Dr. Sheridan

Spring 2016's Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Dr. Sheridan. Many of you may have had her for a survey course but if you can take an upper level history course with her, it'll be worth your time. She teaches a variety of interesting courses from the French Revolution to 1960's America and Europe to History of Gender, Sexuality and the Body. She makes her students expand their understanding of the past and even enjoy learning. 

What got you interested history?

"I liked history when I was younger but if you were to ask me if I was going to be a historian when I was younger, it never would have occurred to me. What really got me interested in history, was when I was in college I was a zoology major. I really liked life sciences, especially, I was not so crazy about chemistry and all that. But I loved biology and the life sciences and then I was in the lab a lot and I realized what I was interested in was not so much being a scientist but understanding how scientific thought developed. And that’s how I started getting interested in history. I knew that I was interested in science but it was the history of it more than it was practicing it. And then I took a women’s history course and I loved it. I almost changed my major but instead I double majored. I realized it gave me the outlet for what I wanted to do. So I didn’t really figure it out until I was in college that I was interested in trying to understand how ideas and thoughts developed."

If you could witness any historical event, what would it be?

"I’d have to say the French Revolution. To have been alive during that period, it was tough. Not many people who were heavily involved with it survived. But I’d want to be at that first mass protest because it’s the first time in history that people are protesting and the government is responding to the people, instead of the will of the king. And I would have loved to have been in that crowd and understood that my demands were as valid as the king’s or anyone else’s."

If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?

"There’s this British woman named, Vera Brittain. She was a nurse during World War One and there she witnessed the death of many young men of her generation and then went on to be an intellectual and wrote about her experiences being a nurse and became a well-known pacifist. So much so that, she took the very unpopular position of saying that England should not get involved in World War Two. And I would love to have dinner with her and ask her about her pacifist beliefs."

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

"Probably that I was a zoology major."

What is your favorite class to teach?

"I love teaching all the classes I teach! My current favorite at the moment is The 1960’s in Europe and the United States. If you ask me at the end of the semester, it will probably be The History of Gender and Sexuality. But I love teaching the course on the 60’s because I feel like it’s such a misunderstood time in history and that most people think they know what happened. And it’s amazing to watch students learn about what actually happened and it kind of changes their perception, not only of that period, but their understanding of culture today."

What is your advice to undergraduates?

"To as much as possible, and as hard as this is in a period where a lot of unemployment, to use your time in college to really explore all different kinds of avenues. If I had stuck with what I originally thought I was going to do, which was to be a medical doctor and then to be a scientist, my life would be really different.  To be open to the possibility of change and to explore in a way that will be hard to find time to do after college. So to explore all the different intellectual disciplines in front of you."

What do you love most about Framingham State?

"The students. I love my department colleagues and I love my colleagues outside of the department so we have a great university community. But what I really love, what makes me happy to come here, is the students. And it’s because, by and large, most of them are really willingness to learn and to be open. They don’t have a preconceived notion of what they’re going to get when they come to class. And that means that we just have so much room to expand and grow and I really appreciate that."