Darlene Hall, Ph.D.
Darlene Hall, History
In 1976, a 19-year-old Darlene Hall accompanied her family on a road trip to Norfolk, Va., to spend time with her uncle, a chief petty officer aboard the aircraft carrier "Independence." During this trip, Darlene took part in the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in the city, toured the big naval base there, and, most significantly, bought a historical novel titled "To Glory We Steer" after she'd run out of paperback science fiction books to read.
The novel, written by Alexander Kant, told the story of a British naval captain during the American Revolution and offered Darlene her first glimpse into that side of the conflict, prompting her to read the rest of that series and sparking her passion for maritime and naval history. "I began to find out that much of what we're taught from K-12 about American history is mythology," she said. "Once your eyes are opened, they cannot be closed again."
Originally from Meadville, Pa., Darlene holds a B.A. in history from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, as well as a M.A. in British history and a Ph.D. in European history from Pennsylvania State University. She served as an adjunct faculty member at Penn State for three years following her own education before joining the faculty at LEC, where she is now in her 15th year.
In the years since her interest in history began, Darlene’s passion for the subject hasn’t waned. “I love history, I love studying it, and teaching it is one way to continue to study it,” she said. “For me, historical research has been a search for the truth, but also the best way to understand the modern world.”
Though her primary historical interest has centered on naval and maritime history, Darlene loves her discipline because it covers everything from science, technology, philosophy and economics to politics, environmental issues, religious developments and more. “Everything has a history to it, and when it comes to human beings and human behavior, there is very little that hasn’t already happened before, at least once,” she said. “If more people genuinely knew history, I think we’d be in a better place now. Think of the current situation in the Middle East, for instance. If you don’t know anything about the history of that region, the situation going on won’t make much sense to you.”
At LEC, Darlene teaches 17 different history classes as well as courses in critical thinking, world religions, geography, philosophy and more. Regardless of the subject, though, Darlene loves the small class sizes because they allow her to get to know her students and to follow them through their time here.
The small size of the College as a whole also allows for more inter-faculty collaboration, which is another of Darlene’s favorite things. “The faculty members from all disciplines get to know one another and interact quite a bit, which develops a synergy that encourages us to think in a more interdisciplinary way,” she said. “This is different from a large institution where we would only know the fellow faculty in our departments.”
For students who question how applicable a history degree is to the real world, Darlene stresses that every career path out there requires some knowledge of the discipline. “There are many, many directions a graduate can go, be it to law school or graduate work in history itself, or to embassy work, government careers, editing publications, administrative positions in non- or for-profit institutions and businesses, and so on,” she said. “Any career that requires the ability to read and analyze documents or conduct research will be well served by a history major.”
Darlene’s favorite stories from her time at LEC all stem back to her students. One story that stands out for her involves a pair of seniors a few years back who had taken many of her classes and decided to write their version of world history as a ‘final’ paper for their professor. “Let’s just say it was very funny, but not for prime time!” she said.
While she hates to see her students graduate in the sense that she’ll no longer get to learn with them, graduation is also Darlene’s favorite part of the job. “It’s the reward for the work we do here,” she said.