Professor's passion for history and teaching leads to the publication of his first book, 'The BBC and National Identity in Britain, 1922-53'
Thomas Hajkowski, Ph.D., associate professor of history, is not the Highlander, nor is he immortal, but for years he has imagined himself as being a part of important events in world history. With an engaging high school teacher and his own enthusiasm fueling his imagination, key periods from antiquity to the Vietnam war sprung to life.
"I would be reading about the great events of the past and would imagine myself being a part of it or at least being there to see it all,'' says Dr. Hajkowski, a member of the Misericordia faculty since 2005.
It's almost second nature for this historian to bring the subject matter to life for his MU students. “I am always trying to get students to share their thoughts about historical texts or imagery or the way that history is presented in modern mass media," the Linden, N.J., native acknowledges. An interest in why and how people think of themselves as part of a nation took Dr. Hajkowski to Europe to conduct research on nationalism, one of his favorite topics. “It is only very recently — maybe the last 200 years — that Europeans and Americans developed ideas like nationalism or love of country."
What began as his doctoral dissertation in 2000 expanded into his first book project. He spent nine months in Britain conducting research and writing. In 2011, Dr. Hajkowski's landmark book, “The BBC and National Identity in Britain, 1922-53,'' became the first study to focus on how the network, through its radio programs, tried to represent what it meant to be British.
“What does it mean to be American or Italian? My book is interested in the questions of what it meant to be British, but also at the same time to be Scottish, Irish or Welsh," he explains.
His efforts received positive reviews in Reviews in History. “Thomas Hajkowski has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the interplay between programming and the broader theme of nation building. His long hours in the archives have produced a book which will surely feature on cultural history reading lists for a very long time."