by King Arthur
Professor Jarbel Rodriguez traces his fascination with the medieval
world back to childhood. "There's a certain romantic aspect to
the field," he says. "I had a castle when I was 5. My dad
told me Arthurian tales. When I got into the ‘Lord of the Rings'
and Monty Python movies," he says, smiling,"I was doomed."
An entry-level class in Western civilization inspired him to pursue
both his bachelor's and master's degrees in history at the University
of Miami, and later a Ph.D. at Princeton University. Today his areas
of expertise are 14th- and 15th-century Spain, pre-modern slavery and
medieval Muslim/ Christian relations -- knowledge that he enjoys sharing.
"Teaching is my favorite thing," says Rodriguez, who took
on his first teaching position when he joined the SFSU faculty four
years ago. "I love being in front of a class when the students
are really engaged, asking lots of questions. It's a rush."
His favorite class is a seminar on the Black Death, "probably the
single most important event in history," he says, pointing out
that the epidemic accelerated changes in sanitation, education, religion,
spirituality, law and economy -- and that the population of some European
regions did not recover until well after the 16th century.
History Chair Richard Hoffman says Rodriguez "really is an extraordinary,
phenomenal teacher. He's very energetic and alive, has a wonderful sense
of humor. He knows the past well and can select interesting ways to
share it with his students, many of whom are young and straight out
of high school."
Senior Kevin Mummey has taken four of Rodriguez's classes and believes
the professor is one of the reasons the History Department is ranked
fourth in the nation for sending master's degree students on to doctoral
programs. Mummey says that Rodriguez is more than knowledgeable. "He's
encouraging and always available."
And he's clearly not stuck in the Middle Ages. Mummey says, "I
couldn't believe it when I found out he was into heavy metal. Dr. Rodriguez