Surf's up in unique history course
Jerome Hall, Ph.D., is not your ordinary faculty member. Hall, associate professor of Anthropology and a recent recipient of the J. Richard Steffy Lectureship from the Archeological Institute of America, is highly regarded as a nautical archaeologist. Along with his scholarly success, Hall is known on campus for his unique course on surf culture and its history.
Hall’s History of Surf Culture introduces students to the study of anthropology through a less traditional cultural lens. Many students enroll in the class with assumptions of a "hang loose" vibe, so Hall finds it particularly rewarding when students comment with surprise at the rigor of the course. Through the study of the surfer, students learn how to think like anthropologists.
Hall clearly articulates the love and respect he has for surf culture, of which he is a part. At the beach he observes surfers, commenting on intriguing elements of that culture, such as surfer retirement. Hall wonders what makes someone stop doing a daily activity that seems to bring them so much peace and enjoyment. Is it age, life changes, greater responsibilities or simply increased fear?
Inspecting the lines of his surfboard, Hall defines the relationship between his love of surfing, its unique culture and the nautical archeology that he studies. View a surfboard as a nautical vessel, he says, before describing his work in Israel over the summer studying the hull of a first century boat discovered in the Sea of Galilee. This research follows the work of his mentor J. Richard Steffy, a recipient of a “MacArthur Genius” award, whom Hall credits as greatly influencing his academic growth and success in nautical archeology.