PrintShareE-Mail This Page

Catherine Denial

Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in History

Catherine Denial

General Interests
"My research focuses on marriage in Minnesota before 1850, particularly as a means of understanding gender, sexuality, race and nation-building in the region. Marriages of all kinds, and the households that marriages created, were inextricably bound up with questions of nation and identity for the Dakota, the Ojibwe, mixed-heritage individuals, and Americans who interacted in the Upper Midwest. Through the stories of married - and divorcing - men and women in the region, we can trace the uneven fortunes of American expansion in the early nineteenth century, and the nation-shaping power of marital acts.

It's a concurrent interest of mine to find creative ways to train and support K-12 teachers who are social science educators. From 2001 to 2012 I was the Lead Historian for Bringing History Home in Iowa, where I worked with teachers to help them create dynamic curriculums based on primary source research. Funded by federal Teaching American History grants totally more than $3 million dollars, Bringing History Home served over 900 teachers across Iowa, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, and Wyoming. We conservatively estimate that 45,000 elementary school children and 15,000 middle and high school students passed through our program, demonstrating a statistically significant improvement in their historical thinking skills as a result."

Years at Knox: 2005 to present

Ph.D., History, 2005, University of Iowa.
MA, History, 1996, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
B.A., (Hons), American Studies, 1994, University of Nottingham.

Teaching Interests
American Indian History, Women and Gender in North America, Sexuality and Marital Law.

Full Curriculum Vitae - (DOC)

Selected Professional Accomplishments

Course Development Funding, the Knight Endowment for Religious Studies, Knox College.
Research Funding from the College Faculty Career Enhancement Grant, awarded to Knox College by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Council of Independent Colleges / Gilder Lehrman American History Seminar participant, New York University, June 24-30, 2007.
Seashore Dissertation Fellow, University of Iowa, 2004-2005.
Newberry Library/Centers for Institutional Cooperation Research Fellow, 2003-2004.

Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, forthcoming August 2013.

Review of Saliha Belmessous, ed., Native Claims: Indigenous Law Against Empire, 1500-1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, The Historian, forthcoming, 2013.

"Atoms, Honeycombs, and Fabric Scraps: Rethinking Timelines in the Undergraduate Classroom," The History Teacher, 46.3 (May 2013): 415-434.

Review of Mary Butler Renville, A Thrilling Narrative of Indian Captivity: Dispatches from the Dakota War. Edited by Carrie Reber Zeman and Kathryn Zabelle, Derounian-Stodola. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012, Minnesota History, 63.5 (Spring 2013): 213.

Review of Colette A. Hyman, Dakota Women's Work: Creativity, Culture, and Exile. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012  The Annals of Iowa, 71.4 (Fall 2012): 357-358.

Review of James Joseph Buss, Winning the West with Words: Language and Conquest in the Lower Great Lakes. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2011, Western Historical Quarterly 43.4 (Autumn 2012): 383-384.

Review of Mary Lethert Wingerd, North Country: The Making of Minnesota. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010, American Indian Culture and Research Journal 36.1 (2012): 213-216.

Review of Carl J. Ekberg, Stealing Indian Women: Native Slavery in the Illinois Country. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2007, The Annals of Iowa 70.1 (Winter 2011): 67-69.

"Pelagie Farribault's Island: Property, Kinship, and the Contested Meaning of Marriage in Dakota Country, Fort Snelling, 1820-1838," Minnesota History 62.2 (Summer 2010): 48-59.

"Ethics for Historians: The Perspective of One Undergraduate Class." Perspectives on History. January 2010.

Keynote Address: "Thinking Like a Historian: 'Bringing History Home' in the K-16 Classroom." Eastern Illinois University History and Social Studies Teachers Conference, October 34, 2013.

"More Questions Than Answers: The Strange Case of Margaret McCoy's 1840 Divorce." The 2013 Burkhardt Lecture, Knox College, April 26, 2013.

"How Do Historians Do Their Jobs?" Workshop, Class Day 2013, Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg, Illinois, February 23, 2013.

"'Am I a Woman that I Should Hoe Corn?': Marriage as Imperialism, Marriage as Resistance: Dakota Country, 1835-45," A World of Citizens: Women, History, and the Vision of Linda K. Kerber," Oct. 5-6, 2012, Iowa City, Iowa.

"SOCC it to 'em: Teaching Historical Thinking Skills in High School and College," Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, April 18-22, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"Course Design for Historians," Workshop for Graduate History Instructors, University of Iowa, Department of History, April 14, 2012.

"Catherine Denial" at the Humanities Storycorps Project, University of Iowa, February 2012.

"Teaching College-Level History," Workshop for Graduate History Instructors, University of Iowa, Department of History, August 18, 2011.

"Strategies for Teaching History at the Undergraduate Level." Presentation at Graduate History Instructor Workshop, University of Iowa, Department of History, August 19, 2010.

"The Digital Early Republic," Roundtable Panelist, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting, July 22-25, 2010, Rochester, New York.

"Life after Schaeffer Hall." Roundable panelist, University of Iowa, Department of History, May 10, 2010, Iowa City, Iowa.

Panel Commenter, The May Brodbeck Symposium: New Voices in Women's and Gender History, May 9, 2010, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

"To Calm the Sterner Passions of Man: Women, Politics, and the History of Marriage in the United States." Women's History Month Guest Speaker, Carl Sandburg Community College, March 18, 2010, Galesburg, Illinois.

"Exhibiting History: Making the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Come Alive." Professional Development Workshop for Teachers (with Knox students Erin Souza and Margaret Spiegel), Conference on Illinois History, October 1-2, 2009, Springfield, Illinois.

"Pelagie Farribault's Island: Property, Kinship, and the Contested Meaning of Marriage in Dakota Country, Fort Snelling, 1820-1838." Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting, July 16-19, 2009, Springfield, Illinois.

Panel Chair and Commenter: Minnesota in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. The State We're In: Creative and Critical Approaches to Minnesota History at 150, May 28-30, 2008, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Campus & Community Involvement
Executive Committee of the College, 2013-2016.
Academic Standing Committee, 2012-2013.
Cultural Events Committee, 2012.
Observer to the Board of Trustees, 2011-2013.
Ford Fellowship Committee, 2010-2013.
Curriculum Committee, 2007-2010.

What Students Say
"Catherine Denial is not just a professor; she is a friend to many students and yet she maintains respect and discipline in her classes. She focuses on the forgotten aspects and people of history and finds ways to make the most dull events exciting."
-Sara Patterson, Chemistry and History double major

"I couldn't ask for more from a professor and advisor. Catherine continually provides her students with new perspectives on history, and she is committed to her students' success both inside and outside of the classroom."
-Erin Souza, History major

Apply Now

Upcoming Events