300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400
BA Gettysburg College, 2000
MA Dartmouth College, 2006
PhD University of Glasgow, 2012
History of War, Memory Studies, Cultural History, British History
Ian Isherwood is Associate Professor of War and Memory Studies at Gettysburg College. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College, Dartmouth College, and the University of Glasgow, the latter where he did his Ph.D in history at the Scottish Centre for War Studies. He specializes in the history of war. For academic year 2022-2023, Isherwood will be at the U.S. Army War College serving as the Harold K. Johnson Chair of Military History.
Isherwood is the author of the book Remembering the Great War (2017/Paperback 2020). His scholarly articles and book reviews have appeared in War and Society, First World War Studies, War, Literature and the Arts, The Journal of Military History, and War inHistory. He currently is working on two books that are under contract. The first, The Battalion: Citizen Soldiers on the Western Front, is a history of a volunteer battalion (8/Queen’s) in the Great War. The second is a book on the politics of war memory and commemoration in American history. Isherwood is a member of the International Society for First World War Studies and The Society for Military History. In 2018, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) for his contribution to historical scholarship.
Isherwood has a keen interest in digital humanities/online publishing. He is the project creator and co-lead of The First World War Letters of H.J.C. Peirs, a centennial First World War digital history project. Through this project he has taken students to France and Belgium twice for field research on First World War battlefields. He was also the creator and editor-in-chief of TheGettysburg Compiler from 2012 to 2016.
Isherwood has been teaching at Gettysburg College for over a decade. He places particular emphasis in the classroom on interdisciplinary approaches, especially when examining the subject of war. He is a believer in the value of student/faculty research and he has supervised numerous independent studies as well as four Mellon/Kolbe summer scholars. He is also committed to experiential education and has led three backpacking trips to Scotland through the GRAB program. In 2019, he was honored to be recognized as the outstanding faculty mentor of undergraduate research in the humanities.
If not in his office in Weidensall, Isherwood can be found walking his dog, Bertie, on campus.
This is a course designed to give students and understanding of the nature of war on a global scale during the nineteenth century. Students will study the history of specific conflicts – their origins and nature – but also the ways in which war changed and transformed over the course of the ‘long’ nineteenth century. The hope for this course is that students who are interested in the American Civil War can gain further appreciation of the political and military changes associated with an age marked by conflicts of state formation and imperial expansion.
Course develops students' ability to express themselves in clear, accurate, and thoughtful English prose. Offered regularly. Fulfills first-year writing requirement. Open to first-year students only.
War is a subject of fascination in our society; but it is an experience only truly understood by participants. War literature is one of the means of conveying the experiences of war to broader audiences. Writing is a way in which soldiers try to convey and contextualize their memories in print. This seminar is an opportunity for students to read and reflect upon some of the literature of modern war. In reading non-fiction and fiction recollections, by discussing the themes and contexts of war books, and through writing reflective and thoughtful papers, students will learn something of the history of modern war from the point of view of the participant. Students will learn history through literary memories and, it is hoped, will gain the methodological skills to approach literary and historical sources for analysis. For first year students, this seminar will introduce them to the methods of research writing in the humanities, through reading about war.
George Orwell was born into a world that appeared to be collapsing. European nations and once great empires were reduced to rubble through two costly world wars. Political polarization led to authoritarian dictatorships, ones that murdered millions in the name of their ideologies. The world economy became increasingly volatile; periods of boom and bust led to economic disparity and the exploitation of millions of workers across the globe. The old imperial order foundered under the weight of nationalist movements yearning for freedom. As the world grew more dangerous and disenchanted in the 1920s and 1930s, a unique and unusual voice emerged to become the chronicler of the disposed, disenchanted, and victimized. That voice was laser-focused on what he called ‘the power of facing unpleasant facts.’ In this seminar, students will learn about Orwell’s life and times as a window to understanding our own.
Good versus evil. Unlikely heroes. Impossible quests. Epic battles. Hobbits eating. The fantasy worlds of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have inspired generations of children and adults since they were penned. This seminar will examine the lives and writings of Lewis and Tolkien within the historical context of their times - the period of the two Great Wars. Students will immerse themselves in both the real and imagined worlds of these two influential writers and emerge from their quest with greater understanding of each author and their works.
Historical change in the global setting, from the ascendancy of the pre-First World War empires to the present. Topics include technological development, imperialism and decolonization, world wars, political revolutions, social and economic forces, and the reshaping of thought and the arts in the diverse cultures of humanity. Offered annually.
Survey of British history from ancient times to 1800. Includes Ireland, Scotland, and the overseas empire. Offered every other year.
Survey of British history from 1800 to the present. Includes Ireland, Scotland, and the overseas empire. Offered every other year.
One hundred years ago Europe’s Great Powers went to war. The resulting conflict forever altered the nations that fed its human destruction. This course examines the First World War’s history, cultural legacy, and memory from 1914 to the present. It does so through both traditional study of the examination of the causes, conduct, and consequences of the war, but also, investigates the Great War as a cultural experience, one that went far beyond the battlefields of Europe, its legacy deeply felt to the present day. Students will learn not only the history of the war itself, but how war’s change people, how they alter notions of identity, how their legacies develop and change over time. Through detailed study of the war’s history, cultural production, and by problematizing its lasting memory, students will understand not only the history of a conflict important in world history, but lenses for understanding war itself, that go far beyond the years 1914-1918. Offered every other year.
Course introduces majors to the techniques of historical investigation, considers the nature of history, and examines the relation of history to other fields of study. Prerequisite: Two courses in history. Offered annually.
This course introduces students to the study of warfare from an interdisciplinary context. Students will approach the subject of war through five distinct perspectives: the philosophy of war; the history of war; the experience of war; war, culture, and society; and the memory of war. The overall goal of the class for students to develop a sophisticated approach to the study of war through an interdisciplinary way of analyzing conflicts both in the past, but also, in our present. By the end of the semester, students will endeavor to answer the following questions: what is war; how does war affect participants/victims; how do societies remember war?
This is a course on war stories. It is based on a simple concept: that war has long been a muse for writers, artists, and filmmakers and that representations of war have a lasting cultural legacy. War stories profoundly influence our understanding of violence. They create myths – important social and political narratives on the past – that help us understand and justify violence in history. In this course, students will read a broad sampling of war literature and study thematically corresponding war films to learn how to conceptualize and contextualize war stories. More broadly, students will also learn how war stories are constructed as sources of memory and how they, in turn, become powerful memorial expressions for veterans, ones that influence the way that societies interpret violence over time.
This is a course that will examine, primarily, two conflicts in modern history and their lasting representations in cultural history and literary memory. Wars have long cultural legacies. Both the American Civil War and First World War changed not only the ‘war generation’ of each conflict, but also, demonstrate case studies of the representation of war and the polemics of memory within nation states. In this class students will engage with the cultural and military histories of two different conflicts and compare their lasting impact in our contemporary perception of war and society. As such, the ‘experience of war’ will be our broad topic of consideration. We will access this theme by examining memory sources that detail and represent these experiences over time. The class’s methodological themes will address the following: conceptions of victory and defeat, the memory of participants and their representations of war, the writing of history and the mythologies created by conflicts and their chroniclers. By studying the cultural history of combat and its aftermath, students will learn something about the way history is written and historical events depicted over time. Through interdisciplinary representations of war in film and literature, it is hoped that students will gain an understanding of the changing perceptions of wars, within the conception of modern memory.