February’s Professor of the Month

Featured Professor – Elizabeth Horodowich, Department of History lizH

I have been at NMSU for 12 years and am originally from Philadelphia – I love cheesesteaks! My field of study is the history of Renaissance Italy, especially Venice. Right now, I am finishing two books, both of which are about the way that people who lived in Renaissance Italy understood the discovery of America. Italians didn’t go to the New World in huge numbers like the Spanish, French, and English–they never had colonies there–but fascinatingly, they printed more texts about the Discovery of America than any other people at the time, so it’s interesting to see how a people that rarely went to America perceived this foreign, newly discovered, fourth continent. I was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers in January of 2015 and this will allow me to finish these books during my sabbatical next year.
I have taught Honors 222G, The Foundations of Western Civilization (a course on Greek and Latin literature, including Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Virgil) ever since I started working at NMSU. This is maybe my favorite course out of all the courses I teach at NMSU, since the poetry of Homer and the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides never get old. You can read them over and over again, your whole life, and always see new things… and they always make you laugh. These were serious poets and historians, but…they are also very funny! Reading them teaches you a lot about the nature and workings of power, the relationship between freedom and responsibility, the ways in which men and women interact, and the meaning of life and death itself. They are incredible texts. Outside of teaching, I like to be athletic…to run, swim, and do yoga in particular (there is great yoga at NMSU right now, better than ever!). I am a ski fanatic; I just got back from skiing at Purgatory in Durango, and would love to ski at a new place in the West every winter. And like many people, I love to cook…..vegetarian cooking in particular. They go together, since you need to be active if you want to eat a lot….
My favorite quote right now is from Galileo, who teaches us so much about being intellectually curious. In his 1615 letter to Christina, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and the mother of his patron, Cosimo II de’ Medici, Galileo wrote that “No one…should close the road to free philosophizing about mundane and physical things, as if everything had already been discovered and revealed with certainty. Nor should it be considered rash not to be satisfied with those opinions which have become common. No one should be scorned…for not holding to the opinions which happen to please other people best, especially concerning problems which have been debated among the greatest philosophers for thousands of years.” Galileo reminds us to be hungry for knowledge, and that if you are creative, you can always see or find something new, even among topics or subjects that have been studied for thousands of years.
My favorite thing about the Honors College is that the students are smart, and very hard working. You can ask them to do something difficult, and they will always try. And the faculty are all incredibly passionate about the subjects they teach. When preparing for the future, I would advise students to always listen to your instincts and follow what you feel passionately about. While it’s good to combine your natural interests with something practical, it’s so important to love what you do, since we spend so much of our lives at work. I would recommend the Honors program to students because the small size of honors classes allows students to speak more in class on a day to day basis then they might in larger classes. While it might sound surprising, you learn more, and in a different way, when you have to articulate your ideas verbally. It’s a completely different mental and intellectual exercise than reading or writing, and it’s so important to practice!

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