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Erika Vause


Erika Vause, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History

Many people think history is a boring exercise in memorizing names and dates in chronological order. For me, on the other hand, teaching history is like guiding a mission to another planet - where the familiar becomes strange and the strange becomes increasingly familiar. My goal is to give students the tools they need to decipher what they find in primary sources and to connect these to the world they live in today. Every time I teach, it is a joint venture - one in which I train students how to think more about those who aren’t like themselves at the same time that I myself learn new things about them. Although I believe that history is a valuable preparation for many career paths, I feel the greater value of a liberal arts education lies in instilling a life-long sense of curiosity and critical thinking that prevents life from ever becoming boring.”

Dr. Erika Vause has been passionate about history since high school, when she taught her AP European History class about the French Revolution using a quarter-scale model guillotine. Her interests have since broadened to include many other areas of European and world history, but she remains a Francophile at heart. She is currently working on a project, based on her dissertation, which focuses on the debtors' prison, bankruptcy, and usury in early nineteenth-century France. She believes that good scholarship lies in creating a balance between research and instruction, where the former guides and enlightens the latter. After teaching for several years at the University of Chicago and Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, she is excited by the new opportunities (and warmer weather!) at Florida Southern College.


Ph.D., M.A., Modern European History, University of Chicago
B.A., History and English, University of California Berkeley

Honors and Awards

  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Foundation 2010-2011
  • Bourse Chateaubriand, French Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2008-2009
  • Georges Lurcy Fellowship for Research in France 2007-2008
  • University of Chicago France Center Summer Fellowship 2006
  • University of Chicago Division of Social Sciences Graduate Student Achievement Fellowship 2005-2009
  • Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Chapter 2004
  • Chancellor’s Scholar University of California Berkeley 2000-2004

Publications and Exhibitions

“Disciplining the Market: Debt Imprisonment and the Making of Commercial Actors in Revolutionary France,” Law and History Review, August 2014
“ ’The Business of Reputations’: Shame, Secrecy, and Social Standing in Nineteenth-century French Debtors’ and Creditors’ Newspapers,” Journal of Social History, Fall 2014
" 'He Who Rushes to Riches Will Not Be Innocent': Commercial Honor and Commercial Failure in Post-Revolutionary France" French Historical Studies 35.2 (Summer 2012): 321-349.