Department of History

Varner Hall, Room 415
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3510
fax: (248) 370-3528

Jace Crouch

Special Lecturer

The department is deeply saddened by the passing of Jace Crouch, who died on March 26, 2013.  The following is an excerpt from his obituary, published in The Morning Sun on March 30, 2013:

Jace was born September 25, 1952 in Alma, the son of James and Alwilda (Shelley) Crouch. He married Toni Katt on April 28, 1973 at St. John Episcopal Church in Alma. He earned his undergraduate and Master Degrees from CMU and his Ph.D from MSU. Jace taught history at Oakland University. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a life member of the NRA. He was a devout Catholic. Jace and his wife enjoyed camping in the Munising area.  He is survived by his mother; brother, Brandon; uncle and aunt Richard and Helen Shelley; cousin, Dixie Gene Shelley; the entire, wonderful, LaFramboise family and friend of 40 years, Craig Bell. He was preceded in death by his father Jim and wife Toni. 

What follows is the last version of Prof. Crouch's OU faculty profile.  It not only reflects his approach to research and teaching but also provides, to a small extent, a sense of the personality that so many of his students and colleagues came to know and love.

Ph.D., Michigan State University

Research Focus:
Expanding on Richard Weaver's famous comment that "ideas have consequences," I am delving into the historical reality that theology has consequences, specifically the ways in which Isidore of Seville (d. 636) assimilated Patristic theologies into his various historical writings, his chronicles, and especially into his Etymologiae, which became the most important encyclopedia in western civilization from the Middle Ages until the publication of the Diderot and d'Alembert's "Encyclopedia" during the Enlightenment.

Current Research Topic:
A holistic examination of how Isidore of Seville's notions of religious supercessionism and of the new social and political order in the west in the fifth through seventh centuries unwittingly (and in Isidore's case, unintentionally) may have contributed to the development of anti-Semitic legislation in later Visigothic Spain, particularly once the monarchy got its hands on his writings. All previous scholarship on this topic has focused on one or two of Isidore's lesser known works, but my approach considers aspects of this question that appear in most of Isidore's writings. An important point in all of this is that scholars then and now need to be careful in how we say what we say, lest we provide aid or sustenance to those in authority who would misappropriate or misuse our work; scholars do not work in a vacuum, neither in Isidore's day, nor in our own.

Approach to Teaching:
Although I hold to the traditional and technologically minimalist "sage on a stage" approach, sagacity being one of the many things we hope that our students will develop (if perhaps only as a departure from our own poor examples), nevertheless I have re-tooled significantly both form and content. During the past few years, I had drifted unnecessarily into something like a "social science" presentation of history, with overmuch application of the historical-critical method, as opposed to considering its results. This semester I have returned quite aggressively to something more akin to the traditional Liberal Arts approach: the importance of careful historical understanding to the development of our intellectual and characterological natures. As such, I am "speaking for Clio," as my late mentor Richard E. Sullivan implored his students to undertake. That is, I speak towards the fostering of an informed citizen body that has been steeped in the Liberal Arts tradition, and at the same time speak to history majors/minors, to those in teacher education programs, and those who will proceed from Oakland University to graduate study or law school.

Publications and Presentations:

“The Judicial Punishment of Decalvatio in the Visigothic Realm: A Proposed Solution Based on Isidore of Seville and the Lex Visigothorum,” The Mediterranean Review 3:1 (June 2010): 59-77.

"Supersessionism, the Call of the Gentiles, and the Conversion of the Visigoths in Isidore of Seville," Midwest Medieval History Conference, Denison University, October 2008.

"Supersessionism and the Call of the Gentiles in Isidore of Seville," International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich., May 2008.

"Late Antiquity and Salvation History: Continuities, Discontinuities, and Intertextualities in the Historical Writings of Isidore of Seville," International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich., May 2007.

"Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and the Middle Ages: Medievalism in J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis," History Comes Alive Lecture Series, Oakland University, March 2006.

"Isidore of Seville," New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (Thomson-Gale, 2003).

"The Judicial Punishment of Decalvatio in Visigothic Spain," Medieval Association of the Midwest, Madison, Wisconsin, September 2001.

"Anti-Religion and the Promotion of Pseudo-Religion in Western Democratic and Anti-Democratic Societies," Meadow Brook History Conference for Secondary Teachers, Oakland University, 2000.

"What Happened to Samson? Decalvatio in Isidore of Seville and in the Forum Judicum," International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich., May 2000.

"It Wasn't Their Fault: Catholic Churchmen on the Conversion(s) of the Visigoths," International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich., May 1998.

Isidore of Seville on Time, Eternity, Events, and History: The Unfolding of Salvation History (Ph.D. Diss., Michigan State University, 1997).

"Isidore of Seville and the Evolution of Kingship in Visigothic Spain," Mediterranean Studies 4 (1994): 9-26.