Studying the American Mind From Three Different Perspectives
Spotlight on Jordan Reimschisel, ’16
Written by Finn Cleary
Senior Jordan Reimschisel has had four years to reflect on the relationship between his study of the liberal arts and preparation for life after Hillsdale.
“A place like Hillsdale is really hard to understand without being here,” he says. “It’s after four years of being here that I feel like I have a decent understanding of what this place is about.”
Discovering what Hillsdale is like was difficult for Jordan at first, because it wasn’t his top choice. But following the advice of his father, and after talking with students here about their plans for the future, Jordan decided to attend. It wasn’t long before he found the interdisciplinary major of American Studies, which combines three of Hillsdale’s strongest fields—American history, literature, and politics—into a major focused on the development of the American experience.
“How did the politics, the literature, everything interact to form the American mind? That’s what the American studies major is about. It’s writing and reading and, above all, critical thinking that encourages you to explore the relationship between those three fields.”
Jordan enjoys the unique opportunity to study a single topic, the American mind, from three different perspectives.
“I chose it because it gave me a better overall picture of the shaping of the American mind. I liked being able to get a big overview of that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s that it’s so hard to really specify and get deep into one subject.”
In his senior thesis, Jordan is discussing the buildup of the Civil War.
“It made America into what it is today. It’s our great tragedy. The literature before the war and after is massively changed for the better.”
Specifically, Jordan is studying a controversial figure in a controversial group that was involved in the tensions leading to the war. The group, called the “Fire-Eaters”, was composed of radical Southerners who aggressively pushed the idea that slavery was a great benefit for the nation.
“I’m looking at John Anthony Quitman, who was the governor of Mississippi and a radical Fire-Eater. But he was born in New York to German-American parents and lived in Ohio before moving to the South. He’s not a Southerner, but he sees the potential in Mississippi and moves down to build a slave empire.”
The unique characters in the story Jordan is writing about are what fueled him to seek a career in research and policy. That in turn led to his accepting a job with the Koch Institute in Washington, D.C., where he will move after graduation with his wife. Currently he is remotely in the Koch Associate Program through the Charles Koch Institute.
“I heard about it from an alumni who heard that I was interested in politics and history, and after I spent time at the Mercatus Center in D.C., I fell in love with the city and what I’m doing there now.”
Looking back on his time at Hillsdale, Jordan is grateful for the caliber of professors he’s had, as well as the chances for exploration and research his major has afforded him.
“We’re here to study the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. The humanities departments at Hillsdale teach you how to think in general and give you a foundational structure to help you to refine your own worldview.”
Finn Cleary, ’18, is from the cultural hub of America, Columbus, Ohio. He plans on majoring in History and working in the public policy field.