The past several months have held several non-curricular activities for Taylor University’s Assistant Professor of History Benjamin Wetzel.
Last year, Wetzel’s book “Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit” was released. This summer, his book “American Crusades” was released. In August, Wetzel was asked to speak at the Carnegie Lecture Series at Marion Public Library, and in October Wetzel will be presented with the Theodore Roosevelt Association Book Prize for “Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit.”
Although it was published after “Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit,” “American Crusade” was the first book that Wetzel wrote for his doctoral dissertation at Notre Dame. “American Crusade” was not released until this summer because of the time it took for both peer review and publishing.
Wetzel worked on “Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit” for several years. Most of the research was done before Wetzel came to teach at Taylor five years ago. Wetzel was able to spend time finishing his book over the summers and during the occasional free J-term, since the publisher knew he was teaching a full schedule.
“Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit” is part of a series with the Oxford University Press called “Spiritual Lives.” This series features famous historical figures who were not known for their religion, but whose faith played an important role in their lives.
Every year the Theodore Roosevelt Association chooses a book to win the Theodore Roosevelt Association Book Award. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Association website, the award “recognizes the year's most significant published book focused primarily or substantially on Theodore Roosevelt.”
This year, they selected Wetzel’s book as the winner and will present his prize at their annual meeting in Buffalo, New York.
This is not the only extracurricular Theodore Roosevelt-related activity that Wetzel has been busy with this year. He also spoke at Marion Public Library as part of their Carnegie Lecture Series.
Head of the Marion Public Library Museum services Collen Cramer, said that the Carnegie Lecture Series is designed to get people inside the museum to learn from a scholarly figure presenting information to the general public.
Once a month a speaker is invited to give a lecture on a figure in their area of expertise. Cramer graduated from Taylor so he has many connections with Taylor.
Other than Wetzel, Taylor’s Dr. Kevin Johnson has spoken as part of the series and the next speaker is Dr. Tom Jones on Sept. 23.
“There's a Q&A at the end of each lecture where people can ask questions,” Cramer said. “It’s a good way for the public who aren't normally exposed to historical topics, we hope to diversify other topics that are linked to the humanities. Where they might not know about a certain thing, they can ask a professional about it.”
Even if Taylor students missed this lecture, they have another opportunity to learn about Theodore Roosevelt in Wetzel’s J-Term class called “The Roosevelts,” which is offered every other J-Term.
Wetzel was not expecting the award and these opportunities, but he is happy to be working in his area of expertise: the late 1800s to early 1900s in American history. He has some plans to start a new book, but nothing has been decided concretely about when he will do so.
“We’re proud to see one of our own faculty receive this distinguished award,” President Lindsay said. “We are grateful for Dr. Wetzel’s scholarship at Taylor and the difference it’s making in the world.”