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00:00:00 - Beginning of interview 00:00:01 - Introductions

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we are underway. Today is the 16th of December, 2022.

Segment Synopsis: Doney introduces Alfred Kelly and explains his relation to George L. Mosse, working with him on his dissertation.

Keywords: George Mosse; PhD; UW-Madison

00:00:32 - Kelly's upbringing and schooling

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Partial Transcript: We’re going to start really at the very beginning. I wondered if you could talk a little bit about where you were born...

Segment Synopsis: To start this interview, Kelly talks about his parents and his childhood. His parents met as history graduate students, his dad being a professor and his mom being a teacher later in life. His parents were activists. They never moved from Detroit, meaning he was sent outside of the city for school, at a private school. His household was very academic, encouraging readings over television. His early interest in reading sparked his interest in maps and geography. Kelly was a scandalous kid, given the time period. His neighborhood was majority black, but his school was almost all white students.

Keywords: Academic; Activist; Baby boomers; Black; Books; Geography; History; Latin; Student; TV; White

00:11:45 - Early career interests

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Partial Transcript: So you talked about your mom influencing your, at least, facility in Latin.

Segment Synopsis: Doney asks Kelly if any part of his upbringing inspired him to study history at the college level. In high school, Kelly was most passionate about reading. He had a fantasy about being an English professor, which inspired him to read at a rapid speed. History was not that appealing to him in high school. He remarks that he was a late bloomer, maybe even a smart aleck to some of his high school teachers.

Keywords: English; History; Late bloomer; Novels; Professor; Teachers

00:15:09 - Continuing his education after high school

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Partial Transcript: Well let’s talk about, then, how you wind up getting interested in history.

Segment Synopsis: When Kelly was looking at colleges, it was a much different process than it is now. Recruiters would often visit the school, but none of them really stood out to him. A good amount of his family went to the University of Chicago so he knew for sure he would apply there. He was not interested in history at first, as the first two years of general education classes were fairly rigorous. These classes did show him that he did not want to be an English professor, as critiques and writing were very narrowly tailored. He became interested in history as you could right about whatever you wanted, it could be critiqued, and it would be useful to the field as a whole. Being a professor also seemed appealing to him, so he switched to history.

Keywords: Broad; College; Criticism; General education; History; Humanities; Machine; Professor; Recruiter; UChicago; Useful

00:25:50 - His interest in history and time abroad

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Partial Transcript: So let’s talk, so we’re still at the University of Chicago, you're now going into your junior year...

Segment Synopsis: Kelly discusses the requirements for history majors at the University of Chicago, starting mostly in his junior and senior year. He focused mostly in recent modern history of Europe, specifically France, and the US. He took a variety of upper level courses and did a thesis, showing the rigor of the university. He remembers his courses well, including a seminar on the Enlightenment and cultural history. This made his focus shift to modern European history, with a focus on Germany. This inspiration also came from Kelly's time spent in Germany with his father. They travelled all over Europe, helping him understand German and some other languages.

Keywords: Chicago; Enlightenment; French; German; History; Major; Modern; Travel

00:36:55 - Deciding to go to UW-Madison for graduate school

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Partial Transcript: Okay. German topics. You’re now, you’ve completed the two senior theses and examinations...

Segment Synopsis: Kelly discusses his decision to attend UW-Madison for graduate school. He had applied to both Madison and Columbia, but was advised to go to Madison where he would stand out more. He got into Mosse's seminar, but did not meet him until second semester. He interacted with many Madison standouts including Georges Haupt and Sterling Fisherman. His seminar was difficult because there was a language barrier. Kelly did well in his first year, but did not really know what he was doing.

Keywords: Columbia; Domenico Sella; English; French; Georges Haupt; German; Seminar; Sterling Fishman; UW-Madison

00:42:39 - His master's thesis and working with Mosse

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Partial Transcript: So, when Mosse returns, then, for the spring semester, do you have an MA topic in mind?

Segment Synopsis: When Mosse returns for spring semester, Kelly and Mosse begin working on a master's thesis. Kelly didn't have an idea of a topic, so Mosse persuaded him to write a thesis on the historian, Karl Alexander von Muller. He is a forgotten figure in most of history, but was a professor who became an apologist for Nazism. He saw Hitler's talents early on, especially his persuasion skills. After his thesis was completed, even though Kelly saw it as not very remarkable, he was ready to complete his preliminary examinations.

Keywords: Communist; Hitler; Karl Alexander von Muller; MA; Military; Mosse; Nazism; Spring; Thesis

00:46:01 - Teaching as a graduate assistant

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, I do want to ask about prelims, but I also want to ask about whether you were teaching in these early years.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about his time as a graduate assistant. He TA's in an early modern European survey course. He liked interacting with the students, but he hated grading papers. Teaching evaluations were not as widespread back then, so he didn't know how his students felt. As a whole though, he enjoyed it. The money was the main thing, as it paid very well. Kelly also received Ford Foundation money. As a whole, he did not struggle with finances while he was a student.

Keywords: Cohort; Evaluation; Grant; Pay; TA; Teaching; Tuition

00:49:35 - Preliminary examinations

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk about, then, the preliminary examinations. Which fields did you take with which faculty, and how did it go?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly shares that he took his preliminary on four fields of history. This came from Mosse, nineteenth and twentieth center European cultural history, Hamerow's German history, Goldberg's European social history, and Gargan's French history course. He studied previous questions to prepare for the examination. Most professors repeated very similar questions so it was easy to prepare. Once he was ready, he spent eight hours at the history office completing the exams, twelve essays in total. He passed all four of them, one with honors. George even agreed that the exams were difficult and it was quite hard to pass.

Keywords: Culture; Essays; European; Examinations; Fields; France; Gargan; German; Goldberg; Hamerow; History; Honors; Mosse; Pass; Preliminary

00:56:05 - His relationships with other professors

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Partial Transcript: That’s interesting. What was it like working with Hamerow and with these other big personalities?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly did not work directly with Goldberg, although he attended his lectures and various campus events. He had a similar relationship as it did not work closely with Hamerow. He was a big personality, like Goldberg, but they had very different lecturing styles. They both really knew there stuff and had different values.

Keywords: Dissertation; Goldberg; Hamerow; History; Lecture

00:58:26 - Choosing an approach to his thesis and working with Mosse

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Partial Transcript: All right. So you've encountered a lot of different approaches at this point and you’ve passed your preliminary exams...

Segment Synopsis: Kelly begins talking about their approach as they both did not discuss much of the methodology of this level of research. His project started with discussing bad culture. He did a great deal of research and read all the bad books. Kelly read a lot from Karl May and Thomas Mann. George directed Alfred to travel to Gottingen to study cultural revolutions there. It was a pretty small town and he later had trouble finding a place to live. This caused Kelly to travel to Munich to look into a different project, a German author who discusses sexuality, Wilhelm Bolsche. He was able to gather a lot of material from the museum. Kelly and Mosse met there sometimes and had a lot of shared jokes.

Keywords: Approach; Cultural; Cultural movement; George; Gottingen; Methodology; Mosse; Munich; Political; Pop culture; Relationship; Subway

01:10:36 - His time in Madison and working on his dissertation

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Partial Transcript: Anyway, I came back to Madison and found myself another apartment on North Pinckney Street, the end of the street there.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly now moves back to Madison and starts working on putting all the information together. He found an apartment in Madison. It took him much longer than he expected it to. George did not interfere much with the dissertation process. Mosse mostly discussed his shoebox approach, as he collected enough notes for a shoebox and started writing after that. This turned into a big joke between Kelly and Mosse. Most of the feedback that Kelly got prior to the defense of his dissertation was positive, making him a little less nervous for the defense.

Keywords: Defense; Dissertation; Madison; Notecards; Shoebox; Trouble

01:16:20 - His experience as a student at UW-Madison in the 1970s

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Partial Transcript: Well, I want to take just one step back, because one thing we haven’t talked about is life in Madison generally.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly shares more about the relationships he held while in undergrad. He notes that he was not a very social person, but discusses his roommate Peter Gordy, some who left his cohort, and Laurie Baron, who did stick it out to the end. The atmosphere of Madison was encapsulated by the New Left, which staged a lot of protests. Kelly was not often involved, as they often descended into property destruction and violence. Their messaging was often unclear as well. Events were also common on campus, from concerts to lectures. Kelly discusses how they brought a famous scholar to campus, who did not know how to lecture. George was a great lecturer though, encouraging participation.

Keywords: Campus; Experience; Lecturer; Madison; March; People; Protest; Relationships; Seminar; Speaker; Town

01:31:28 - His thoughts on Mosse's lecturing style

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Partial Transcript: Do you think that sense of provocation is what drew students to the classes, though?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly shares that Mosse completely wrote out his lectures, but did not rely on them. He could be fairly provocative, ironic, and entertainment. Mosse dismissed the popular notion of the will of the people and agreed with some older thinkers, like Freud and Sorel. Mosse also had a personal connection to a lot of the history he taught, which made it very interesting to students. This combination made his lectures very entertaining to students.

Keywords: Entertainment; Lecture; People; Progressive; Provocation; Style

01:34:33 - Dissertation defense and the road to Hamilton

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Partial Transcript: So, resuming the chronological track, you have successfully defended your dissertation.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly successfully defended his dissertation at UW-Madison and then began looking for full-time opportunities. There was not a lot of availability on the job market, so he actually started off as a cab driver. He had a one-year position at Virginia Commonwealth University. He then took a temporary position at the University of Richmond, which also did not turn into a full time role. Kelly took a bit of time off in between and then gained a role at Shimer College, taking a massive pay cut. This is when he applied for the role at Hamilton, which he gained. This position was only for 2 years, but someone left so he was able to gain tenure fairly early on and become their Edgar B. Graves Professor of History.

Keywords: Cab; Dissertation; Hamilton; History; Interview; Professor; Prospects; Rich; Shimer College; Tenure; University of Richmond; Virginia Commonwealth University

01:45:58 - Teaching modern European history

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Partial Transcript: And you wound up, you were brought in to teach the modern sections of European history.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly remarks on his time teaching early modern European history. He worked with a French and women's history expert, named Esther Kanipe. He also worked with various English and Russian historians. Kelly especially respected a woman by the name of Mackenzie Cooley, who would have a very distinguished career.

Keywords: European; Europeanist; History; Modern

01:47:58 - Publishing and changing interests throughout his career

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Partial Transcript: I wondered if you could just walk through your major publications and the questions that have guided them.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly reviews that his dissertation was on Wilhelm Bolsche. He expanded his research on Bolsche to include other revolutionary thinkers in evolutionary thought. He found Darwinism infiltrating Marxism and socialism. This project led to his new piece of work, which looked at workers' memoirs and their approach to socialism. He took their memoirs in excerpts and added footnotes, hoping to make this work more accessible to students. That is what he is really known for. His next project was inspired by George, who inspired him to read the "bad books." Kelly examined pieces during the Franco-Prussian war and translated them for mass use. While balancing teaching and research, he did not write as much as he intended to.

Keywords: Bolsche; E-book; Evolution; French; Germany; Interests; Memoir; Publications; Questions; Research; Socialism; Teaching; Thought

02:00:42 - Teaching at Hamilton College

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Partial Transcript: Well, I have one, I have two more questions for you. The first is about teaching.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly shares that he finished his career at Hamilton. The institution only continued to improve while he was there, recruiting better students, becoming more inclusive, and larger scale. He does remark that students now do not have as good as a vocabulary as they used to. Kelly believes his most notable impact came from teaching students headed for the military, as he helped humanize them. His teaching philosophy was always to not bore the students, which kept his legacy pretty positive.

Keywords: Bore; Career; Humanistic; Influence; Pedagogy; Shifts; Students; Teaching

02:06:09 - Final remarks

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Partial Transcript: The last question I have for you is just, is there anything we didn’t get to talk about?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly wraps up some of the things previously discussed in his interview. He was always very prepared. He is thankful to his parents and George, as they helped him become historians. His sense of history did not change much and he would not change anything about his career. He taught at a small, student-centered college and cared less about publication. This was different than Mosse and Kelly was ok with that. Doney and Kelly share multiple stories, from Mosse's time coming to understand his identity to the way he held his seminars. He had his own sense of "limitations and ridiculousness."

Keywords: European; Geroge; History; Identity; Mosse; Philosophy; Prepared; Small college; Speer; Taxes

02:15:34 - End of interview