Following an undergraduate degree in English at BYU, Jenny Hale Pulsipher entered the American Studies master’s program at the Kennedy Center in 1985. “I wrote my thesis on the theme of pilgrimage in the works of Willa Cather. I chose American Studies, because I wanted to better understand the historical and cultural context of the literature I had been studying,” Pulsipher said. “The center gave me a good place to begin the transition that has since landed me in history.”
After completing her courses, family responsibilities called as she and her husband Michael moved to Palo Alto, Philadelphia, and Boston, where he completed his medical and residency training and a post-doctoral fellowship. Pulsipher found free-lance editing, defended her master’s thesis in 1989, began their family, and in 1993 she entered a doctoral program in American History at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “I accepted a position in the history department at BYU in 1998 and graduated from Brandeis in 1999. My husband then followed me to Provo,” she stated. “My field of interest is early American history, particularly Indian/English relations. My most recent article appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly in 2001 (http:// www.wm.edu/oieahc/WMQ/ Apr01/), and I have a book, This New Albion World: The Contest of Authority in New England, that will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2003.”
Of her year at the Kennedy Center, Pulsipher recalls that it was “excellent preparation for my PhD program. I still consider the core graduate seminar I took from Professor Ladd Hollist to be the most rigorous course, and one of the most beneficial, of my graduate career. It prepared me very well for the substantial reading load and, particularly, the analytical expectations of my doctoral courses at Brandeis.”
She credits her classmates and faculty mentors with a critical role in her academic progress. “I learned a lot from the small, close group of students at the center that year, many of whom had more experience in the kinds of reading and thinking covered in our core courses than I did at the time. Dr. Hollist, who directed the program that year, was a marvelous teacher and mentor. He expected the very best from us, and his encouragement of me to continue my training (at a time when I did not think it would fit into my life) played an important role in my return to graduate school four years after completing my work at BYU,” Pulsipher noted. “I was also very fortunate in two brilliant and humane thesis advisors—Richard Cracroft and John Murphy (in succession, as I shifted my thesis topic from Mark Twain to Willa Cather).
“My year in the Kennedy Center was a happy one, intense and invigorating. I worked hard and learned a great deal. Because of that positive experience, I have encouraged others to apply to the program, including my younger brother, Michael Hale, who graduated with a master’s in Asian Studies in 1992,” she concluded.
Pulsipher is an assistant professor of history at BYU. Her husband, Dr. Michael Pulsipher, is the acting clinical director of pediatric blood and marrow transplantation at Primary Children’s Medical Center. They are the parents of four children.