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Final Faculty Seminar’s focus is European Mennonites and nationalism

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The final Faculty Seminar of the school year at Bethel College will focus on European nationalism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Mark Jantzen, associate professor of history, will present “Mennonite German Soldiers: Intersections of Nation, Religion and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880,” which he said will enter “the nexus between nation, religion and family during the time period when nationalism became a dominant political ideology in Europe.” The lecture is Tuesday, April 21, at 4 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel and is free and open to the public

In describing his presentation, Jantzen said, “Why did some Mennonites become German soldiers while others emigrated to the steppes of Russia or the Great Plains of the United States? The history of the Mennonites, the largest Christian minority in Germany for most of the 19th century, illustrates well the tensions and contradictions of liberalism, nationalism and modernization.

“Their persistent religious opposition to military service continued even as Mennonites moved from the periphery toward the economic and social centers of German society,” he continued. “This odd simultaneous movement toward and away from the center highlights in a unique way the key assumptions about the proper relationships between citizenship, religion, family mores and belonging to the German nation that were held by political elites who enacted Mennonite policy, by ordinary Germans who were Mennonites’ neighbors, and Mennonites themselves.”

Jantzen has degrees from Bethel College, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the University of Notre Dame. He has taught at Bethel since 2001.

Faculty Seminar provides a forum for presenting the achievements of the Bethel College faculty to the larger campus community. Recent dissertations, books, papers and fine arts productions usually form the core of the presented material. Sessions last approximately 90 minutes and include critical and wide-ranging discussion following each presentation. Students and interested members of the community are welcome at all sessions.

The Bethel College Faculty Seminar series is supported in part by the Earl and Meta Leisy Eymann Endowment. For more information, contact Faculty Seminar director Nathan Bartel at (316) 284-5240 or e-mail

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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