20 Questions: A sketch of Centre history professor Steve Beaudoin

RELEASED: May 11, 2006

Steve Beaudoin: "On a boat in Provincetown thinking about all the TV shows that I'm missing" (left); "Christmas at 18 months, one of the few photos of me without a beard and mustache."

1. Position/title: Associate Professor of History.
2. Hometown: Biddeford, Maine.
3. Career highlight: Though low key, my proudest moment was probably when I received an e-mail from the mother of one of the students in my Freshman Seminar.  She thanked me for building her daughter's self-confidence and allowing her (the daughter) to see for herself the fine quality work she was capable of producing.
4. Signature class: Although I haven't been able to teach it lately (and even then I'm not sure if I would call it my "signature class"), it's probably "The French Revolution and Napoleon," in which the students put Napoleon on trial by acting out roles based on their readings of biographies and autobiographies. The first time I taught this we actually used the county courthouse!
5. Recent publication/exhibition/performance: My most recent publication is a book of readings entitled The Industrial Revolution, but I have a new book coming out in November entitled Poverty in World History.
6. Family details: It's just me and my partner, John (and yet the house still seems crowded with his—I mean, our—stuff!).
7. Hobbies: Okay, okay, I'll admit it—I watch far too much television! Other than that, do home improvements count as a hobby?
8. Pets: That's a real battle in our household right now. Hopefully, someday, we'll have a cat.
9. Prized possession: My grandfather's pocket watch. My parents gave it to me when I earned my Ph.D.
10. Last book read: Well, I just finished re-reading Michael Miller's The Bon Marche: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869-1920, but that was for a class.  The last non-academic book I read was Why Do Men Have Nipples: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor after Your Third Martini?
11. Memorable trip/vacation: While they certainly weren't vacations, the most memorable trips I've taken so far would have to be my stints with Centre's programs in Strasbourg and London. Besides living in two great cities, I had the chance to interact with students in very different ways than I do here in Danville. And, honestly, how else would I have enjoyed the experience of running through the streets of Strasbourg, in the rain, with a plunger in my hands! (Four students and one non-functioning "toilette" on a Friday evening do not make for a happy situation!)
12. Favorite movie: That's tough! As a recovering TV-addict, there are so many to choose from. Among my favorites, I would have to count Casablanca, The Producers (the original version with Zero Mostel), The African Queen, and To Live.
13. Favorite album: Like movies, there's just too much to choose from. Here's a weird sampling of CDs I never tire of listening to (or does "eclectic mix" sound better?): Carrie Newcomer's The Bird or the Wing, Pat Benatar's Get Nervous, Holly Cole's Don't Smoke in Bed, and Bronski Beat's Age of Consent.
14. Favorite food: Being from Maine, I love virtually all seafood, especially scallops.
15. Favorite smell: Fresh-baked bread and mothballs (not at the same time, however.  Even the thought of that makes me a little queasy!).
16. Person you most admire: My parents, who had to make many sacrifices while raising five children in a decaying mill town.
17. Living figure you'd most like to meet: Nelson Mandela.
18. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: Either Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. I would love to find out first-hand just what the founding fathers had in mind, their attitudes about how their project has unfolded, and where they think it should go in the future.
19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre: I would love to say something oddly interesting like rodeo clown or even ticket-taker at a go-go lounge, but I would probably be teaching history somewhere else—wishing I could get a job at Centre, of course!
20. Describe yourself in three words: My fourth-grade teacher once described me as "the bashful wonder." I'm not sure it still fits, but I like that.


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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://archive.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/

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