History: Diane Korngiebel

by Howard W. Hewitt

September 22, 2005

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A business friendship with Professor Stephen Morillo led Diane Korngiebel to Wabash College this fall.

"We’re both in the same historical society," the Visiting Asst. Professor of History said. "He’s the editor of the society’s publication and I’m the assistant editor.

"He said, ‘Hey, you want to come here for a year?’ I was teaching down in Arkansas and thought let’s go to a liberal arts college and see what that’s all about."

The former journalist is filling in for Morillo who is on sabbatical. Korngiebel earned her bachelors at the University of Washington, masters from the University of Wales at Cardiff, Wales, and from the University of Durham in England. Her doctorate came from Worcester College, Oxford University, England.

"I focus mostly on the English colonization of Ireland and Wales in the medieval period," Korngiebel said. "I look at cultural discrimination and the role of women in those societies."

But Korngiebel originally started down a different path. She started her post-high school career at a journalism student in the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. She did an internship, mainly for income, at The Olympian in Olympia, Washington.

She’s arrived at Wabash with no pre-conceived notions of an all-male school. "It hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind. Obviously, I walk into the classroom and I see all men. But the first thing that happens to me when I walk into the classroom is I see students."

She has also come to love the high-spirited give and take in the Wabash atmosphere. "I see students and my personality tending to jive a little bit and that’s fine," she said with a laugh. "I’d have to say, coming from Arkansas and before that Oxford, that this sort of smart-arseness wouldn’t go over at either of those places. You couldn’t have that kind of classroom dynamic where here it seems to be accepted.

"I actually enjoy that and I know when I move on from this position I won’t be able to use that teaching style again."

Teaching has always been in Korngiebel’s blood. "When I was a kid I used to pretend to be a teacher and I would teach my friend," she recalled. I’d make little booklets up and write up little mathematical problems. I’d hand them out. I really enjoyed that. I think that always stuck with me. Even when I was a journalist, I really wanted to teach."

Korngiebel said being a young academic she doesn’t have much free time but describes herself as a voracious reader. "I read anything and everything, particularly mysteries. But I also like novels. But I spend most of my free time doing research."

She is finishing up a paper she will present to the Haskins Society in November. The research is on the women of the English colonies of Wales and Ireland.

 


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