was killed. In some Indian histories she has been remembered as a heroine, but in British histories, she is seen as a victim. I am using these materials to develop a series of classroom units, comparing the images of women in Indian and European colonial histories to spur debate and discussion about the ways women are represented historically and cross-culturally. I see this as a wonderful and valuable way to bring my professional research directly into the classroom.